Professional identity is part of a self- identity and presents an answer to the question "who am I, or what am I as a professional". Various factors contribute to the construction of professional identity of teachers and teacher educators, including the context of teaching, the experiences as a teacher and the personal biography (Beijaard, Verlop & Vermunt, 2000). The presentation focuses on the relations between the processes of constructing professional identity in teaching and the processes that characterize a changing reality, in an era of crisis and educational changes. Teacher education institutions and schools are continuously challenged by reforms and educational changes which are aimed at improving teaching quality and at elevating the social status of the teaching profession. Four studies that have been carried out through a research network at the Mofet Institute serve as the database for this presentation. The analysis looks at these studies from the perspective of constructing professional identity in teaching, and examines the interrelations between these processes and the advancement or hindrance of the implementation of changes and reforms in education. The model of Marcia regarding adolescents' personal styles in the construction of self identity (1980, 2008) has advised our interpretations of the interrelations between processes of constructing professional identity and the demands of educational changes. We have identifies four tensions that teachers face in periods of a changing reality: (1) knowing vs. continuing to learn (2) educating vs. teaching a content area (3) taking part in a democratic-participatory discourse vs. hierarchical-managerial discourse (4) a culture of control vs. a culture of empowerment. Reforms and changes can create a sense of ambiguity and self-doubt but they can also enhance growth via the development of quality sources that promote collaborative re-examination of issues involved in the construction of professional identity that is being challenged by external reforms. We propose the concept of "inquiry dialogue", which scrutinizes the complexity inherent in teaching and facilitates the creation of "professional identity in motion" – an identity that is aware of its complexities and continues to grow. Policy makers in education should base any proposed changes on processes that engage teachers and teacher educators as their professional identity plays a vital role in the implementation of any educational change.
The concept of excellence has intrigued philosophers for millennia and is often associated with an individual’s character. For instance, in the continuing quest to understand ‘good’ teachers, Hare (1993) argued that multiple ‘excellences’ such as empathy, humility, and open-mindedness are necessary to becoming a good teacher. Jackson noted that although agreement on criteria for good teachers has remained elusive, “it is likely that in every school system there could be found at least a handful of teachers who would be called outstanding by almost any standard” (1968/1990, p. 115). Since then, researchers have found exemplary teachers at all levels (e.g., Van Schaack & Glick, 1982) and in all kinds of schools—from well-to-do schools to “the most out-of-the-way schools in the most impoverished areas” (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009, p. 87; Collinson, 2010).
But whatever term is used to describe these teachers—whether it’s outstanding, excellent, or accomplished—does not mean that they represent perfection, but rather that they can serve as an example from which others can learn (Berliner, 1986). Understanding exemplary teachers represents a way “to inform the present, to underline what we must attend to, and to help in locating what obstructs the realization of the ideal…The informing of the real by the ideal focuses the work to be done to lessen the distance between the two” (Cuffaro, 1995, p. 100).
I want to be clear that I am making a distinction between ‘teacher’ and ‘teaching’ although they are often used almost interchangeably. In this keynote, I am focusing on the ‘teacher’ as a person rather than on ‘teaching’ as an activity or as techniques. Both are necessary but my emphasis on the person is the reverse of what usually occurs in practice (e.g., Kelchtermans, 2009; Malm, 2009).
Essentially, I will argue that for everyone, being a learner is a requisite for becoming a good teacher, and that in the 21st century, being an avid learner and a good teacher are requisites for becoming good leaders. In education, I see career-long professional development as both professional and personal development, both formal and informal learning. I do not see professional development for teachers and leaders as a new or different kind of learning, but rather as a life-long extension of development begun in primary and secondary schools. I will argue that what exemplary teachers try to develop or refine in themselves and in their students may provide a sound blueprint for the development of teachers, teacher leaders, and formal school leaders (school principals or heads).The body of the paper is organized in three sections:
So what if there is now a grounded theory of ‘exemplary teacher’? A theory is neither right nor wrong; it is simply a way of organizing existing information to make sense of a perplexing phenomenon (Wilson, 2007). But “without a good theory, all you can do is acquire techniques—surface manifestations of the underlying” thinking (Fullan, 2008, p. 16). Until recently, teacher preparation and continuing professional development seem to have done just that: focusing on teaching as techniques instead of on the holistic development of the teacher as a person.
