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From teacher student to professional teacher. Professor Anne Grete Solstad Bodø University College Norway. The task of teacher education. Develop teacher students´competence to teach in a responsible and accountable way. Two legitimate learning arenas

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From teacher student to professional teacher


Anne Grete Solstad

Bodø University College


the task of teacher education
The task of teacher education

Develop teacher students´competence to teach in a responsible and accountable way.

Two legitimate learning arenas

  • Theoretical studies at universities / schools of education
  • Practical experiences as student teachersi

(In Norway 4 years; pedagogy 30 ects over the first two years which are common for all teacher students – from 2010: 60 ects over three years including a bachelor thesis.

Practice 20 weeks: 6+8+4+0)

what is responsible and accountable in professional teaching
What is ”responsible and accountable” inprofessional teaching?

NOKUT 2006; White Paper No. 11 2008-09:

- critical reflection / self-reflection

- participation in discussions on educational issues based on scientific knowledge and thinking

  • questioning traditions and routines, and actively working for improvement and innovation in their own and the school´s practice
professional identity
Professional identity

- a more or less conscious apprehension of what constitutes good and professional teaching and learning (Heggen 2005)

- delvelops through participation in professional communities in cooperation with others on concrete tasks (Wenger 1998)

- knowledge and skills are transmitted through language and communication(Vygotsky 1978; Säljö 2006)

This implies that

  • Theoretical perspectives and the habit to reflect must be experienced by teacher students as normal teaching activities
what do student teachers actually learn through pre service teaching solstad 2009
What do student teachers actually learn through pre-service teaching?(Solstad 2009)
  • Students starting their 4 yearteachereducation 2006 at BUC (43 in 2006, 34 spring 2008)
  • Survey over thetwo first years and fourpracticeperiods (14 of 20 weeks)
  • Themes:Waysofworking, Evaluation, Adaptededucation, Activelearning and pupilparticipation, Reflection and mentoring, Relationshipbetweentheory-practice
  • Method:

- Enquete, mainlyopenquestionsdistributedaftereachpracticeperiod. Response 85-90%

- Anonymityveryimportant: a numberfollowingeachteacher student

- Themesrepeated, butvariations in formulations

  • Manuel categorising as themeswhitinthemesemerged

Focusontherelationshiptheory – practice, and reflection and mentoring (professionalaspectsofteacherqualifications)

theory and practice the students view after the 1 practice period
Theory and practice The students´ view after the 1. practice period:
  • The theoretical perspectives opened my eyes for how children learn and why they react as they do (S15)

(Quote representative for 45% of the students)

  • No! No theoretical perspectives have helped me or meant anything for me, as a student teacher, or as an observer (S19)

(Quote representative for about 30% of the students)

theory and practice the students view after the 2 practice period
Theory and practiceThe students´ view after the 2. practice period:
  • Theory creates confidence and is important for my planning and co-operation with the pupils
  • Theoretical knowledge helps me to reflect on own choices and decicions, and promote discussions (S22)
  • Quotes representative for 60% of the students
  • The change-over of theory at the university and practice in schools are regarded as very important
theory and practice the students view after the 3 practice period
Theory and practiceThe students´ view after the 3. practice period:
  • Theoretical insight helps me to to argue for what I think is important, and to reflect on my descisions (S14)
  • I could have written a thesis on this matter. Theoretical knowledge is the first building block we need (S23)

(Representative for about 80% of the students)

But also

  • I will not say that theoretical insight is not necessary, but I do believe much more in experiences – both my own and those of others (S16)
theory and practice the students view after the 4 practice period
Theory and practiceThe students view after the 4. practice period:
  • 90% of the students argue that the theoretical insight and knowledge they have acquired is necessary
    • for argumentation in planning so that decisions can be rooted in theory
    • as a base for reflection and innovation
reflection in teacher education dale 2001 ulvik 2007
Reflection in teacher education( Dale 2001, Ulvik 2007)

Practice oriented reflection (practice as training)

  • based on experiences and ”what works”
  • theory is not important.

Professional reflection (practice as education)

  • critical reflection, self-reflection
  • theory is an important tool

Professional reflection in pre-service teaching is necessary to educate authoritative, independant teachers – as described in official papers

Reflection ”in advance” is central to intellectual and professional growth (Dewey 1904, Brüsling 1994, Rodgers 2007)

reflection in teaching practice as experienced and described by the students
Reflection in teaching practice – as experienced and described by the students
  • Reflection is mainly done after a lesson
  • Reflection is mostly instrumental /practice oriented, focusing on ”technical” aspects and what the students could have done better in the preceding lesson
    • Tutoring has helped me to be more clever … I have tried to change what she wanted me to change (13)
what about reflection in advance
What about reflection ”in advance”?

