• Associate Teachers’ Learning Networks: A Figurational Analysis of Initial Teacher Education

      Jones, Luke; Tones, Steven; Foulkes, Gethin; University of Chester (Emerald, 2020-04-24)
      Purpose of this paper: The aim of this paper is to use the lens of figurational sociology to analyse the learning networks of physical education (PE) associate teachers (ATs) in England. More specifically, it aims to develop a more adequate understanding of who is involved in the learning networks and how they influence ATs during their one-year postgraduate initial teacher education (ITE) programme. Design/methodology/approach: A total of 35 ATs within a university ITE partnership took part in the study during the final phase of their postgraduate programme. Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were used to examine the nature and impact of the interdependent relationships that they had developed with other individuals and groups. A process of content analysis was used to identify and analyse patterns in the data. Findings: Mentors have the most influence over ATs. They support the inclusion of the ATs within the PE department, but elements of the mentors’ role are contradictory and can unintentionally hinder the ATs’ teaching. Mentors, teachers and tutors also share a common social habitus that ensures a degree of conformity within the PE community. New experiences tend to reinforce ATs’ existing beliefs about the nature and practice of teaching PE. Research limitations/implications (optional): Practical implications (optional): These findings have implications for providers of ITE in deciding who is involved in mentor training and how it is approached. If ATs are to be introduced to more innovative teaching approaches that promote change, then tutors need to collaborate with mentors and teachers to develop awareness of their often-unplanned influence. Social implications (optional): What is original/value of paper: Applying the distinctive, and more generally sociological, concepts that make up the figurational perspective helped to develop a more adequate understanding of the ATs’ learning networks. It provided an insight into the changing relationships that ATs have with their mentors and other individuals who work within the school and university context.
    • Bringing languages to life: a longitudinal study of the development of creative practice in student teachers of modern languages

      Hulse, Bethan; University of Chester (SAGE, 2017-12-29)
      This article reports the findings of a longitudinal study exploring the process of learning to teach modern languages in the changing landscape of teacher education. It employs a postmodern critical ethnographic methodology to examine the experiences of a group of student teachers over the course of a one-year postgraduate teacher education programme in England. The focus is on how experiences in university and in school encourage or discourage the development of creativity. The schools inspectorate, Ofsted, is critical of lifeless teaching which fails to inspire young people to learn languages. However, the pressures of ‘performative’ requirements act as a discouragement to creativity. The data indicates that whilst student teachers express a desire to be more creative, they find it difficult to implement their ideas in school. A post-structuralist analysis of Marx’s theory of alienation is employed to argue that the early formation of professional identity is a process of acquiescence to oppressive external structures over which individuals have no control. The study concludes that it is possible to create spaces where the temporary suspension of alienation can allow individuals to put life back into language learning.
    • Mentoring Associate Teachers in Initial Teacher Education: The Value of Dialogic Feedback

      Jones, Luke; Tones, Steven; Foulkes, Gethin; University of Chester (Emerald, 2018-06-04)
      Purpose - The aim of this paper is to analyse feedback in the context of secondary initial teacher education (ITE) in England. More specifically, it aims to examine the feedback experiences of physical education (PE) subject mentors and their associate teachers (ATs) during a one-year postgraduate programme. Design/methodology/approach – Semi-structured interviews, with nine PE mentors and eleven ATs within a university ITE partnership, were used to explore lesson feedback and the context in which it was provided. Interview data from the twenty participants was analysed through constant comparison to categorise content and identify patterns of responses. Findings - Mentors were well versed in the formal feedback mechanism of a written lesson observation. This approach is well established and accepted within ITE, but the dialogic feedback that follows lessons was thought to be where ATs made most progress. These learning conversations were seen to provide less formal but more authentic feedback for those learning to teach, and were most successful when founded on positive and collaborative relationships between the mentor and the ATs. Practical implications - These findings have implications for providers of teacher education and more specifically how they approach mentor training. The focus on lesson observations has value, but examining more informal dialogic approaches to feedback may have more impact on the learning of ATs. Originality/value - These findings support the value of lesson feedback but challenge the primacy of formal written lesson observations. The learning conversations that follow lessons are shown to provide authentic feedback for ATs.