Teaching and Teacher Education 26 (2010) 767–774
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Training preservice teachers rapidly: The need to articulate the training given by university supervisors and cooperating teachers Se´bastien Chalie`s a, *, Françoise Bruno-Me´ard b, Jacques Me´ard b, Ste´fano Bertone b a b
DATIEF, University Institutes of Teacher Training of Toulouse, 118, Route de Narbonne, 31078 Toulouse, France DATIEF, University Institutes of Teacher Training of Nice, France
a r t i c l e i n f o
a b s t r a c t
Article history: Received 13 August 2008 Received in revised form 3 September 2009 Accepted 5 October 2009
This study evaluated the impact of a speciﬁc program on the training of preservice teachers; the program consisted of alternating periods of ‘‘condensed’’ and autonomous classroom work and training sequences with university supervisors and cooperating teachers in order to prepare for these practical work periods. Borrowing from an original theoretical conceptualization of teacher training and professional development based on the postulates of Wittgenstein’s analytical philosophy (In G.E.M. Anscomb and G.H. Von Wright (Eds.). (1996). Remarques philosophiques [Philosophical Investigations]. Oxford: Blackwell.), this study (i) examined the circumstances in which preservice teachers are able to use experiences from training situations for professional growth in the training situations and/or in later classroom situations and (ii) proposes ideas for articulating the training work of university supervisors and cooperating teachers. Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Teacher education School–university partnership Preservice teacher–cooperating teacher– university supervisor relationships
1. Introduction Teacher training in France comprises two distinct steps, in contrast to the training practices in a number of other European countries. The ﬁrst step for future teachers is a university education to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. Once this degree has been obtained, national competitive exams are taken. Those who succeed are accepted into a University Institute of Teacher Training for one year of specialized training, with the status of preservice teacher (PT). As this preservice training is limited to just one year, regular reforms ensure that the program is optimized. The most recent reform (Bulletin Ofﬁciel n 1 du 4 janvier 2007) emphasized the principle of alternating work/study based on the assumption that there is a reciprocal impact of (i) training sequences for PTs, with cooperating teachers (CTs) in the public schools and/or with university supervisors (USs) at the teacher training institute, and (ii) sequences of practical work experience in the classroom. This latest reform gave greater importance to classroom work, which was deﬁned as the ‘‘structuring element of training’’, and proposed a reorganization. Up to now, PTs’ classroom work was ‘‘spun-out’’ in time and organized exclusively as a placement ‘‘with responsibility’’. PTs thus worked alongside CTs in the same classroom(s)
* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ33 562 25 21 26. E-mail addresses: [email protected]
, [email protected]
(S. Chalie`s). 0742-051X/$ – see front matter Ó 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.10.012
once or twice a week over the entire year of certiﬁcation. The other days of the week were devoted to training at the university institute under the direction of USs. As a complement, classroom work experience that is ‘‘condensed’’ in time is now offered. Three times a year, PTs are placed for two to three consecutive weeks in a public school classroom and are given full autonomy. They do not receive university training during this time and are not followed by CTs, who are themselves in continuing education at the teacher training institute. This reform in PTs’ work placement is based on two assumptions. The ﬁrst is that PTs are better trained by exposure to a wide variety of work contexts (each placement is different). The second is that the stability offered by two to three weeks in the same classroom reduces the urgency of PTs’ need to adapt to new experiences and allows them to bring to the fore some of the knowledge acquired in training sequences with the CTs and/or USs. Our study concerns these two assumptions. Although many studies have already questioned the efﬁcacy of alternating sequences of training at the university and/or in the schools and sequences of ‘‘spun-out’’ classroom experience (for a synthesis, see Chalie`s, Cartaut, Escalie´, & Durand, in press), few have studied the impact of alternating programs on professional development when PTs are offered ‘‘condensed’’ and autonomous classroom placements. Yet this research question is all the more important because this training reform seems to be at odds with the major results in the literature. The main limitation of this type of alternation concerns interpretations of how it affects the work of the PT–CT–US training triad, and thus its impact on PTs’ training. Although it has been
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acknowledged that the timing and scheduling of the training sequences in alternating programs need to be optimized (Korthagen, Loughran, & Lunenberg, 2005; Maandag, Folkert Deinum, Hofman, & Buitink, 2007), PTs continue to report that they experience these programs as a collection of mostly unrelated teaching events (Darling Hammond, 2006). Unsurprisingly, this perception makes it hard for them to build connections between the teaching theory taught at the university institute and their practical classroom experiences (Korthagen, Loughran, & Russell, 2006). In contrast to the reforms in France, many authors have thus indicated the need to develop an alternative model (Wilson, 2006) that redeﬁnes the partnership between the ‘‘two largely separate worlds’’ of the university and the classroom (Beck & Kosnik, 2000). These authors have focused on questions beyond mere work placement duration and advocate a complete rethinking of preservice classroom work so that more collaborative, interactive, and truly training-oriented environments can be created (Grisham, Ferguson, & Brink, 2004; Mullen, 2000). From this perspective, CTs and USs would work more closely together alongside the PTs (Christie, Conlon, Gemmell, & Long, 2004). These authors have thus emphasized the importance of alternating programs that facilitate the timing of and connections between training