Practitioner Research in Higher Education, Vol 6, No 2 (2012)

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Being a school-based teacher educator: developing pedagogy and identity in facilitating work-based higher education in a professional field

Pete Boyd, Jon Tibke


Facilitating work-based learning in higher education involves the educator in developing both their pedagogy and their professional identity. A current policy drive in England is towards school-embedded teacher education programmes facilitated by school-based teacher educators. The promoted schemes involve postgraduate student teachers being formally based in schools for the duration of their programme. This work-based approach involves school-based teacher educators who teach school students regularly as well as having a considerable responsibility for teaching and coaching their student teachers. This is a significant change from previous partnership-based teacher education where university-based teacher educators collaborated with school-based ‘mentors’, experienced teachers, to provide taught sessions in the university plus work-based learning in school. Many of these postgraduate teacher education programmes include credit-bearing modules at Masters level and an award at postgraduate certificate level. After qualification some teachers use these credits to study part-time towards a full Masters award.

This paper focuses on the workplace learning and developing identity of a school-based teacher educator who teaches music classes for school students, contributes to extra-curricular music activities in the school, and educates ten secondary music specialist postgraduate student teachers completing a one-year postgraduate programme. The study uses a reflective diary kept by the school-based teacher educator for a full academic year combined with semi-structured interviews at intervals. The interview transcripts and selected segments of the reflective diary were subjected to qualitative thematic analysis.

The findings of this small-scale study suggest that there is great potential in the school-embedded approach to facilitate powerful classroom experiences for student teachers supported by coaching and opportunities for collaborative and reflective learning. However, for this integrated teacher education to be ‘higher education’ – rather than technical training – has important implications for the school as a workplace environment and for the professional knowing and identity of the school-based teacher educator. Learning to teach is complex, relational, and challenging and student teachers need space to be learners as well as teachers. Becoming an effective school-based teacher educator, facilitating work-based higher education, will be no less challenging.

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ISSN 1755-1382