'Learning to teach' : developmental teaching patterns of student teachers.

Rusznyak, Leanne
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The process of ‘learning to teach’ is still not well understood. In particular, existing research does not fully reflect the complexities of the process; how student teachers’ level of subject matter knowledge influences their teaching, or how their placement affects the process. This study provides an alternative nonlinear, relational model for understanding the process of ‘learning to teach’. I study the ways in which 66 BEd students teach during eight school-based Teaching Experience sessions, conducted over the four year duration of their preservice teaching degree. I primarily draw on evidence obtained from lesson observation reports written by university tutors as they respond to lessons taught by this cohort of student teachers. I cluster their comments into five facets necessary for enabling learning, namely, student teachers’ knowledge and understanding of content; their preparation; their teaching strategies; their classroom management; and the ways in which they monitor learning. These five facets have links to the process of teaching described by Shulman’s (1987b) Model of Pedagogical Reasoning and Action. Within each of these five facets, varying levels of competence were demonstrated by the student teachers in this study. I develop an analytical tool that describes four developmental levels of student teaching over each of the five facets of the teaching process. An in-depth study of the developmental teaching portraits of five student teachers illustrates that they are often more advanced in some facets of their teaching, and less so in others. The portraits highlight the ways in which certain facets affect teaching in other facets. The interactions between these differing levels and facets give rise to particular challenges that student teachers experience as they ‘learn to teach’. Some of these challenges are more significant than others, as certain inter-facet relationships are essential to the development of pedagogically reasoned action, and other relationships are less crucial. My findings suggest that although ‘learning to teach’ is a non-linear process, there nevertheless exists a logical hierarchy within the facets, whereby some facets create conditions of possibility for others. In particular, I find that the way in which student teachers use their knowledge and understanding of the content to inform other facets, establishes the 2 logical conditions necessary for the development of teaching as pedagogically reasoned action.
Learning to teach, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Student teachers, Classroom teaching, Practical teaching, Professional teacher knowledge, Subject matter knowledge, Pedagogy