Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Professionally Developing as a Teacher Educator

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Professionally Developing as a Teacher Educator

Article excerpt

Professional development of teacher educators is too important not only to teacher education, but also to the educational system as a whole, to be left in a virginal state regarding research and documentation.

--Smith (2003, pp. 213-214)

The literature is awash with studies about, models of, and approaches to, the professional development of teachers (see, for example, Beijaard, Meijer, Morine-Dershimer, & Tillema, 2005; Borko, 2004; Clarke, 1995; Elmore, 2002; Finegold, 2010; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001; Lieberman & Miller, 2001; Loughran, 1999; Mitchell & Mitchell, 2005; Webster-Wright, 2009). However, it has only been in recent times that the notion of professional development of teacher educators has begun to emerge as a touchstone for not only what it means to become, but also to learn as, a teacher educator (Bates, Swennen, & Jones, 2011). Smith (2003), like a growing list of others in the last decade, has called for a serious consideration of the professional development of teacher educators and for it to be systematically studied. But what does it really mean to professionally develop as a teacher educator?

It could reasonably be argued that an important difference between the notion of professional development in relation to teachers and teacher educators is enmeshed in the sense of professional autonomy and responsibility attached to the respective roles and their accompanying expectations. Mockler (2005), for example, characterized a common approach to the professional development of teachers as "spray-on" professional development, that is, one-off workshops presented by consultants with little long-term impact or as mandated "upskilling" for policy implementation as a result of a top-down approach to change. Although arguments have been made about the need to differentiate between professional development and professional learning for teachers (Groundwater-Smith & Mockler, 2009; Hardy, 2010), at the heart of the notion of professional development is a concern for the learning about pedagogy and the alignment of teaching intents and learning outcomes as a major driver for growth: "at the core of such endeavours is the understanding that professional development is about teachers learning, learning how to learn, and transforming their knowledge into practice for the benefit of students' growth" (Avalos, 2011, p. 10).

Despite the fact that, through their rhetoric, education systems might appear to support views such as those espoused by Avalos, a prevailing perception is that professional development too often revolves around doing things to teachers rather than with teachers. The same should not be the case for teacher educators; a professional group that for all intents and purposes has much more autonomy and control over their work than teachers per se. Thus, for teacher educators, Avalos' view of "professional growth" through professional development offers a way of beginning to think about how to conceptualize teacher educators' professional development in meaningful ways. This article explores what such a conceptualization might look like and how it might be realized in practice through exploring the framework proposed in Figure 1. The framework is an attempt to illustrate how the development of teacher educators' knowledge and practice of teaching and learning about teaching is intimately tied to: understandings of identity; the challenges and expectations of the teacher education enterprise; and, the place of scholarship as an important marker of knowledge, skill, and ability in the academy.

The framework in Figure 1 has been constructed to make clear some of the key learnings inherent in the efforts of those who have chartered a successful path in their professional development as teacher education scholars. By portraying those learnings, the professional development journey to be embarked upon by others might be made more clear, navigable, and inviting. …

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