Human beings around the world live in widely diverse settings, yet the human condition binds us together. We share the same needs to survive and fulfill aspirations; we share the same emotions and the same desire to communicate and socialize with others; we share attitudes like curiosity and hope. And regardless of our circumstances and where we live, we all learn and we all teach and lead throughout our lives, whether that occurs within a family circle or in more formal settings. What the exemplary teachers consider the ideal for all students is almost a mirror image of what scholars referred to as ‘the four pillars of education’ in the well-known United Nations document on learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be (Delors et al., 1996).
However, the exemplary teachers started with the question ‘Who do I want to be as a role model for students?’ and then set out to try to become that person, constantly refining their knowledge, skills, and attitudes in a lifelong pursuit to narrow the gap between the real and the ideal. Those who decided to become a teacher thanks to a beloved role model had the advantage of retrospective and prospective thinking of the person they wanted to be years before their formal teacher education began. Those with prior non-school careers had years of learning-by-doing as learners, teachers, and leaders before their formal teacher preparation began. But regardless of the pathway to becoming a teacher, self-knowledge appears to be of major importance to understanding “who I am in how I teach” (Kelchtermans, 2009, p. 259; also Lipka & Brinthaupt, 1999).
The exemplary teachers also believe that knowing students is vital (see Schein, 2009). It seems logical that teacher educators would need to have deep knowledge of teacher students to provide differentiated opportunities for development in a continuation of holistic development begun by primary and secondary school teachers. And we can only imagine what career-long professional development might look like if it emphasized what these exemplary teachers strive to do: keeping an unwavering focus on improving learning, creating opportunities for inquiry into relevant issues, providing for extensive practice in communication, taking time to make interdisciplinary connections, modeling how to give and receive helpful feedback, and creating opportunities for students to develop collaborative leadership skills.
We might question policy decisions as well. For instance, given that exemplary leaders look remarkably similar to ‘exemplary followers’ (Kelley, 1992) and good principals look remarkably similar to good teachers (Day & Leithwood, 2007; Rosenholtz, 1989), why would we not insist on selecting as principals only those who are continuous learners and exemplary teachers? And if 21st-century leadership involves communal relationships and networks in which leaders and followers regularly switch places as they share ideas and model changes (e.g., Rost, 1991; Foster, 1989; Weick & Quinn, 1999), then surely we would select as principals those who had demonstrated such predispositions. These and many other questions still need to be examined, but perhaps learning from exemplary teachers can help us rethink selection and development of teachers and leaders and find ways to narrow the distance between the real and ideal.
It is true that public interest in the profession of teachers has considerably grown ever since after TIMMS and PISA, the international tests of school efficiency, were published. Thus, the debate concentrated more and more on those whose work is crucial for an efficient performance of school education. Teachers are expected to combine many personalities at the same time, as for example: being advocates, advisers, therapists, hosts, organizers, initiators, or entertainers. This list could easily be enlarged. However, any experienced educationalist will know that the accumulation of too many tasks does not work. As attractive a vision of a social and political omnipotent role of a teacher may be, it will soon turn out to be merely a Fata Morgana that can never be realised, but which will rather trigger off a chain reaction of frustration.
We had to learn from educational practice at schools that families nowadays are more influenced by social change that they used to be. Because this is so, teachers have to take over educational tasks, which families no longer feel to be responsible for, or, for that matter, can no longer cope. The natural or inborn obligation to be responsible for their children’s education is slowly shifting towards the responsibility of teachers. This development implies that the teacher education and training system will necessarily be obliged to discuss these problems and to prepare teachers students adequately. A debate of pedagogical solutions seems to be urgent in the face of these questions. But although these thoughts may well be convincing and true, one still has to be cautious because, obviously, schools and teachers are confronted with an increasing number of duties generated by society, which teachers then are expected to fulfil. Or – to phrase it differently – schools are quite often understood to be a kind of repair shops for a great number of social deficits and ruptures. However, this caricature should not lead to the misunderstanding that a teacher’s job should consist of nothing more than merely rejecting demands targeted at altering his or her professional obligations. The mandate to provide predominantly educational teaching units has been and will be eternally valid. Nowadays the raison d’être of this assignment is even more varied than before, and the approaches are more individualized than they used to be: “We have to cope with our students’ actual problems in life before we can offer solutions to their problems of learning”.
