Clare and I (Clive) are glad to announce the release of our new book Growing as a Teacher, published by Sense. https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/professional-learning-1/growing-as-a-teacher/
It’s based on the first 8 years of our longitudinal study of 42 teachers, teaching mainly in Ontario but also New York and New Jersey.
Our central finding was that teachers learn a great deal informally, especially through classroom experience. This is in line with Donald Schon’s (1983) notion of “reflection in practice”: teachers learn through “experimental research, then and there, in the classroom” (p. 66). Similarly, Chris Day (1999) speaks of “the largely private, unaided learning from experience through which most teachers learn to survive, become competent, and develop” (p. 2).
Over their first 8 years, our teachers learned about: program planning, assessment, individualization, teaching for relevance, classroom organization, community building, work-life balance, and many other topics. In varying degrees, they developed a comprehensive, integrated vision of effective teaching, going well beyond their initial understanding.
In the book we discuss key implications of these findings:
- Teachers should see themselves as major “experts” on teaching, with abundant opportunities to inquire into teaching over the years. They should be willing to make decisions in the classroom and take a firm stance in adapting system initiatives.
- ITE instructors should promote this strong conception of teacher learning and expertise, and see themselves largely as “laying a foundation…preparing novices to learn in and from their practice” (Feiman-Nemser, 2001, p. 1016).
- PD facilitators should dialogue with teachers and build on their emerging vision and approach, rather than imposing system mandates in top-down fashion.
- Principals should support teachers in their learning, providing frequent opportunities for them to watch each other teach and share their developing insights.
Teachers can benefit greatly from external input, but not if it’s imposed “top-down” without reference to their views and experiences.
We have greatly enjoyed listening to the teachers in our study and will continue to do so into the future. We hope their voices and experiences will be helpful to teachers, teacher candidates, ITE instructors, and all those responsible for school policies and ongoing teacher learning.
I (Clare) am pleased to share some good news. We submitted a proposal to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to fund the project Rethinking Literacy Teacher Education for the Digital Era: Teacher Educators, Literacy Educators, and Digital Technology Experts Working Together. One of the main activities of the project will be bringing together 16 experts from three fields and 4 countries (Canada, US, UK, and Australia) to address the following questions.
- How is our understanding of literacy evolving in light of the new ways we communicate?
- How can literacy/English teacher educators (LTEs) prepare student teachers to develop and implement literacy programs that capitalize on digital technology (DT)?
- What teacher education curriculum changes are required to better prepare future teachers to integrate technology in their own teaching?
- What professional learning support do LTEs need to develop courses that will integrate and make greater use of DT?
As a team we are going to work together to:
- develop a statement on literacy teacher education that offers direction on how to integrate digital technology into teacher education literacy courses;
- extend our website http://www.literacyteaching.net to include video interviews of all the participants discussing their views and current research and their course outlines and supplementary course materials;
- produce an edited book Crossing Boundaries: Literacy/English Teacher Educators Incorporating Digital Technology in Their Courses
Click here to read the summary of the proposal. Final Summary of Proposal
As academics we tend to work in our “silo” which although allows us to specialize it has limitations. The symposium will provide an opportunity to work in an inter-disciplinary manner which may help us move forward the field of literacy teacher education. My co-applicants for the proposal are Lin Goodwin (Teachers College), Simone White (Monash University), Bethan Marshall (King’s College UK), Jean Murray (University of East London), and Clive Beck (University of Toronto). I will continue to provide updates on our work.
Those of us in higher education know there is steadily increasing pressure to secure research grants. Ironically, at the same time access to funding is decreasing. In my own context, Canada, receiving a grant from our central funding agency, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), is getting more difficult. It is not just the increased competition but also, the pool of money seems to be shrinking. I (Clare) read with interest and some sadness about the challenges my colleagues in Australia are facing. The University World News reported:
· In his speech, Hockey [Australian Federal Treasurer] shocked the nation’s scientists by announcing that the key independent research granting body, the Australian Research Council or ARC, would lose A$61 million from its “discovery programme” and A$42 million from its “linkage programme”.
· Dr Ross Smith, president of Science and Technology Australia, which represents 68,000 scientists, said cutting A$103 million from the ARC’s budget would further limit its capacity to fund fundamental and applied research – at a time when the success rates for applications for world-class grants are already below 25%.
· “Australian scientists are afraid this will lead to fewer jobs and training opportunities for our best and brightest. We are also concerned about funding for important humanities and social science research, given the cuts,” Smith said.
My colleagues in the UK are facing untold difficulties securing research grants. It is ironic that federal governments fail to recognize that conducting quality research requires funding and that it is absolutely necessary. Many researchers are in a Catch 22 – show you are an active researcher but do not expect money to conduct research. The short-term effect of reduced research funding is being felt throughout universities world-wide. The long-term effect is yet to be tabulated but I suspect it will be significant. We need research to investigate issues/phenomena/topics because the findings deepen our knowledge on a vast range of topics (which in turn can guide policy decisions). Conducting research is hard work. (Not to mention the time involved in writing a grant proposal — usually 2-3 months.) Let’s not make it so difficult that our research base erodes. Clare