sequences and classroom work, rather than alternating programs with ‘‘condensed’’ and autonomous classroom work. This type of alternation should ultimately lead to a ‘‘process of coconstructing supervision’’ (Paris & Gespass, 2001), with CTs managing the contextualizing of knowledge acquired at the university (Davis, 2006) and USs incorporating PTs’ work experiences into their teaching of theory (Tigchelaar & Korthagen, 2004). This type of environment has been described as ‘‘healthy and stimulating’’ (Zeichner, 2002), and it builds trust and encourages sharing and mutual help (Jipson & Paley, 2000). PTs feel supported by the CTs and USs and are thus more willing to take risks in the classroom (Burbank & Kauchak, 2003) and show more initiative (Bullough et al., 2003) in acting on the theoretical knowledge acquired at the university (Smith & Lev Ari, 2005). Moreover, in this environment PTs use their classroom experiences as objects for reﬂection during the training sequences with CTs and USs that follow (Ottesen, 2007; Parsons & Stephenson, 2005), and this process scaffolds the construction of professional knowledge and skill (Schepens, Aelterman, & Van Keer, 2007). This study aimed to evaluate the effects of a reform to the professional training of PTs that seems at odds with the main results in the scientiﬁc literature. More speciﬁcally, it aimed to (i) determine which circumstances of an alternating training program had an impact on PTs’ training (the program alternated ‘‘condensed’’ classroom placements with training sequences to prepare for them and then to evaluate them) and (ii) to formalize perspectives for optimizing the work of the PT–CT–US triad. 2. Theoretical framework This study was part of a much broader research project in France to evaluate the various alternating work/work analysis programs for teaching training. It used an original theoretical conceptualization of teacher training and professional development based on the postulates of Wittgenstein’s analytical philosophy (1996, 2004). This conceptualization assumes that teacher training, for CTs in the schools and USs at the university, comprises: teaching the professional rules that will allow PTs to give meaning to their experience, explaining to PTs how the rules can be used, and helping the PTs to follow the rules in order to broaden their understanding of the classroom experience and enable them to act adaptively. The ﬁrst element is based on the hypothesis that prior learning is needed to correctly interpret classroom experience (Williams,
2002). Speciﬁcally, PTs need to learn ‘‘rules’’ (Wittgenstein, 1996) that equip them to construct the meaning of their experiences and/or to bring them up as objects of discussion during postlesson training situations. This learning occurs in the course of ‘‘ostensive teaching’’ (Wittgenstein, 1996), during which the CTs and/or USs ground the meaning of professional events and actions that are taken to be exemplary. To do so, they establish a ‘‘meaningful link’’ for each stated rule (Wittgenstein, 1996) between (a) the experiential circumstances identiﬁed and ostensively shown and (b) a language act to name the experience; that is to say, the statement of the rule. The learned rules thus comprise a standardization or grammar of meaning that PTs can give to their experience. This standardization, which operates on the basis of exemplary samples of experience ostensively shown, enables PTs to give meaning to, interpret, and adapt to the singular experiences that they encounter in the classroom and/or in the training situation. The second element is based on the hypothesis that learning rules occurs ﬁrst by ostensive teaching and then by ‘‘explanations’’ and possibly ‘‘critical debate’’ (Williams, 2002) between the CTs and/or USs and PTs. This is the point at which PTs begin to question their CTs and/or USs about the interpretation of uncommon experiences on the basis of the learned rules. The trainers respond to these questions by way of many examples shown and/or described, thereby multiplying the circumstances associated with the rules. These explanations are aimed at (a) addressing failures of understanding and/or correcting misunderstandings and (b) equipping PTs to follow the rules on their own and acceptably (i.e., correctly or in conformity to expectations) in other circumstances. Ultimately, the ostensive deﬁnition of the meaning of professional experiences and the many necessary explanations enable PTs to free themselves from their CTs and/or USs’ teaching and to develop a ‘‘normative capacity’’ (Wittgenstein, 1996) to give meaning to their experience and respond to classroom and/or training situations. The last element assumes that by following the rules learned in training in various classroom and/or training situations, PTs extensively use the meaningful links that have been constructed and become deeply invested in an activity of understanding. Speciﬁcally, extending the links of meaning becomes possible when PTs become capable of recognizing a ‘‘family resemblance’’ (Wittgenstein, 1996) between the circumstances they ﬁnd themselves in and those learned in the training situation, which here function as a kind of ‘‘yardstick’’ (Wittgenstein, 1996). This assumption does not deny mental activity, but rather suggests the usefulness of adopting the idea that learning rules does not presuppose understanding classroom events but, in contrast, precedes any understanding of the events. This assumption of the development of psychological tools as a consequence of learning new concepts can be found in other ﬁelds of research in human activity, notably historical-cultural psychology (Vygotski, 1978). However, the concept of understanding professional circumstances less in terms of mental processes and more in terms of techniques and the extensive use of learned rules has two major interests for this study: (a) the professional rules that CTs and/or USs address to PTs in training are very important for developing PTs’ capacity to interpret and understand their classroom experience and (b) the extensive use of these rules in circumstances other than training circumstances (notably the classroom but also the post-lesson conferences or other training sequences at the university) can be followed and documented. This is possible with an adapted research protocol designed to evaluate the impact of training on PTs’ development of professional activity, both in terms of understanding their experience and the capacity to act in the classroom.
