I am coming to the end of my first year of an Msc in Teacher Education. For our most recent assignment, we were asked to reflect on our principles. Five years ago, I was asked to write my principles of practice (educational philosophy) for a job application. I wrote this educational philosophy as a computer science teacher and head of department, but I have never written principles for teacher education. I have tried to list those most important to me below:
1. Develop meaningful relationships built on sensitivity, trust, honesty and multiple perspectives.
2. Modelling needs to take place in all interactions with teachers – from the way we speak, the way we address teachers to the way we instruct. Teachers also need to practice modelling before attempting procedures and techniques with their pupils.
3. There will be many occasions where we need to think aloud to make our tacit knowledge explicit and also to provide a rationale for what we are doing, how we are doing something and importantly why we are doing something.
4. Feedback should be concrete and actionable. When providing lesson feedback, consider the feedback with the maximum leverage for the teacher at that moment in time.
5. Accept that contexts and individuals differ and therefore, there are many ways to address a problem.
6. Research and evidence should inform educators’ work and therefore also inform a teachers’ work.
7. Be mindful of workload. If we cannot put ourself in a teacher’s position and realistically do what we are asking them to do, then there may be a workload issue.
8. Make these principles explicit and encourage teachers to write their own principles and to also share these with their peers and students (where appropriate).
Our principles guide everything that we do as teachers and teacher educators. By making these explicit, we understand ourselves and help our learner teachers understand our rationale. I believe this could be a useful exercise for all teachers. You could share these in your team to identify conflicting or competing principles that you hold and discuss why you think principles are important. What principles resonate with your own beliefs about teaching and teacher education?
• Korthagen, F., Loughran, J. and Russell, T. (2006) Developing fundamental principles for teacher education programs and practices, Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(8), 1020-1041
• Loughran, J. (2006) Developing a Pedagogy of Teacher Education: Understanding teaching and learning about teaching, Routledge: Abingdon (Chapter 6, Principles of practice)
• Crowe, A.R. and Berry, A. (2007) Teaching prospective teachers about learning to think like a teacher: Articulating out principles of practice, in T. Russell and J. Loughan (eds.) Enacting a Pedagogy of Teacher Education: Values, relationships and practices, Routledge: Abingdon