Teachers as Mentors: A Practical Guide

By Barbara Field; Terry Field | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

An Overview

Terry Field

Teacher education is changing; it is evolving. The complexities of teaching have always presented a challenge as to how best beginning teachers can be guided, educated and trained in acquiring the skills necessary to provide quality educational experiences for the children in their classes. The current wave of change has focused on an analysis of teacher competencies as a means of seeking to address the needs of student teachers as individual learners and to enhance the quality of teaching generally. The move to school-based teacher education in England is competencies-driven, as is shown in the DfE circulars that list competencies for beginning teachers (see Chapter 1). The similar move in Australia has as one of its precursors, lists of teaching competencies for beginning teachers. There are some who resist the competency base of school-based teacher education, yet the assessment and progress documents of the four case studies in the book use them to their own ends. As long as the complexities of the teaching task are not lost in the imposed uniformity of a list of competencies, such lists can provide a useful focus on the elements of teaching.

Teacher educators have been experimenting with different course patterns for many years, all too often, however, without giving due concern to student teachers' views and feelings about their experiences. We believe that when making decisions about the practicum it is wise to listen to the voices of the student teachers themselves, as they are the ones who experience the stresses and traumas of growing into being a teacher. The students whose journals were reviewed in Chapter 2 express a need for more of a school base to their pre-service teacher education. That chapter clearly demonstrated the wide range of discourses used in the thinking of student teachers as they address the challenges of the classroom and the needs of young learners. The realities of classroom teaching appear to stimulate their thinking very positively in the development of strategies to improve their own responses in the classroom. This would point to the need for more time in school for student teachers.

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