Praxis and partnerships: Developing a shared discourse

Year: 2012

Author: Reid, Catherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper will synthesise literature examining the ways in which successful University-school partnerships are developed and consolidated, and will evaluate the means by which a large scale teacher-training program has defined and refined its partnerships over four years. It will be argued that the development and ownership of a shared discourse are crucial to genuine partnership, and the ways in which the terms 'clinical teaching', 'intervention' and 'evidence-based practice' and 'praxis' have been appropriated by participants in the Master of Teaching program will be discussed. The roles and identities of these participants, including Teacher Candidates, Teaching Fellows, Clinical Specialists and Mentor Teachers will be presented, and attention will be given to the ways in which the conceptualisations of these roles have evolved.

Examples of the ways in which mentoring and assessment of pre-service teachers are shared by university and school personnel will be evaluated, and the extent to and means by which the principles and language of the program have been disseminated through these partnerships will be examined. A crucial component of this shared discourse is the way in which mentor feedback is constructed (City, Elmore et al, 2009; Wang, Odell and Schwille 2008; Tang, 2002), with both University and school-based mentors requiring understanding of how theoretical and practical aspects of teaching manifest themselves in specific school contexts (Ottesen 2007). Data and documentation that traces the development of a common feedback framework will be presented.

This paper will also highlight that the establishment of a common vision for capacity-building and transformation of the teaching profession requires ongoing professional development and shared research and evaluation (Hamel & Ryken 2010; Waterhouse, J. et al, 2009; Evertson & Smithy, 2001). Specific initiatives, linked to the Master of Teaching, that have provided these opportunities will be discussed; these include the development of a Clinical Teaching program, mentoring workshops, and school-based professional development run by university staff and aligned with regional school network priorities. Finally, this paper will discuss inter-faculty and school partnerships, illustrated through the example of an initiative linking Graduate Schools of Education and Law and Master of Teaching partnership schools.