- reflection in advance (professional reflection) was often neglected because of ”lack of time”,

- functionedmostly as an acceptanceofwhatthe students hadplanned, just before starting thelesson

- functionedassecurity

the students experiences solstad 2009
The students´ experiences (Solstad 2009)

Only few students

  • experienced professional and critical reflection
  • met mentors who challenged their ideas and thinking, or engaged them in professional discussions and argumentation
the mentor s role students perceptions
The mentor´s role - students´ perceptions
  • The practice teachers mean a lot. We had a good one who encouraged us to critical analysis and reflection, of self and others
  • The reason why it is difficult to relate theory and practice is that the practice teachers never mention theoretical perspectives …(S41)
  • Theory has not been in my mind one single day (S19)
developping professional identity
Developping professional identity-
  • Meaning is constructed through communication and cooperation i concrete situations

(Wenger 1998, Säljö 2006)

  • By participating in normal teacher activities together with competent others as legitimate peripheral members

(Lave og Wenger 1991, Wenger 1998)

learning through pre service teaching
Learning through pre-service teaching

Mentors are competent teachers serving as models for student teachers

Professional growth, thus, implies that student teachers

- meet practice teachers who focus on professional aspects of teachers´ work

- experience critical reflection/thinking and pedagogical argumentation as part of professional teaching practice

- former assumtions are verbalised and challenged


Experiences with theory based practice will inform the students that critical reflection and theoretical perspectives are normal parts of professional competence

  • Such experiences will, thus, be expressions of competence and good teaching (prof. identity)
from teacher student to professional teaching cultural perspectives
From teacher student to professional teaching Cultural perspectives
  • Meaning is constructed through communication and cooperation in concrete situations(Wenger 1999, Säljö 2006)
  • Profesional identity develops and will be stabilised when the new teacher starts working as a teacher (Heggen 2005)
  • If the new school does not focus on critical reflection and scientific thinking, such perspectives will not be looked at as part of the culture the new teachers are going to be part of
  • Theoretical perspectives which may be meaningful and give membership at the university, may be considered irrelevant and farfetched when entering a new school culture
professional growth solstad 2009 2010
Professional growth(Solstad 2009, 2010)
  • Ifthehabit to reflectonown and others´ practice is establishedthroughexperiences in pre-serviceteaching, the students will more likelyintegratesuchperspectivesintotheirfutureteaching
  • Ifteacher students are to develop and stabilise a professionalidentity, theory must be related to practice, and practice must includetheoreticalperspectives and criticalreflection
  • When entering the profession, new teachers have to meet a culture and a mentor that values the balance between challenge and support and appreciate and encourage critical thinking and reflection

- if not, mentoring may accelerate adaption to and acceptance of existing culture, without questioning


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Brüsling, C. (1994): Vad är praktik? I Brüsling, Ch., Langsjö, E. og Strömquist, G.: Alla kan inte gå samma väg. Om praktiken i grundskollärarutbildningen. Rapport nr. 6. Mölndal: Göteborgs Universitet, Institutionen för metodik i lärarutbildningen, s. 7-15.

Dale, E.L. (2001). Pedagogikkutdanning og erkjennelsesinteresser. I Kvernbekk, T. (red.): Pedagogikk og lærerprofesjonalitet. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk, s. 67 – 82.

Dewey, J. (1904/64) . The Relation of Theory to Practice in Education. I Archambault, R.D. (red.): Dewey on education. Selected writings. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, s. 313-339. / N.Y: Modern Library.

Edwards, A. og Protheroe, L. (2003): Learning to See in Classrooms: what are student teachers learning about teaching and learning while learning to teach in schools? I British Educational Research Journal, Vol. 29, nr. 2,s. 227-242.

Heggen, K. (2005). Fagkunnskapens plass i den profesjonelle identiteten. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 6, 446-459.


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Lortie, D. (1975). Schoolteacher. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lave, J. og Wenger, E. (1991/99). Situated learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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NOKUT (2006). Evaluering av allmennlærerutdanningen i Norge 2006. Del 1 Hovedrapport.

Numan, U. (1999): En god lärare. Luleå: Institutionen för pedagogikk och ämnesdidaktik. Luleå tekniska universitet.

Rodgers, C. I (2007):Att definiera reflektion: John Dewey och det reflektivt tänkandet. I Brüsling, Ch. og Strömquist, G. (red.): Reflektion och praktik i läraryrket.Lund: Studentlitteratur, s. 49-80.


Solstad, A. G. (2009). Praksis i lærerutdanningen. Om lærerkunnskap og allmennlærerstudenters læring i praksis. HBO-rapport nr. 5. Bodø: Høgskolen i Bodø.

Solstad, A. G. (2010). Praksisnær teori og teorinær praksis – den nødvendige relasjonen. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 3, 203-218.

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Säljö, R. (2006). Læring, kunnskap og sosiokulturell utvikling: mennesket og dets redskaper. I Bråten, I. (red), LÆRING i et sosialt, kognitivt og sosialt-kognitivt perspektiv. Oslo: Cappelen akademisk forlag, 31-57.

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