Pedagogy in Further Education and Vocational Teacher Education

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Developing learning communities of reflective practitioners

Cochran Smith (2003 and 2021); Dinkelman et al., (2006); Korthagen (2006) and Korthagen (2011) argue that strategies focussing around the creation, maintenance and development of learning communities of teachers as individuals and groups are helpful for teacher learning. Korthagen et al. (2006) found that ‘meaningful collaboration’ (ibid: 1027) could help students to learn about the complexities of teaching through experience. They also found that peer support, sharing responsibility for learning and the joint development of collaborative learning experiences for and with trainees all helped trainees to ‘recognize and respond to the competing demands in their learning’, and to ‘learn in meaningful ways through experience’ (ibid: 1027). This shared responsibility ‘for professional learning’ (ibid: 1034) is argued to be a particularly effective process for recognising and understanding the modelling and ‘golden moments’ discussed in theme 3. Korthagen et al. (2006) also found this application of pedagogy could assist teachers to reduce the isolation which some of the deprofessionalising forces in the workplace could introduce.

Davey (2013); Kitchen (2005a and b); Ritter (2007) found that working in a collaborative community with teachers was an important way of enhancing empathy and respect; personal practical knowledge, understanding of the teaching landscape; the capacity to solve problems, and a growth in relationship building skills. This facilitated a productive interaction between teacher educators and the teachers concerned, and promoted the same type of relationship both between teachers, and between the teachers and their pupils or students.

Cochran-Smith (2021: 11) proposes a new approach to collaborative learning communities called “intelligent professional responsibility.” She explains this as follows: “The notion of intelligent professional responsibility turns the dominant approach to teacher education accountability on its head by braiding together three ideas, the first of which is overarching – intelligent accountability, evaluation based on inclusion and dialogue, and a supportive relationship between external and internal accountability. Woven together, these three ideas suggest new possibilities” (ibid: 12).