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3. Method 3.1. The training program that was studied The training program under study alternated a condensed, twoweek placement in a classroom with full autonomy with training sequences (in the classroom with the CT and at the university institute with the US). This program is offered to PTs three times in the school year (October, January, and April). For this study, the second placement was analyzed and structured in four steps: Step 1: The PTs made a day-long visit to the classroom that they would be working in the week before the placement began. They were asked to (i) observe the CTs’ professional activity with their students, (ii) discuss with the CTs the work with the students to be continued or begun in the upcoming week, and (iii) keep in mind that they would need to prepare to bring their questions and concerns to the USs on return to the university institute. Step 2: In small groups of six to eight, the PTs attended a twohour training session with a US at the university (at the end of the week preceding the placement). The purpose was to prepare them to teach as effectively as possible. The session contents were based on the PTs’ questions and direct proposals from the USs. Step 3: The PTs managed their classes on their own for the two weeks. The CTs were themselves in training at the university and were thus not available to the PTs. Step 4: At the end of the placement, the PTs prepared a report of their experience for the CTs. They then attended a training session at the university with the US (the same as in Step 2). The main problems encountered were brought up and the merits of various solutions were discussed. 3.2. Participants Three PT–CT–US triads, each from one the three training groups, volunteered to participate in this study (Table 1). The PTs had obtained a national competitive exams to teach in French maternal schools (three to ﬁve years) and primary schools (six to 11 years). At the time of the study, they were undergoing professional training and had already had 25 days of teaching experience (ten days in the ﬁrst ‘‘condensed’’ placement and 15 days in a ‘‘spun-out’’ placement of one day per week since the beginning of the school year). The CTs were experienced teachers. They had volunteered to become CTs and had been selected. In the beginning of the school year, they had undergone three days of training at the university, mainly to prepare them to accompany the PTs during their ‘‘spun-out’’ placement. Another goal was to prepare them to welcome PTs into their classrooms for the ‘‘condensed’’ placements and work with the PTs in Table 1 Ages and experience (in years) of the participants. Triad 1
Preservice teachers Age
Cooperating teachers Age Experience as a teacher Experience as a cooperating teacher
38 12 6
38 13 7
42 14 8
University supervisors Age Experience as a teacher Experience as a cooperating teacher Experience as a university supervisor
49 24 10 7
51 25 10 8
52 27 12 8
preparing the lessons during these placements (Step 1) and in evaluating the experience (Step 4). USs have a speciﬁc status within the French educational system: because they are certiﬁed both as teachers and as teacher-trainers, they divide their time between teaching in the public school system and training PTs at the university. 3.3. Data collection The purpose of this study was to evaluate how PTs used their training experiences in the classroom and/or in training situations in this particular type of alternating program. Two types of data were collected and transcribed verbatim. Observational data: For each triad, Steps 1, 2, and 3 were recorded with a video camera placed along the wall of the classroom or training room (long view). The PTs wore microphones. To limit the interference with the PTs’ training program (Step 2), it was decided that only eight of the 16 half-days would be recorded and these half-days would alternate between morning and afternoon sessions. Self-confrontation data: These data were collected from video recordings of the researcher’s self-confrontation interviews with each PT after every training sequence or classroom session. During these interviews, the researcher showed the PT the recording of his or her actions. They watched the video and could stop it or return to events that seemed important and that affected them. All the interviews followed the same protocol. Using semi-structured questions, the researcher sought to determine (i) the language used by the PTs to label the recorded events and (ii) the corresponding experiential circumstances that were shown and/or described. Speciﬁcally, the researcher sought to determine the meaning that the PTs attributed to their or others’ actions as they viewed the recording. The questions encouraged the PTs to describe or justify the meaning they attributed in the various recorded situations [e.g., What is she (the US) insisting on at this moment?’’, ‘‘What exactly are you doing with the students right here?’’]. The researcher regularly prompted the PTs by either requesting that they give greater detail about meaningful elements that had been selected [e.g., ‘‘What do you mean here when you say that she (the US) is not helping very much?’’, ‘‘Why are you saying here that they (the students) are getting impatient?’’] or by challenging them with evidence of contradiction [e.g., ‘‘Why are you asking him (the US) this question when you told me you already know the answer?’’]. 3.4. Data analysis The goal of data analysis was to (i) identify the rules learned and/or followed by PTs in training and/or classroom situations and (ii) evaluate their recurrences in these situations. Based on the procedure proposed by Chalie`s, Bertone, Flavier, and Durand (2008), we processed the data in four steps. Step 1. After transcribing all the observational and selfconfrontation data, the corpus was broken down into units of interaction. These units were delimited by the objects of the meaning that the PTs attributed to the events they viewed on the video during the self-confrontation interviews. A new unit of interaction was determined each time that the object of meaning attributed by the PTs changed. Step 2. For each unit of interaction, the standardization of the meaning attributed by the PTs was identiﬁed. The standardization included all the circumstances evoked by the PTs to explain to the researcher how to give meaning in the same manner – that is to say, by following the same rule – to the events of the training or classroom situation being viewed (see Table 2).
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770 Table 2 Illustration of data processing.
