There has long been a need for a National Teacher Education and Teacher Educator Forum in Ireland to support the professional development of teacher educators and to contribute to the development of the continuum of teacher education in Ireland.
Professional connections made through involvement in e-InFo-TED (https://info-ted.eu/), as well as the opportunity to avail of Erasmus funding for reciprocal visits between two institutes, encouraged the University of Limerick (UL) to approach colleagues at the MOFET Institute to visit their organization in May 2017 and invite MOFET colleagues to present their work and institute infrastructure to teacher educators in Ireland in November 2017. The November 2017 meeting (held at UL) provided impetus to hold the inaugural meeting of the National Teacher Education and Teacher Educator Forum (denoted as ‘Forum’ from this point forward). From that meeting, attendees conveyed (i) a clear interest in an inclusive networking space, (ii) a need for a collective voice and collective consideration of the teacher education continuum to inform teacher education, (iii) an acknowledgement of the necessity for resource pooling and institutional support, and (iv) the centrality of pre-service teachers and school placement. There was support for the notion that working as a collective and collaborative group could possibly establish a platform for teacher education that would inform both current and future teacher education policies.
Workings of the Forum:
I, and two colleagues Dr. Melanie Ni Dhuinn (Trinity College Dublin) and Dr Rose Dolan (Maynooth University), are currently responsible for the facilitation of the Forum. It was agreed that the Forum will hold biannual seminars, in October / November and March / April. Each seminar lasts for one day and hosting of the seminar rotates around all interested institutes. The purpose of the seminar is to:
- discuss issues and developments in Teacher Education and, resulting from those discussions, to formulate position/discussion papers that can contribute to teacher education in Ireland.
- engage in professional development activities for teacher educators across the continuum.
Two special interest groups (SIGs) – (1) School placement in ITE and (2) Criteria for accreditation of ITE programmes – have led the discussions at the April 2018 and October 2018 seminars. SIGs are small groups of teacher educators who have an interest in a specific area of teacher education. A third SIG – Teacher education and teacher educator identity – was proposed at the October 2018 seminar.
The Forum has 140 teacher educators on a Forum mailing list, capturing the names of those who have attended at least one of the three seminars to date.
Positioning the Forum:
The Forum is gaining momentum in being approached to provide a teacher educator perspective.
In April 2018, a joint higher education institution position paper exploring school placement challenges was submitted to the Teaching Council. The paper was prepared by colleagues from Dublin City University, Marino Institute of Education, Mary Immaculate College, Maynooth University, Froebel Maynooth University, National College of Art and Design, NUI Galway, St Angela’s NUI Galway and University of Limerick.
In November 2018 the Forum furnished a report in response to a request to attend the Teaching Council and provide a teacher education perspective on issues that were being considered for the future reconfiguration of teacher education programmes, i.e., (i) school placement, (ii) ITE programme structure / mandatory areas, and (iii) research and portfolios.
In November 2018 the Forum were invited by the ICT Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills to propose three/four members who would meet with the Implementation Advisory Group sub-group with a view to setting up a working group to examine and progress the Digital Strategy for Schools. A key objective of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 is to embed digital technologies across the continuum of teacher education, i.e., Initial Teacher Education, Induction and Continuous Professional Development. A key action in this regard is to co-operate with Initial Teacher Education Providers to ensure that pre-service teachers acquire the skills, knowledge and confidence to use digital technologies to support teaching and learning in their classroom practice.
The next Forum meeting will take place in NUI Galway on Monday 1 April 2019 and details of the event and registration for the event can be accessed Here
Please do not hesitate to contact me at Ann.MacPhail@ul.ie if you wish further information regarding the Forum.
Ann MacPhail is Professor in Physical Education at the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick. Her current research interests include teacher education, young people in sport, curriculum development in physical education, teaching, learning and assessment issues within school physical education. You can contact Professor MacPhail via email as per above or view her research profile on Researchgate