Making a difference to professional experience: Giving and getting back

Year: 2012

Author: Rawling, Sandy

Type of paper: Refereed paper


The purpose of this paper is to report on the professional experience of school leaver pre-service primary teachers. This paper will highlight the experience of one pre-service teacher in particular, Anna.  Recommendations highlighted could contribute to university preparation of pre-service primary school teachers particularly professional experience programs. Most certainly, research suggests there is little doubt the world has dramatically changed over the last twenty-five years influencing policy making in education.  In particular, four key trends have influenced education in a myriad of ways including economic rationalism, globalisation, changes in gender opportunities and technology. Additionally, approaches to teacher preparation continues to be hotly debated and contested internationally and nationally in search for the elusive solution to successfully prepare students for an unknown future. Despite a climate of change and disagreement Higher Education courses in particular teaching, has recently enjoyed a period of revitalisation attracting many school leavers. In this research narrative inquiry a personal knowledge based approach to research was used as a method for understanding the experiences of pre-service teachers, and data was collected using interviews and surveys.  This paper will discuss Anna and her supervising teacher's development of a reciprocal relationship reflecting Nodding's notion of ethics of care. It has been noted that Anna and her supervising teacher both modelled their pedagogy on New South Wales Quality Teaching Framework (NSWQTF). Furthermore, Anna's supervising teacher accepted her desire to explore approaches to learning and teaching that integrated Key Learning Areas (KLAs) utilising technology to support innovations in practice. Findings from this study suggest that pre-service teachers' (PSTs) approaches to social and professional life opportunities are a consequence of growing up and being schooled during a time of rapid change and this is influencing their approach to learning to teach. The paper argues that the hierarchical Expert Model, could be replaced during professional experience by a community of practice model and this might better support the professional development of the supervising teacher and PSTs. It has been concluded by the researcher that current pre-service primary professional experience programs can be improved through:  Establishing mentoring communities between supervisors, more experienced pre-service primary teachers and less experienced pre-service primary teachers; universities could invest more money into professional experience programs to improve institutional relations and promote communities of practice; and fostering initiatives supporting PSTs to experiment with alternative approaches to learning.