Excerpt from a training sequence between a PT and US (Step 2 of the training program) US: OK, that’s it for the contents. And for the form, you have to be careful, especially with the youngest – but but it’s true with the older children as well – to use your visual and auditory support. So you give your instructions orally and you show them as well. You show them the material; you show them where they have to go. So make sure they see it and hear it so that in one way or the other they understand. Excerpt of the self-confrontation interview between the PT and Analysis researcher (R) about this excerpt from the training sequence Object of the meaning: Use visual and auditory support to present instructions to students PT: Yes, here using visual and auditory support is good, Meaning attributed by the PT: use visual and auditory support to present instructions to it’s good. Maybe. not all the time. students is good but not all the time R: Yes. PT: Maybe systematically alternating between visual and Standardization of the meaning: systematically alternating between visual and auditory auditory. instead of the two every time. Maybe sometimes instead of the two every time and sometimes give an instruction orally and sometimes I’m going to give an instruction orally and maybe sometimes cut it short and show them instead what has to be done I’ll cut it short and show them instead. R: Not the two? Request for standardization by R about the meaning PT: Not all the time. The two are good but maybe not all the time. Standardization of meaning: Not all the time using the two supports R: Why, it’s richer that way, isn’t it? Contradiction pointed out by R PT: Yes, but to try to. that the children themselves have to work Standardization of the meaning: the children have to work and try themselves to put the a little harder. That they try – why not? – by themselves to put instruction into words the instructions into words.
Step 3. For each unit of interaction, the rule that the PT followed to attribute meaning to the events on video was formalized. Each rule was labeled from (i) the object of the meaning attributed by the PT, (ii) the set of circumstances evoked by the PT to standardize the meaning, and (iii) the results noted and/or observed. Each rule was thus presented in the following manner: [‘‘object of meaning’’ is valuable in the circumstances where ‘‘the set of circumstances evoked to standardize the meaning’’, which leads to a ‘‘set of results noted and/or observed’’]. To minimize the researcher’s interpretations, each rule was labeled from the PTs’ vocabulary (Table 3). Step 4. For each training and/or classroom situation, all the formalized rules were categorized in terms of whether they were learned and/or followed by the PT. In line with the theoretical framework, a rule was considered to be learned when (i) it was taught to the PTs by a trainer to help them to give other meaning to events and/or to modify their classroom activity, and (ii) the PTs speciﬁed their novel and interesting character (e.g., ‘‘Now here, (a task) understandable without instructions, that kind of disturbed me’’, ‘‘Here, he (the US) really surprised me’’). A rule was considered to be followed when it was used by the PTs to give meaning to, understand, or act in classroom or training situations. 3.5. Validity of the data Two researchers separately processed the entire corpus. At the end of this process, they analyzed the corpus together using their respective results. Successive comparisons were made and discussed until agreement was reached regarding: (i) the units of interaction, (ii) the objects of meaning and the set of circumstances used to standardize them, (iii) the formalization of the rules, and (iv) their categorization. In cases of disagreement, the result in question was rejected. Fewer than 5% of the corpus elements had to be rejected. Table 3 Illustration of the formalization of a rule followed by a PT. The rule followed by the PT in the excerpt of Table 1 can be formalized as follows: [‘‘use visual and auditory supports’’ (to present instructions to students) is ‘‘good’’ but ‘‘not all the time’’ is valuable in circumstances where (you mustn’t) ‘‘not systematically’’ use the two supports, is valuable in circumstances where (you must) ‘‘systematically alternate between the visual and the auditory rather than give both at the same time’’ (and) ‘‘either give the instruction orally or cut it short and show it to the students’’(what has to be done), which leads to ‘‘the children work harder’ (and) ‘‘try themselves to put the instructions into words’’]
4. Results The results of this study indicate some of the consequences to PTs of a training program that alternates (i) ‘‘condensed’’ and autonomous classroom work and (ii) training sequences to prepare for it. More speciﬁcally, the results revealed how PTs used experiences in training situations with CTs or USs to develop professionally in these situations and/or in the classroom situations that followed (Table 4). In the classroom, the PTs followed nearly half (48%) of the rules that had been learned or followed in training situations. From this perspective, this type of training program was useful, yet it Table 4 Rules followed and/or learned by PTs during training sequences and/or in the classroom. Triads
Training sequence with CT Total rules followed Total rules learned Total rules followed and/or learned Training sequence with US Rules followed after having been learned in training sequence with CT Rules followed after having been followed in training sequence with CT Rules followed without having been learned or followed in training sequence with CT Total rules followed Total rules learned Total rules followed and/or learned Classroom sequence Rules followed after having been learned in training sequence with CT Rules followed after having been followed in training sequence with CT Rules followed after having been learned in training sequence with US Rules followed after having been followed in training sequence with US Rules followed without having been learned or followed in training sequence with CT or US Total rules followed Total rules learned Total rules followed and/or learned Total rules followed and/or learned in training and/or classroom sequences
12 – 12
13 – 13
32 1 33
48 4 52
40 1 41
46 – 46
