Why community-ready pre-service teachers? Exploring the rationale and pedagogies of orienting to community early in a teacher education program

Year: 2013

Author: Brennan, Marie, Carter, Briony, McCallum, Faye, Simons, Michele

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Ted Sizer reminded us that nobody can teach well those whom they do not know well.  Yet every year - and sometimes every semester - teachers meet new classes of students whom they do not yet know well.  Building strong pedagogical relationships based on knowledgeable connections is thus a continuous challenge for teachers, and most especially for pre-service teachers (PSTs) going out on their first placement.  This challenge was taken up by a graduate entry teacher education program aiming to attract metropolitan PSTs to consider work in the country through a first placement of two weeks in a regional setting, with close partnering by community agencies.
 The paper commences with a brief overview of the regional initiative, its pedagogical and partnership dimensions, and its findings. The findings of the initiative over 5 years include PSTs finishing their first, 2-week placement with a strong appreciation of regional community, a willingness to consider regional teaching, and around 14% of the cohorts taking up regional employment at the end of their degrees. Partnership work required teacher educators to spend time in rural communities, working with diverse agencies and groups as well as schools and employer authorities. 
The paper then moves to unpack the implications of Green and Reid's  concept of ‘socially situated' teacher education, which we found central to making links among the various dimensions of the work of all partners in understanding the emerging form of teacher education under development.  We elaborate the dimensions of the multi-dimensional rationale that we built through reflexive engagement with regional community partners, pre-service teachers, employers and ourselves as teacher educators. In arguing for attention to place and communities in place, Reid and Green and their colleagues over several projects have helped teacher educators to understand that education of/about place is also education for that place; our suggestion is to add education by the place and its community/ies. If teacher education is always and already socially situated, what does this imply for the pedagogies and curriculum in on-campus work, the agenda/curriculum of the partnership with communities and the learning opportunities for PSTs in community as well as school? Pedagogies that pay attention to demographic, cultural, economic, and geographic dimensions of place, as argued by Green and reid, can be built into preparatory on-campus work, and are needed also in community and regional school settings.  Examples of these will be provided and linked to analysis of their adequacy in addressing curriculum and partnership aspects of socially situated teacher education.