Sharing knowledge in the professional experience: the moral work of reflective teaching practice

Year: 2012

Author: Harris ,Jessica, Keogh, Jayne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The professional experience component of initial teacher education is considered fundamental to providing students with the skills to manage and apply their knowledge in classroom settings. Within the research into teaching practice, repeated reference has been made in relation to the importance of effective mentoring and supervision programs in supporting the needs of students and beginning teachers. There is a dearth of knowledge, however, on what actually occurs within these supervisory relationships. The purpose of this paper is to examine the actual practices that take place in interactions between supervising teachers and student teachers, during the professional experience component of their Teacher Education Program.

This paper uses Conversation Analysis and Membership Categorisation Analysis to examine both the sequences of the participants' (or speakers') interactions, and the moral, categorical work that is taking place therein. Specific attention is paid to interactions in which concerns are raised about the student teachers' professional practices, either through their reflective practice or through feedback provided by their supervising teacher. We explore the in situ moral work that is accomplished to construct the student teachers as 'doing being a teacher'.

Our examination explores interactional practices used by student teachers and supervisors when they are exchanging information about the students' professional  experience. In particular, we examine the ways in which concerns about students' classroom practices are constructed in their talk. We demonstrate the value of using approaches arising from the ethnomethodological tradition to examine the interactions between student teachers and supervisors. These approaches uncover the moment-to-moment collaborative work that is being done to construct the student's developing identity as a teacher.

The value of the relationship between student teachers and their supervisors is frequently referred to within initial teacher education programs and literature. There is little known, however, about what actually occurs at a micro-level within these relationships. In this paper, we demonstrate how Conversation Analysis and Membership Categorisation Analysis approaches can be used to unearth the ways in which student teachers and their supervisors make sense of their relationship in interaction.