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Real-Time Coaching for Pre-Service Teachers  

Erica Sharplin, Garth Stahl, and Ben Kehrwald

Teaching in the early 21st century is subject to a high degree of scrutiny around effectiveness and competence. It has been argued that teachers effect student learning most positively when they take ownership of their own craft. Coaching models provide pre-service teachers with opportunities to do just that, specifically, to engage in purposeful learning activities, receive and provide feedback, and reflect on and discuss their practice. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are differences between coaching and mentoring. The National Framework for Mentoring and Coaching defines mentoring as a structured process for supporting professional learners through career transitions, whereas coaching enables the development of a specific aspect of practice and the embedding of specialist knowledge. Coaching for in-service teaching has been accepted practice since the early 1980s, but its adoption in pre-service teacher education is relatively new. As research on the potential of coaching has developed, interest in it continues to gain momentum in higher education. Pre-service teaching coaching models often incorporate training in coaching and/or instructional techniques, behaviors and technology, feedback and reflection. Also, models usually follow a cycle comprised of pre-conference, observation and post-conference, although technological innovations are seeing a shift from deferred (asynchronous) feedback to immediate (synchronous) feedback, which is arguably more effective. To date, coaching in pre-service education has been non-evaluative. Generally, pre-service teachers value the results of coaching, which include rapid skill development, the promotion of reflective practice, growth in self-confidence and improved student learning. However, the time-consuming nature of coaching, particularly with synchronous models, is a barrier to adoption.

Article

Simple and Complex Views of Teacher Development  

Jane Jones and Viv Ellis

Development is a keyword in the vocabulary of teacher education research. Keywords are high-frequency words and phrases that while bringing people together in conversation are nonetheless sites of significant contestation in the field. At its most basic level, in the phrase “teacher development,” development can refer either to the development of the teacher (personal-professional formation) or to the development of the practice (teaching). Adopting descriptive categories from literacy research to delineate “simple” and “complex” views on the underlying questions of development, it becomes clear that, within such a dichotomous construction, “simple” approaches are insufficient either to describe or to plan for becoming a teacher and experiencing growth in professional practice. Underpinning these “simple” and “complex” views in the research on teacher education, divergent perspectives on formation (e.g., the “natural born teacher” vs. becoming through struggling with an identity) and learning (e.g., high-intensity training in “moves” vs. complex trajectories of participation in social practices and the growth of critical reflexivity). Thus, in the research literature, it is possible to discern critical-humanistic and also techno-rationalist clusters of meaning: optimistic yet expansive understandings of learning and change alongside well-intentioned oversimplifications of inherently contingent and uncertain situations. Navigating these clusters is consequential for how the work of teaching and of educating teachers can be understood. Indeed, the vocabulary of teacher education research needs to be examined much more closely so that, by interrogating keywords such as development, new spaces for a more critical deliberation of becoming a teacher and for more transformative practices of both teaching and teacher education can be stimulated.

Article

Trauma-Informed Practice in Early Childhood Education  

Elspeth Stephenson

Early traumatic experiences can have a profound impact on the developing brain causing a catastrophic effect on a child’s growth and development, the result of which can be lifelong. Early childhood educators have a critical role to play in the lives of children who have trauma histories. These educators are well positioned to undertake this work because early childhood philosophy and pedagogy align with the needs of a child who has experienced early adversity. Beliefs about the role of relationships, attachment, and felt safety are central to this work. To be effective, however, educators need to be trauma informed in their practice. Understanding how adverse experiences cause adaptation to the developing brain and impede development is a good starting place to becoming trauma informed, but translating this understanding into practice is key to success. While there are strategies that can support educators to work effectively with children with trauma histories, strategies alone will not suffice. They cannot simply be applied to any situation. If educators apply strategies without due thought and consideration in relation to the child’s needs and context, at best they may be ineffective and at worst, there is potential to retraumatize the child. All educators and children are unique individuals and therefore bring different attributes to each situation. Educators who understand themselves and their attributes can use this knowledge, along with their understanding of context and the impact of trauma, to make informed decisions about their practice. While this reflective process can sound arduous, educators can quickly become skilled as they hone their craft and see changes to their practice bring successful outcomes for children. In this way, early childhood educators have the capacity to change developmental trajectories for children and make a difference that will be lifelong.