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deserves a closer look: a detailed analysis of the results indeed conﬁrmed that this type of program imposed limits on PT training. Thus, of the 160 rules followed in the classroom, only four (2.5%) were learned during the training sequence preceding the placement. Nearly all the rules followed by the PTs (97.5%) had already been learned and/or followed in training situations before this particular training module. In other terms, the training sequence preceding the work placement contributed to PT development principally by permitting the PTs to use rules already learned more extensively, with only occasional new rules learned. The four main results describe the circumstances in which the PTs were able to use the training situations with CTs or USs to develop professionally in the training and/or successive classroom situations. 4.1. Training situations that reinforced PTs’ certainties The training sequence that preceded the work placement provided only rare occasions to learn new rules, yet it was judged as ‘‘interesting’’ by the PTs. They were able to obtain from the CTs and/ or USs conﬁrmation of rules they knew and had already followed in other teaching circumstances. The following excerpt illustrates this. At the moment of the training sequence presented here, the US insisted on the importance of preparing the maternal school lesson by bringing up several instructions to carry out preparatory work before interacting with students (Excerpt 1 – Step 2). Excerpt 1 US: I advise you to write up the instructions in your preparatory notes because the word choice is important. So, you need to have all the task components, that means the goal – what they (the students) have to do.The plan, where will the work be carried out? What material is needed? Who will be in charge of the work group (the PT or the classroom assistant)? You also give them the criteria of success. This could be, for example: the collage will be good if you don’t go outside the lines of the circle (.) You can even have an example of the material to show them.All of this is done quickly. As to the form (of the instructions), always use action verbs (.). And don’t give too much information. Using action verbs and then showing the material suggests the rest of the instructions (.). And then if all this is followed, giving instructions should not last too long. During the related self-confrontation interview, the PT paused at this part of the US’s explanation and insisted on the interest of it (Excerpt 2 – Excerpt of the self-confrontation interview dealing with Excerpt 1 of Step 2): Excerpt 2 PT: This reinforced the idea for me that what I’ve seen (in the training situation with the CT in Step 1) and what we’ve used in our placements (in an earlier work placement) is true everywhere. It gets repeated. This conﬁrms. R: It conﬁrms? PT: It conﬁrms that if we don’t have everything together, that if we are missing something. And since I like everything to be prepared and well organized. It’s reassuring; it conﬁrms the idea that it’s not me that is too organized. It really does have to be organized so that nothing is missing. R: So what she says is reassuring? PT: Yes, it conﬁrms the idea that. It’s not just me. Everybody needs a minimum of organization in their preparation. During this intervention, the US did not permit a new rule to be learned. Instead, she reinforced the certainty of a rule learned earlier and followed in the training situation ([‘‘organize the preparation’’ (of the lesson) is valuable in circumstances where (all) ‘‘is well prepared’’, ‘‘well organized’’, which leads to ‘‘nothing is missing’’ (in the actual
lesson)]). At this instant, the US thus contributed indirectly to the professional development of the PT by reassuring him (‘‘it reassures me’’, ‘‘it conﬁrms’’) about what he knew and had already done. This training activity had a double effect. First, the PT was reassured by the fact that a rule learned and already followed in other training circumstances [‘‘This supports the idea that what I had seen (during the training sequence with the CT in Step 1)] as well as teaching circumstances (in an earlier placement in a primary school) could be followed (‘‘it’s true everywhere (.), it gets repeated’’) in other circumstances (in maternal school for the upcoming placement). Second, the PT found in the US’s words elements that allowed him to justify his own personal manner of teaching (‘‘I like to have everything prepared, well organized (.) it’s not just me’’). Although not useful in terms of learning new rules, this exchange was nevertheless perceived as meaningful for the PT, indicating a more extensive application of rules already learned than that being analyzed. 4.2. Certainties that did not help in conducting a class By reinforcing the certainty of the rules already learned and/or followed by PTs, the CTs and the USs contributed to their professional development. One of our research objectives was to determine the impact of this development on PTs’ classroom activity. The excerpt that follows is taken from a self-confrontation interview with the same PT after a classroom lesson following the training sequence. At this moment in the interview, the PT returned to the rule previously worked on in the training session with the US. He commented on giving instructions to a group of students (Excerpt 3 – Excerpt from the self-confrontation interview dealing with a sequence in Step 3). Excerpt 3 PT: Here, this only conﬁrms what I think. You have to carefully prepare (the lesson) to be clear when you present it (the work to be done by the students). R: So here what she (the US) said to you. that was helpful? PT: It consolidated my own convictions but it didn’t help me really in my practice because there, it’s a personal work on myself. And even when we know what has to be done we don’t always do it well because we’re caught up in our enthusiasm. We’re beginners, we lack experience and sometimes we just let things go. We want the work to go well but we’re not always in the best conditions because we’re beginners. At that instant, the PT notes his problem in using the US’s advice as a resource during classroom experience. The US’s advice reinforced the certainty (‘‘it just conﬁrms.what I think’’, ‘‘it consolidates my convictions’’) of a rule learned earlier and followed in the circumstances of the current training situation, as well as past situations with the CT. Yet it was not a resource for more adapted action at the moment of classroom activity (‘‘it didn’t help me really in my practice’’). Moreover, the PT also expressed elements that according to him justiﬁed his classroom difﬁculties. To give meaning to his professional experience, he followed the rule: [‘‘being a beginner’’ is valuable in circumstances where ‘‘we (PTs) know what to do’’ (but) ‘‘we don’t always do it well because we’re caught up in our enthusiasm’’, which leads to ‘‘sometimes we just let things go’’ (and) ‘‘we want the work to go well’’ (but) ‘‘not always in the best conditions’’]. This ﬁnding suggests broader questions about the nature of the CTs’ and USs’ training activity. They surely had a role to play in validating the rules learned and followed by the PTs in certain teaching circumstances, but they did not help the PTs to follow these same rules in the uncommon teaching circumstances that they sometimes encountered. More speciﬁcally, this raises questions about how CTs and USs can encourage PTs to ‘‘extend’’ the rules they have already learned and/or followed in new teaching circumstances.
