Theorising partnership work in teacher education through critical incident analysis

Year: 2013

Author: Simons, Michele

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Partnership has been hailed as a key means for renewing teacher education yet is largely discussed in terms of school-university program relationships. The purpose of this paper is to surface conceptual resources for understanding partnership more broadly and provide some methodological reflections about fruitful directions for further research in this area.  Drawing on literature on social partnerships and partnership building, particularly from the United Kingdom, I argue that careful consideration of partnering with community alters the definition of teaching, schools and teacher education and the spaces in which pre-service teachers work.  The methodological advice following from these traditions allows a significant questioning of how the boundaries of teacher education have been constructed and how partnering work helps to redefine what might count as ‘teacher education' and how communities can become teacher educators as communities invest in regional children's future teachers. 
Three critical incidents (Brookfield 1998) will be used as springboards to develop this analysis.  First, a regional Indigenous Health Service briefing of pre-service teachers raises questions of who ‘counts' as community, and the intersections of health and education work.  Second, the perspectives of a key officer of a regional economic development board allow a more nuanced understanding of the importance of teachers to a rural community, explaining ‘investment' in regionality and not merely ‘my region' . Incompatible demands on a teacher educator to provide regional services while program redesign is underway  also provides a means to explore the demands of partnership from the university faculty perspective, which go some way to elucidating the intersections of different worlds of work.  All three incidents illuminate the work of partnership and how building a capacity for shared work, across communities as needed for partnership, can create a new space for new shared learning.