Prof. Tom Russell (Queen's University, Canada)

Forty Years a Teacher Educator: Lessons Learned from Reflective Practice

My 40 years as a teacher educator have focused on how an individual learns to teach and learns to learn from experience. Donald Schön introduced the idea of the reflective practitioner early in my career, just as I was questioning seriously how what is learned in education courses interacts with what is learned from personal experience in practicum placements. Those trying to learn to teach have already learned a great deal about what teachers do by observing them for 12 years or more, but they have had no access to what it means to think like a teacher. 

As I try to introduce my students to reflective practice, I must be aware that they are regularly asked to reflect, yet no one seems to demonstrate how a teacher reflects in the actions of the classroom. Over 40 years in the culture of teacher education, I have witnessed a significant shift from the importance of teaching to the importance of research, yet there has been little attention to the complex processes of trying to change one’s beliefs and enact them in one’s teaching practices. For more than 20 years, the self-study of teacher education practices movement has helped me to develop and better understand my practices as a teacher educator. In this keynote address I will describe experiences of reflective practice that have generated valuable insights into the challenges we all face in re-thinking the professional education of teachers.


Prof. Aileen Kennedy (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Transformative professional learning in teacher education: what, why and how?

The idea of ‘transformative professional learning’ in teacher education is gaining currency across the globe, and has appeal to those who see teaching as an empowering and socially important activity. In many ways, it provides an alternative to the increasing creepage of neoliberal practices in both teacher education and in schooling in general. In some national contexts, the notion of transformative professional learning seems to co-exist with neoliberal policies in a complex and contradictory mix of policy ideologies. This presentation draws on my conceptual, empirical and development work to explore three main aspects relating to transformative professional learning in contemporary policy contexts:

  • What do we mean by the term ‘transformative professional learning’ in both initial and post-qualification phases?
  • Why would we want to support a transformative professional learning agenda, and what might the consequences be of such a move?
  • In what ways have/can/will transformative professional learning be embedded in initial and post-qualification learning, and what are the policy and practice considerations associated with this?

The presentation will offer a conceptual perspective on transformative professional learning which takes into account how transformative professional learning practices interact with particular local and national policy contexts. It will offer a contemporary example of our own attempts at the University of Edinburgh to introduce a new route to teaching, the MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching, and will reflect on the challenges and possibilities of engaging in professional/political work such as this.


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