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4.3. Training situations that responded little to PTs’ uncertainties At the instant considered in this training sequence, the PT questioned the US about the difﬁculty of giving instructions to maternal school students when the class was to be organized into small work groups (Excerpt 4 – Step 2). Excerpt 4 US: You will repeat them (the instructions) again when they get into their small work groups. and don’t give too much information (.) This is to make sure the instructions are clear and concise, and then if all this is well done (the preparation sheet), giving the instructions shouldn’t last too long. PT: We already saw (in the training situation with the CT in Step 1) that it’s important before (going into small groups) to give the set of instructions all at once. There are four work groups and we will be giving four sets of instructions. US: Yes, that’s it! During this training sequence, the US stated the following rule: [‘‘make sure the instructions are clear and concise’’ is valuable in circumstances where ‘‘don’t give too much information’’, which leads to ‘‘the instructions shouldn’t last too long’’ (and) ‘‘repeat them (the instructions) again when they get into their small work groups’’]. During the self-confrontation interview, the PT stated that this intervention conﬁrmed one of his expectations about the need to give all the instructions so that the students would be able to begin working quickly without spending too much time on them, given their limited attention span. He also explained why he asked the question (Excerpt 5 – Excerpt of the self-confrontation interview dealing with Excerpt 4 of Step 2): Excerpt 5 PT: Here, I already know the answer. R: You know it.? PT: What she’s going to say, yes (.) Here, it’s giving instructions. There are four work groups (of students), there are four sets of instructions (.), and rather than say ‘‘this group, you’re going to this, OK, let’s go!’’, we give all the instructions at the same time. That’s what I noticed during my observation (in the training situation with the CT in Step 1). R: So why did you ask the question if you already knew? PT: I want other reasons. I have reasons based on what I’ve seen during training with the CT. I have reasons based on my own teaching experience, and would like to have other reasons (.) to be sure that I’m not making a mistake when I do it and that there are not speciﬁc times when I shouldn’t do it that way (.). That she answers, for example, ‘‘if you’re in this type of situation, well then you don’t do it this way, you give the instructions in a more specialized way’’. R: You would have liked her to answer like that? PT: Yes, with a counter example. R: You’re not sure here? PT: Well, yes, because (.). It’s practical, I did it in the beginning of my ﬁrst placement, saying ‘‘this group (and I give the names) you’re going to do this, so let’s go (.)’’. So I have fewer and fewer students, and the smaller the group gets, the better they listen, and ﬁnally, it’s easy. R: And so she (the US). PT: She didn’t take it any farther so I don’t know. During the training sequence, the PT questioned the US to obtain conﬁrmation of the rule followed by the CT for giving instructions to students; he had observed it (‘‘That’s what I saw during my observation’’) and questioned it (‘‘I have my own arguments for it that I already had during training with the CT’’). This rule was in agreement with one stated during training, but also with one he had followed in the classroom (‘‘I have reasons based on my own teaching
experience’’). The PT knew in advance the US’s response (‘‘I already know the answer’’). Although seemingly without utility, this question was in fact the PT’s request for ostensive explanations from the US, and it is important to understand the meaning of this. In addition to wanting to reinforce the certainty of the rule (‘‘to be sure that I’m not making a mistake when I do it’’), the PT sought to encourage the US to apply this rule in other circumstances (‘‘speciﬁc times when I shouldn’t do it that way’’). This request was particularly important because the PT had already had classroom experiences in which it had seemed better to react differently (‘‘this group (and I give the names) you’re going to do this, so let’s go (.). So I have fewer and fewer students, and the smaller the group gets, the better they listen, and ﬁnally, it’s easy’’). Despite the PT’s insistence, the US did not explain and thus did not respond to his expectations (‘‘she didn’t take it any farther so I don’t know’’). Speciﬁcally, the US ultimately left the PT in uncertainty as to the extension of following the rule in new teaching circumstances and, in this way, limited the impact of this training moment on the PT’s classroom activity.
