Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

So How Do You Teach Literacy in Teacher Education?: literacy/English Teacher Educators' Goals and Pedagogies

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

So How Do You Teach Literacy in Teacher Education?: literacy/English Teacher Educators' Goals and Pedagogies

Article excerpt

I believe that as a community, we need to be invested in the belief that literacy (and literacy teaching) is far more complicated than has been characterised in the current discourse of reform.... We need research on literacy teacher educators as individuals--their vision and development, research on their literacy courses, research on student teachers, and research on graduates of our literacy courses. This has the potential not merely to document the work of exemplary teacher educators, but to influence public discourse, policy, and practice. (Ghiso et al., 2013, p. 202)

The study Literacy Teacher Educators: Their Backgrounds, Visions and Practices will help address the gaps noted by Ghiso et al. (2013) above. The overall goal of the research which includes 28 literacy/English teacher educators (LTEs) in four countries: Canada, United States, England and Australia is to study in-depth the backgrounds, pedagogies and practices of a specific group of teacher educators. This article focuses on the elements of a pedagogy of literacy teacher education. The article begins with a discussion of a pedagogy of teacher education followed by a consideration of changing literacy practices.

The specific questions that guided this aspect of the study are:

* What are the elements of a pedagogy of literacy teacher education?

* What opportunities for learning do LTEs offer to help student teachers understand the changing conception of literacy?


Pedagogy of teacher education

There has long been a misconception that good classroom teachers 'make' good teacher educators (Zeichner, 2005); however, in Loughran's groundbreaking text, Developing a Pedagogy of Teacher Education (2006) he debunks this myth. He argues that teaching about teaching is a very different enterprise than teaching children. He states '[b]eing a teacher educator requires an understanding of teaching that goes beyond being a good teacher. There is a need to be able to theorise practice in such a way as to know and be able to articulate the what, how and why of teaching and to do so through the very experiences of teaching and learning about teaching' (2006, p. 14). Loughran brings together the many themes of his position in a set of principles for teacher education which include: need for sensitivity; building trust; being honest; valuing independence; reflection; and risk-taking. He sees these principles 'as the essence of teaching about teaching ... principles are the foundation for reflection on practice' (2006, p. 98). Not to be used as a checklist, he suggests that teacher educators should cloak these principles in content for their context while using them to think about teaching about teaching. The theme of reflection both by teacher educators and student teachers is prevalent throughout.

Pedagogy in teacher education is complicated (Darling-Hammond, 2006; Kennedy, 2006; Ellis et al., 2010) because '[o]ne of the particular aspects of initial teacher education is its layered nature--it is teaching about teaching. This creates a complex learning environment ...' (Boyd, Harris & Murray, 2007 p. 13). Kosnik et al. (2013) describe the challenge of pedagogy in higher education:

   Beginning teachers consistently display an insatiable
   desire for 'tool kits', or 'tricks of the trade'--things
   they can implement immediately even when there are
   few methods that will work universally ... Pedagogical
   knowledge for teacher educators transcends the doing
   of teaching to achieve the understanding of teaching
   about teaching with the requisite skills and dispositions
    (pp. 340-341).

The European Commission (2013) recognises that 'the knowledge about teaching teachers is still highly fragmented, and teacher educators are in need of a more comprehensive pedagogy of teacher education' (Swennen & van der Klink, 2009, p. 220). In most countries there is not yet a shared understanding of a pedagogy of teacher education. …

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