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Owning the thinking: case studies of how pre-service trainee teachers, training to teach in the post-compulsory sector, construct their professional teaching identities within a framework of accountability

Butcher, Valerie Ann (2013) Owning the thinking: case studies of how pre-service trainee teachers, training to teach in the post-compulsory sector, construct their professional teaching identities within a framework of accountability. Doctoral thesis (EdD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The context for this study is that of educational policy: specifically with reference to initial teacher education in the post-compulsory sector. The research addresses a number of issues which have been relatively neglected in implementing this policy: • The extent to which the policy has redefined the epistemology underpinning being a teacher to that of ‘knowledge deliverer’ • The ways in which this epistemological shift has impacted on the role and identities of beginning teachers as individual teachers seek to resolve the relationship between the policy agenda and their constructions of their professional selves as compatible, compromising and/or compliant The methodology adopted is that of the case study within a longitudinal study of those being trained to teach in the post compulsory sector and follows the subjects of the research post-training into employment. Using trainee accounts and other data, the study examines their encounters with and connections to (Wenger, 2000:27) the various ‘learning communities’ contributing to their training. The narratives they provide are used to provide an ‘…insider’s view of the domain’ of a community (Wenger et al., 2002: 31). The findings are substantial. Analysis of trainees’ accounts reveal the extent to which they seek to adhere to community norms as a consequence of assessment and organisational demands at the expense of their own development as critical, autonomous professionals. The extent to which they supress aspects of their own emerging identities raises ethical issues about the role of professional communities in brokering and developing new professional knowledge. The ways in which the various ‘learning communities’ manage knowledge leads to discrepancies in trainees’ experiences of ‘communities of practice’. As a consequence they offer fractured accounts of their teaching identities. The implications of the research are also substantial. The study underlines the importance of giving greater attention to the voice of the trainee teacher in order to understand and assist ‘self- understanding’ (Kelchtermans, 2005). The voice of trainee teacher has been noticeably marginalised by current policies on teacher education. As new models of partnership and collaborative practice evolve in response to an agenda which prioritises school and employer led ITTE provision, it behoves those working with newly qualified teachers to provide the kind of support which will ensure commitment and the basis for future advance in their teaching careers.

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