Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Professional Development of Teacher Educators: Reflections on the Current Situation and Exploration of Future Strategies

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Professional Development of Teacher Educators: Reflections on the Current Situation and Exploration of Future Strategies

Article excerpt

Abstract

Teacher educators are tutors who lead and promote the professional development of teachers and teachers-to-be. As such, the level of professional development of these educators themselves directly influences both the subsequent quality of teachers at all levels, and the level of a country's education as a whole. This paper analyses the current situation of the professional development of Chinese teacher educators from four perspectives. The paper also analyses the current gaps in their professional development, and proposes strategies for the purpose of promoting educators'progression.

Key words: Teacher educator; Professional development; Current situation; Strategy

INTRODUCTION

Promoting the professional development of teachers and improving their teaching quality is a vital aspect of the development of teacher education. While there have been many studies conducted by Chinese researchers on teachers' professional development, the same attention has not been paid to "the teacher of teachers", i.e., teacher educators. Simply speaking, teacher educators are professionals who specialise in the work of teacher education and promote the professional development of teachers-to-be. To date, the studies undertaken by Chinese scholars on teacher educators mostly focus on analysing the professional standards of teacher educators in foreign countries (Zheng, 2013; Wang, 2013). These studies also tend to focus on educators'own development patterns, i.e., self-studies (Zheng, 2011; Liu, 2009). However, no in-depth research has been conducted on the current situation, challenges/gaps and other issues related to specifically Chinese teacher educators' professional development. China has always exerted itself to improve the quality of its teaching body; given that the professional development level of teacher educators directly influences both the quality of teachers at all levels and the level of the education as a whole, more efforts should be made to study the professional development of teacher educators. This paper aims to contribute to filling this gap.

1. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK

1.1 Theoretical Background

The Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) defines teacher educators as "educators who provide formal instruction or conduct research and development for educating prospective and practicing teachers", they provide the professional education component of preservice programs and the staff development component of inservice programs, including faculty in higher education who provide course work and conduct research as described by NCATE as professional studies, including clinical experiences; personnel in schools who provide instruction or supervision of clinical experiences of prospective teachers; personnel in schools who administer or conduct instructional activities designed to provide advanced professional study for teachers; personnel from other agencies who design, implement, and evaluate professional study for teachers (Association of Teacher Educators). The Dutch Association for Teacher Educators (VELON) defines teacher educators as someone who works within higher vocational education or university (institute-based educator), or in a professional development school (school-based teacher educator), and who provides a formal contribution to the development of prospective and active (school) teachers (Swennen, 2012). Smith holds that teacher educators are responsible for providing teachers-to-be with strong foundations of professional knowledge and with tools for ongoing, independent professional development (Smith, 2005).

Historically, given the continuous development of teacher education, there have been increasing types of teacher educators participating in teacher education and training; geographically, the pattern of teacher education varies across countries, as does the identity of teacher educators. In this paper, teacher educators mainly refer to the teacher educators in higher education who help teachers-to-be lay a solid foundation of professional knowledge and instruct professional development skills to them. …

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