Anticipating future literacy teacher practice

Year: 2013

Author: McLean, Karen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The implementation of standards based reforms in the Australian context has influenced the literacy practice of teachers. Concern has been raised that the narrow emphasis on literacy assessment policies identifiable in national testing regimes has undermined the potential for rich and vibrant curriculum through placing emphasis on functional literacy skills. Preparing tomorrow’s teachers’ calls for understanding of the changing literacy landscape heavily influenced by technological advancement, and the implications of this changing landscape for effective literacy pedagogy.  This paper will argue that effective pedagogies for literacy teaching and learning must extend beyond a narrow focus on skills toward opening the minds of learners to literacy possibilities in a multiliterate society. Drawing on the evidence base of the author’s PhD study using reflective practice as a vehicle for informing effective process orientated literacy pedagogy for teachers, this paper applies the reflective practice model to a literacy teacher education context.  In making connections between these two contexts for the development of effective literacy pedagogy the paper will contend that in anticipating future literacy teacher practice there is a need to consider the literacy values that remain constant in times of change and ensure that these values are embedded in approaches to literacy teaching.

In the current educational context the influence of standards based reforms can be seen in teacher education where debates around literacy standards of graduates from teacher education programs are called into question. Similar to the debates surrounding literacy standards that are occurring in early childhood, primary and secondary sectors there is a danger that a skills based agenda in literacy teacher education will undermine the fundamental purpose of university education to open minds through critical and creative thinking. This in turn, raises concerns about future literacy teacher practice.

Using reflective practice as a vehicle for learning this paper explores creativity in literacy education through engaging tomorrow’s literacy teachers in process-orientated approaches to teaching and learning. It describes a community partnership learning model where the platform for teaching and reflective practice is provided in authentic contexts. In these contexts learning is on-going, interactive and teacher education students are provided opportunities for contemplation and reflection through exploring literacy values, creativity and critical thinking in their literacy practice. Policy and practice implications discussed in this paper emphasise the importance of reflective practice in teacher education for developing effective pedagogy and subsequent implications for policy supportive of literacy pedagogy for tomorrow’s teachers’.