4.4. Training situations that contributed to PTs’ fortuitous learning At the moment considered in this training sequence, the US insisted on the importance of preparing the tasks and instructions (Excerpt 6 – Step 2). Excerpt 6 US: You have to work on your instructions so that they’re as simple as possible, and the task should be understandable almost without instructions (.). But do the real work during preparation at home; take careful notes of what you’re going to say. It’s important. The success of a task comes from the way the instructions are formulated. During this training sequence, the US standardized the rule: [‘‘succeed at a task’’ is valuable in circumstances where (you have to) ‘‘prepare at home’’, ‘‘take careful notes of what you’re going to say’’, ‘‘work on your instructions so that they’re as simple as possible’’, which leads to ‘‘the task should be understandable almost without instructions’’]. During the self-confrontation interview, the PT spoke about this intervention (Excerpt 7 – Excerpt of the selfconfrontation interview dealing with Excerpt 6 of Step 2): Excerpt 7 PT: So here. ‘‘understandable almost without instructions’’ that kind of disturbed me. I thought ‘‘understandable without instructions’’, I have to give them (the students) a model. R: Which means? PT: A model that reinforces the instructions because that was the understandableness in fact . so that it would be understandable without instructions. So they (the students) understand what they have to do just by looking. For me, there’s only a model that can. This excerpt indicated the PT’s possible misinterpretation of the rule stated and standardized by the US, notably as she did not explain it in detail. This misinterpretation can be assessed in two ways. First, when the US proposed certain circumstances in which it would be possible to ‘‘succeed at the task’’, the PT only gave meaning to the expected result of following the rule (that which leads to the task is ‘‘understandable without instructions’’). By its ‘‘enigmatic’’ character, this element disturbed the PT (‘‘that kind of disturbed me’’) and was also perceived as more meaningful than the other elements of the proposed standardization. At this instant, the PT learned a rule from this partial interpretation: [(a task) ‘‘understandable without instructions’’ is valuable in circumstances where (you have to) ‘‘give them (the students) a model’’ (to)
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‘‘reinforce the instructions’’, which leads to (the students) ‘‘understand what they have to do just by looking’’]. In addition to the fact that this rule did not correspond to the rule stated by the US, the consequences on the PT’s future classroom activity can be questioned. During the self-confrontation interview that followed, the PT remarked to the researcher on following this rule in the classroom (Excerpt 8 – Excerpt of the self-confrontation interview dealing with a sequence of Step 3): Excerpt 8 R: You showed them (the students) the material but you didn’t give them a model? The last time you said: ‘‘she (the US) spoke about a task understandable without instructions and so I gave them a model and sometimes two’’. PT: But for me they had to have the model in their heads since it was a repetition (.). It was repeated in fact. For example, the circle, I’m not going to give them another drawing of a circle. they ought to know it without a model. At the same time, this lets me evaluate whether they have a correct representation. On the other hand, if there was something that they were going to have to learn to do, there yes, they were going to need a model to build a correct representation. This excerpt situates the PT’s classroom development on the basis of learning in the training situation. Speciﬁcally, the PT was able to take into account the result of his activity of understanding. In response to the researcher’s provocation, he proposed new circumstances for using the rule. For the PT, the concrete rule was: [(a task) ‘‘understandable without instructions’’ is valuable in circumstances where (you have to) ‘‘give (the students) a model’’, is valuable in circumstances where (the students) ‘‘are going to have to learn to do’’, which leads to (so that they) ‘‘build a correct representation’’ (of what they need to do)]. In any case, during the classroom situation, this rule needed to be extended to the uniqueness of the circumstances of ‘‘repetition’’ and ‘‘evaluation’’ rather than learning. Last, in these circumstances, the PT was involved in extending a rule that could be formalized as: [(a task) ‘‘understandable without instructions’’ is valuable in circumstances where (the students) ‘‘ought to know it without a model’’ is valuable in circumstances where (the students) ‘‘have the model in their heads’’ which leads to (what was) ‘‘repetition’’ (and this) ‘‘at the same time lets me evaluate’’ (what they know)]. 5. Discussion This study showed the questionable impact of programs that alternate condensed and autonomous classroom placements with training sequences to prepare for them, with CTs and USs separately. It therefore agrees with other studies that have indicated the ineffectiveness of training interactions among PTs, CTs and USs when a dichotomy persists between practical work and training (Borko, Jacobs, Eiteljorg, & Pittman, 2008) or, more broadly, between the schools and the university (Haymore Sandholtz, 2002; Wang & Odell, 2007). Our theoretical framework nevertheless allows us to propose a singular interpretation of the effective but insufﬁcient impact of this program on PTs’ training. It also provides encouragement for a rethinking of the work modalities of the PT–CT–US triad by situating the circumstances in which the work of the ‘‘community of practice’’ (Wenger, 1998) can be carried out. 5.1. An effective impact of the program on PTs’ training Counter to our expectations, this study showed that CTs and USs helped PTs to develop professionally in this type of program. In addition to offering PTs opportunities to learn new work rules, they particularly helped them to evaluate how closely their own
teaching activity conformed to these rules that, in fact, characterize and deﬁne teaching. From this perspective, the PTs perceived the sequences with the CTs and USs as meaningful. They were able to conﬁrm the validity of the rules, often learned at other times and in other circumstances. Although the role of supporting PTs as they face the ‘‘emotional drama of the classroom’’ (Intrator, 2006) is usually attributed to CTs (Clarke & Jarvis-Selinger, 2005), the USs also showed support, which reassured the PTs about their classroom activity. The USs did so by allowing the PTs to ﬁnd elements that justiﬁed their teaching activity and also consolidated and broadened the meaning of the rules followed by the CTs. Like the CTs, the USs subtly reinforced the PTs’ conﬁdence and thus contributed to their professional development.
