“A human interaction and a shared experience”: The benefits of ‘informal’ connections for school-university partnerships.

Year: 2019

Author: Manton, Claire, Ludecke, Michelle

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Partnerships between schools and universities in Australia range from formalised agreements supported by funding arrangements to informal arrangements that arise from pre-existing relationships between teacher educators and teachers. The TEMAG report called for consistent, systematic partnerships to provide mutually beneficial outcomes to schools and universities alike whilst regarding informal partnerships with some criticism, based as they are on individual connections rather than wide-scale approaches. However, this paper argues that forging new relationships with schools, and nurturing prior relationships, are a hallmark of teacher educators’ work regardless of whether such relationships ever evolve into formalised agreements.

This paper describes a long-standing relationship between a teacher educator and a teacher. Beginning as a professional relationship between a university lecturer and pre-service teacher, the relationship has changed and evolved over a number of years to include shifting dyads of lecturer/student, researcher/participant and mentor/mentee. At the heart of this relationship is a shared experience build on reciprocity and an enlivened engagement in the teaching profession. Consequently, the relationship has sparked further school connections for the teacher educator. The first aim of this paper is to highlight the benefits gained from this informal partnership and question whether policy driven transactional partnerships foreclose opportunities for the development of significant relationships between teacher educators and teachers, rather than recognising the potential for such collaborations to be supportive, enduring and mutually beneficial. A secondary aim of this paper is to foreground the relational capabilities of teacher educators that enable these individuals to sustain relationships across schools and universities, in a climate where many aspects of the multifaceted nature of their work are largely invisible to schools, faculty deans and policy makers.