Informal Teacher Learning. Teachers as Experts.

This past week we’ve been writing a paper on ongoing teacher learning, based on our 9-year longitudinal study of 42 teachers. What has struck me is the amount teachers learn after their initial preparation, mainly through experience in their own classroom and other informal means (e.g., chatting with colleagues, professional reading, searching the internet). As Marisa said at the end of her sixth year:

 When I started teaching, I soon realized there was so much I didn’t know. The first couple of years I struggled, and had to work really hard on my programming. But over time I’ve become more confident…I try new things, work with other teachers, and use what I learn to improve my program.

External input by formal means is potentially very important, but at present not much happens. And if and when we finally get around to it, it has to be done in dialogue with teachers, building on the approach they have already developed. Teachers are truly key experts, perhaps the main experts, on teaching. Clive

 

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2 thoughts on “Informal Teacher Learning. Teachers as Experts.

  1. Notwithstanding the unique, local setting. School culture differs re school community needs, parents, teachers, students. Emic perspective caters for this. There are many similarities as we share the field of education, but also many differences at the local school level re field, capital, habitus.

  2. What an interesting comment Clive! It raises the theory and practice discussion. And yes, I agree with the shared comment. There needs to be an honouring of the informal learning that is specific to the school context a teacher experiences. As a teacher educator I am very careful to keep the discussions/theories broad and open to possibilities for understanding because each context is case specific to pedagogy and content. For example: lesson planning – how does one share the process of lesson planning with student teachers without embedding the elements of lesson planning into a particular context (i.e., what do pupils already know? what pedagogies and perspectives are used in the classroom? how is the classroom set up? what texts are student favourites?) There is a “contextual knowing” that must exist in order for teachers to make good sense of the theory we share in our courses.

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