This qualitative self-study (Loughran, 2006) by two teacher-educators explores the challenges and benefits of developing site-based teaching activities within school- university partnerships as part of a new course and campus development at a major Australian university.
A growing discourse around teacher quality, teacher education and the place of school-based programs has increased the attention given to the role of partnerships between universities and schools (Douglas & Ellis, 2011; Eckersley et al., 2011; Hastings, 2009; Menter et al., 2011). While the 'field experience' is recognised as a critical component of teacher education courses, its numerous configurations and framing are coming under increasing scrutiny. The traditional co-operative relationships which see pre-service teachers working within a theory-practice dichotomy (Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008) are seen as limited; dynamic and multi-directional university-school partnerships turns attention to the emergence of mutually beneficial 'third spaces' (Bartholomew & Sandholtz, 2009; Struthers & Beckett, 2010; Zeichner, 2010). This shift in thinking requires teacher-educators, classroom teachers and pre-service teachers to reconstruct their roles within these increasingly complex, emerging relationships (Martin, Snow & Torrez, 2011).
Using the methodologies of narrative inquiry and autoethnography, this paper suggests why showing up for the uncomfortable first blind date can pay untold dividends to schools, preservice teachers, and an education system in need of long-term relationship counseling.