Tag Archives: Sense Publishers

Guest Blog: Susan Elliott-Johns

I (Clare) am very pleased to share information about Susan Elliott-Johns’ recently published book.  I have read the entire book and found it fascinating. There is so little written from the perspective of Deans of Education this text will fill a void in the literature. Congratulations Susan. (Susan is an Associate Professor at Nipissing University Canada.)

In a recently published book, Leadership for Change in Teacher Education: Voices of DIVS-Elliott_PB_firstproof.inddCanadian Deans of Education I (Susan) have compiled a rich sampling of diverse perspectives on this topic in a unique collection of reflections contributed by deans of education across Canada. The focus of my inquiry, “What would we hear from deans of education invited to share their perspectives on leadership for change in contemporary teacher education?” invited deans of education to reflect on the research, policies and practices currently informing their leadership. In the current era of teacher education reform, I thought it would be informative and illuminating to explore insights deans of education might share to assist others in understanding their role as leaders of teacher education and change today. In other words, what does it mean to be a dean of education in the 21st century?

The results, fourteen engaging and provocative essays, offer emic perspectives and increased understandings of the complex nature of deans’ work. Their reflections explore significant concerns in relation to lived experience and the multi-faceted processes of leading change for teacher education in contemporary contexts – the transitions, change, and uncertainties inherent in these contexts. What really struck me about the reflections in these short essays is how clearly they underscore the critical role of deans in provoking, supporting and championing new ideas and approaches to pedagogy for teacher education. Their voices clarify many of the complexities involved in leading the change, but they also resonate with optimism and determination. That said, the limited scope of related research available also suggests urgent attention needs to be paid, in both research and practice, to better understandings of this increasingly complex role, and support for more coherent approaches to the preparation of deans and their sustainable leadership. More than anything else, I hope this project will inspire others to truly listen to the voices of these Canadian deans of education.

Further information, including the Table of Contents and a sample of the first three chapters, is available at:


Our New Book! Growing as a Teacher: Goals and Pathways of Ongoing Teacher Learning

Growing as a Teacher book cover

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.



Review of literature on teacher educators

I (Clare) am reading the recently published book, The Professional Teacher Educator: Roles, BehaLunenberg text coverviour, and Professional Development of Teacher Educators by Mieke Lunenberg, Jurrien Dengerink, and Fred Korthagen. https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/authors/auth-mieke-lunenberg/ The book is review of 137 key publications on teacher educators. I found their identification of the six roles of teacher educators interesting and informative: teacher of teachers, researcher, coach, curriculum developer, gatekeeper, and broker. They discuss forms of professional development for each role. There is also an extended case study of a group of Dutch educators. For those interested in the study of teacher educators you might find their exhaustive research useful.

Professional Identity

Today I (Clive) was teaching my School and Society (social foundations) course in the preservice program. Our topic was professional identity. What a class we had! We discussed:

·      Teachers’ perception of their role

·      Motivation and satisfaction

·      Challenges of teaching

·      Work-life balance

·      Confidence

·      Stance in relation to system mandates

I selected a number of quotes from our chapter on professional identity from our upcoming text: Growing as a Teacher (Sense Publishers). The students took turns reading these quotes aloud which proved to be very powerful. We brought the “voices” of the teachers into the class. Here are a few of the quotes we read:

Classroom teachers have an enormously challenging job; I didn’t realize that when I first started teaching, but now I do. And that hasn’t made me any less effective, if anything it’s made me somewhat more; because now I’m kinder to myself. I see that basically the teacher sets the atmosphere of the classroom, and if you’re constantly stressed out and trying to attain the impossible you become a frustrated and burnt out person. (Felicity, eighth year teacher)

The most important aspects of my role are ensuring that my students develop a positive sense of self; that they acquire a love of learning; and that they develop a world perspective, with compassion and understanding for other people. Embedded in that are social skills; but it’s bigger than that, because I want them to see beyond their own life and community. This view of my role is broader than it used to be. If you’d asked me when I started teaching I would have said the world citizenship component was important, but it didn’t play into my daily practice to the extent it does now. (Tanya, eighth year teacher)

Coming out of my inner-city pre-service program, where the emphasis was on being a change-maker and inspiring every kid, I had to learn that it can often be slow going and I have to not feel defeated if I fail to accomplish everything I hoped for. Because…you really, really need to enjoy teaching to last in the profession, and it’s draining and can get frustrating. I’ve always worked in inner-city schools, so I’m mentally prepared for it…[but] I’ve had to learn not to take things personally. Otherwise you go home and things rest in your mind and you get physically sick.  (Jessica, fifth year teacher)

Basing my teaching on where the students are and where they need to be [according to the standards-based approach], I found I ended up teaching to the test; and the whole fun and love of learning went out the door. So I changed my process, and asked: What am I teaching? What skills need to be taught? How can I get that across to them in a way that they’ll enjoy? And then after reflecting on it, and seeing where it didn’t work so well, I asked: What should I change?   (Lucy, fifth year teacher)

Perils of Proofreading

We had a wonderful Christmas and now back to work. Clive and I have the proofs for our upcoming tClive and Clareext Growing as a Teacher: Goals and Pathways of Ongoing Teacher Learning. This step of the publishing process is mixed: it is so exciting to see the page proofs but then there is the painstaking step of proofreading. Clive is the best proofreader – me, I am the worst. I think this is because I read so quickly that I skim over the mistakes. I just do not pick them up. When I was a classroom teacher, I used to teach my students strategies for proofreading knowing full well that there are readers like me who just do not see the errors. Thankfully Clive is such a careful reader that he spots each one. Next we will place electronic post-it notes on the manuscript flagging each correction. This step I find nerve-wracking because this process is quite finicky. Sometimes I get the post-it note placed in the exact spot, other times, I fiddle and fiddle with the placement of it.

We want to give a shout-out to Sense Publishers https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/authors/auth-clare-kosnik-/who are publishing this book. This is the third book that I have done with them and they are an absolute joy with whom to work. Consistently, they have great project managers and the page proofs tend to be fairly clean. Wish us luck! Clare