Learning to be a teacher in online only environments – Dr Antonio Calderón.

Recently, together with my colleagues Dr Mary Masterson and Ebru Boynuegri, we have presented at ESAI conference, some findings from the study where we explore teacher educators and student teacher experiences on online teaching and learning experiences. 

This is a project which has been funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the Higher Education Authority in the last call of the Strategic Alignment for Teaching and Learning (SATLE) 2020.

This work is one of the hundreds that was prompted by the global pandemic back in 2020, when we all had to rapidly move to an emergency online teaching. Our campuses, our supporting structures, our committees, our service, everything, shifted to a fully online version. Suddenly, everything we did as teacher educators (and our students as student-teachers) started to happen at home, and it is in that context, where we questioned the notion of teaching effectiveness, from a doble perspective: our own teaching effectiveness in that online environment, and our student-teachers teaching effectiveness, mainly as part of their school placement experience.

To look at this conception of teaching effectiveness, we used the framework proposed back in 1983 by Zeichner and that was updated more recently by Winch and colleagues. They defined teacher professional knowledge by the integration of three main types of knowledge, each of them aligned with one paradigm of teacher education. The first one is situated, and it is mainly acquired by a process of apprenticeship where experienced teachers transmit the knowledge to the novice. This is the type of knowledge aligned with the traditional or craft paradigm of teacher education. The second, is the technical knowledge which is aligned with a more behavioristic teacher education that has their foundations on a positivistic epistemology and emphasizes the development of specific and measurable skills of teaching, which are assumed to be related to student learning. The final one is the critical knowledge which is that one that produces teachers who are critically aware of the complexities of the educational process and are also aware of the problems associated with power, equity and social justice.

Looking at our findings, it was clear that the online only experience increased student-teachers technical knowledge. They achieved a high content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and curriculum knowledge (so very technical teachers). It seems that in general, the focus of our online teaching was strongly based on this technical conception of teaching (which is only normal given the emergency situation that we all as teacher educators were dealing with). Now with more time, and not conditioned by the unprecedented situation, we suggest that discussions related the theoretical underpinnings of what we do as teacher educators and how we teach (online or hybrid or in person) should be discussed at the programme level. Our suggestion would be to structure the programme based on a blending of paradigms, with opportunities for our student-teachers to learn the more technical aspects, but also, for critical-reflection, observation, and practice of professional judgement to build from that technical version of teachers to a more holistic one. Thank you!

If you are interested, you can see the slides we used here.

This paper might be useful as well.

Dr. Antonio Calderón is a Senior Lecturer and the Course Director of the Professional Master of Education (Physical Education) in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, UL. 

Contact: Antonio.calderon@ul.ie, @acalderon_pe, Researchgate, Google Scholar


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