The Victorian Teacher Portfolio: Language of possibility or language of control?

Year: 2004

Author: White, Julie, Hay, Trevor

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In order to contextualise discussion of the use of portfolios for beginning teachers, we begin this paper by revisiting some important notions derived from narrative enquiry and research about teacher career entry. We draw on the work of Michael Connelly and Jean Clandinin (1995; 1996; 1998; 2000; 1988; 1998; 1999) from the United States, who use tropes such as 'professional knowledge landscape' and 'storied lives'. We also refer to Les Tickle (1994; 1999; 2000) who has written extensively about induction of beginning teachers into the profession. Deborah Britzman (2003) contributes to our commentary on teacher identity and performance. Some current uses of the teacher portfolio are then discussed in relation to the regulation and assessment of entry to the profession in Victoria, Australia. In this context we characterise the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT, 2004a) portfolio for beginning teachers as an example of `performativity' (Lyotard, 1993, cited in Connor, 1997, p. 320) and, in our own terms, 'narrative-poor' enquiry which has appropriated the term `portfolio' to the purposes of regulatory authority. In conclusion we suggest that this form of portfolio is blocking the potential for transformation of beginning teacher identity, in which early career professionals explore links between contemporary qualitative research, 'writing' in Richardson's (2000) sense, and critical pedagogy.