5.2. Insufﬁcient impact on PTs’ training The efﬁcacy of this type of training program merits discussion. The results showed insufﬁciencies in the CTs’ and USs’ training actions regarding the meaning that PTs ﬁnally constructed of their own professional experiences using the stated rules. In contrast to interpretations advanced by certain studies, the principal limitation observed in this study had less to do with the compassionate (Bullough & Draper, 2004), prescriptive (Bullough, 2005), theoretical and abstract (Darling Hammond, 2006) character of the stated rules than to the relatively poor development of the circumstances in which they could be followed. These were exactly the circumstances neglected by the CTs and USs. Although the CTs and USs validated the rules, those broached and/or followed by the PTs to give meaning to their experience and/or to anticipate the work to come were given little attention in terms of the classroom circumstances to which they could be extended. They were thus perceived by the PTs as potentially useful only in extremely singular situations. Despite the PTs’ insistence, they found it difﬁcult to learn from the USs about the situations in which the rules could be followed, not followed, or followed only with careful attention. This was particularly striking because some of the stated rules that appeared detailed and standardized were considered by the PTs as rarely useful, not only to ‘‘conduct the class’’ but also to ‘‘think about’’ it or give it meaning. Certain statements of rules even caused greater uncertainty and ‘‘disturbances’’, rather than removing ambiguity and resolving circumstance-related work problems. They in fact signaled to the PTs their inability to make use of them ‘‘to conduct class’’ and augmented their dissatisfaction with their own work to date. This ﬁnding suggests several interpretations. The most important concerns how the working modalities of the PT–CT–US triad can be reoriented toward the construction of a ‘‘community of practice’’ (Wenger, 1998). The training given by CTs and USs seems to be effective only when it provides PTs with diverse examples of how the stated rules are followed and the circumstances in which this occurs. The activity of CTs and USs should permit PTs to give meaning to, interpret and adapt to the singularity of their classroom and/or training experiences. It should not be limited only to the ostensive teaching of the rules. Although certainly fundamental, the activity of ostensive deﬁnition of the meaning of professional experience requires CTs and USs to then engage in an activity of explanation or ‘‘guided reﬂection’’ (Husu, Toom, & Patrikainen, 2008), so that PTs can ultimately use the rules. In this way, the CTs and USs can truly respond to the PTs’ questions by showing and/or describing examples and thereby multiplying the circumstances associated with the rules. The PTs’ lack of understanding or misunderstandings is thus gradually addressed, and they are better equipped to follow the rules on their own and in acceptable fashion in classroom situations.
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5.3. Perspectives to optimize this type of training program Last, it is important to keep a balanced perspective on the limitations of training that offers multiple brief alternations between ‘‘condensed’’ and autonomous classroom work and training sequences to prepare for it. This study, like others (Bertone, Chalie`s, Clarke, & Me´ard, 2006), showed that following rules to give meaning to their experience and to analyze and judge their work in training situations was not enough to ensure that PTs could ‘‘do the work’’ in the classroom in conformity with these same rules, even when they had been validated by the CTs and USs in training. It does, however, offer possibilities for reorganizing alternating programs in order to overcome this difﬁculty and achieve an effective ‘‘community of practice’’ for PTs, CTs and USs (Sim, 2006). CTs’ and USs’ activity needs to be conceived of not only in terms of teaching, but also in terms of explanations given from the very beginning of training in order to broaden for PTs the possibilities for following learned rules in a variety of classroom circumstances. By highlighting the importance of CTs’ and USs’ understanding of PTs’ circumstances in classroom situations, this study ultimately points to the need for situations of training and work to become more closely linked (Korthagen et al., 2006; Rhine & Bryant, 2007), for bridges to be built between the university and schools. More broadly, this study joins with others in suggesting the need to shift the focus of teacher training (Zeichner, 2006). A true ‘‘community of learning within a community of practice’’ (Sim, 2006) can only be constructed once the traditional institutional barriers (Furlong et al., 1996) have been brought down. The data presented here provide indications for moving toward a better articulation of USs’ and CTs’ respective training sequences. Speciﬁcally, a closer articulation would ultimately help PTs to follow the rules learned in the classroom and/or training in far more extensive circumstances, thereby achieving a broader understanding of the meaning they initially constructed. This conception of articulated training sequences implies speciﬁc responsibilities for each type of trainer. The USs would teach and explain the professional rules to the PTs in order to develop their capacities to interpret and understand their classroom experience. In parallel, the CTs would propose to the PTs classroom circumstances that have a ‘‘family resemblance’’ (Wittgenstein, 1996) to those identiﬁed and shown ostensively during the teaching of these rules. This would encourage the PTs to extend the use of the rules while the CTs accompany them in their professional development. References Beck, C., & Kosnik, C. (2000). Associate teachers in pre-service education: clarifying and enhancing their roles. Journal of Education for Teaching, 26(3), 208–224. Bertone, S., Chalie`s, S., Clarke, A., & Me´ard, J. A. (2006). The dynamics of interaction during post-lesson conferences and the development of professional activity: study of a preservice physical education teacher and her cooperating teacher. Asian Paciﬁc Journal of Teacher Education, 34(2), 245–264. Borko, H., Jacobs, J., Eiteljorg, E., & Pittman, M. E. (2008). Video as a tool for fostering productive discussions in mathematics professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(2), 417–436. Bullough, R. V. (2005). Being and becoming a mentor: school-based teacher educators and teacher educator identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 143–155. Bullough, R. V., & Draper, R. J. (2004). Making sense of a failed triad: mentors, university supervisors and positioning theory. Journal of Teacher Education, 55(5), 407–420. Bullough, J., Young, J., Birrell, J., Clark, C., Winston Egan, M., Erickson, L., et al. (2003). Teaching with a peer: a comparison of two models of student teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(1), 57–73. Burbank, M. D., & Kauchak, D. (2003). An alternative model for professional development: investigations into effective collaboration. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(5), 499–514. Chalie`s, S., Bertone, S., Flavier, E., & Durand, M. (2008). Effects of collaborative mentoring on the articulation of training and classroom situations: a case study in the French school system. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(3), 550–563.
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