For many years it had been common practice to improve educational professionalism by employing strategies to heighten scientific input. Admittedly, good progress was made on this way to attain deep subject related knowledge. At present, the debate is being pursued in a context of differentiated reflections on “quality in schools” taking place in various fields of conduct. However, since a school system – generally speaking - cannot be better than the teachers who are involved in it, under the heading of “development of manpower” questions of teachers’ authority are, at present, equally investigated. Indeed, it is in this area that we find momentous deficits of teacher education models which being insufficiently conceptualized. There is still no process of verification of the quality of academic results of what has been learned in the context of good teaching practice. Or, to put it differently, there does not exist a clear distinction yet between a job profile and a job career. The concept of a teacher’s profile has to begin first with taking into account the conditions of a school’s cultural and educational environment.
Educational professionalism will be understood, more often than not, as being located between concepts like being useful for everything and a sophisticated mellowness. This, however, is merely a functional view. The development of an educational professionalism will doubtlessly have to be initiated right at the beginning of teacher education and training. Its foundation is constituted by an academic study of educational theory and practice including subject oriented study courses, as well as special didactics, educational pedagogic and educational psychology. During their educational studies teacher students will be offered the opportunity to develop and train their didactic skills when, for example, giving a paper on research results, which were presented in study courses. Not only will they learn to focus them according to their academic significance, but they will also apprehend how to do their own investigations. In the end, these are the didactic skills, which also guide the learning process at school. Teachers, who never developed their own investigative skills, will find it hard to arouse their students’ interest for intellectual discoveries and research. They also ought to have experienced themselves where the transition line between learning and investigating is, and they ought to have gone all the way from novice to educational expert. Having aquired a kind of “implicit knowledge” concerning context and sequence they will be expected with good reason to differentiate between significant or insignificant questions when problems occur in school teaching.
Professionalism points at a concept that implies an overall responsibility, which means that the sum of its parts does not encompass the sum total. The sum total, in its turn, will only become evident in its situational interaction. Essentially, we are talking of five criteria, which, in their collaborative action and personal interaction, may lead towards a new profile of teacher education and training: Professionalism, Life-long Learning, Responsibility, Co-operation, Flexibility.
“Practice in Teacher Education: Preparing Teachers for Work and Life in an Educational Community” being part of the 36th Annual Conference of ATEE will be asked to discuss and debate the results and consequences of the above mentioned topics, to come to terms with their inherent practical acting possibilities and to assign significance to a leading model of teacher education in the countries of Europe.
This keynote is based on the survey of the methodologies and impact of the global university rankings which author has carried out for the European University Association and which was published in June, 2011.
In recent years university rankings have become increasingly important worldwide; the number of global rankings has grown during the period of this review and it is predicted that the number of global rankings will keep growing. School teachers , especially those who teach at upper secondary level, should be aware of university rankings as schoolsalso provide guidance and counselling to their students when the latter make their choice of appropriate higher education institutions. Almost every university ranking claims that it is useful for potential students. It is partly true but, as the criticisms of rankings demonstrate, it is important to be well aware about the nuances of the methodologies of each ranking to be sure what is being measured, and what the ranking scores actually mean.
Methodologies and impact of the global university rankings were analysed in a survey commissioned by the European University Association.
The issue of rankings has always been controversial. Society may like to have a league table that allows one to see who is the ‘best in the world’ (and who is not). Politicians like to be presented with information in a business-like manner – and rankings do just that. In times of significant financial constraints, policy makers in different countries are increasingly interested in comparisons of the performance of various higher education institutions (HEIs) according to objective indicators. However, the results of any ranking, but especially those of the global league tables, depend strongly on the choice of indicators and weights assigned to them.
Ranking elite universities, the global league tables actually concern some 2% of world’s top universities only as they use methodologies that simply cannot produce stable results for more than 700-1200 universities.
Most popular global rankings use composite scores but in all cases where a composite score is calculated, ranking providers assign weights to each indicator in the overall score and that means that the ranking provider’s subjective judgement determines which indicators are more important. Overall, global university rankings reflect university research performance substantially better than teaching – the existing indicators on teaching are all proxies and their link to the quality of teaching is at the best indirect.
Regarding research performance, natural sciences and medicine are favoured by all rankings based on bibliometric indicators. At the same time, various areas have different publication and citation cultures - there are more publications and more citations per publication in natural sciences and especially in medicine.
In this managerial and competitive world, every higher education institution needs to demonstrate its excellence in one way or another. However, due to the methodologies used by the global rankings, teacher training institutions like thousands of “normal” universities are not likely to appear in their top lists. New tools are currently being developed that will allow comparing higher education institutions but respecting their diversity. The EU U-map classification tool of higher education institutions has been developed an piloted by the end of 2010 and has now collecting data from institutions. EU U-multirank which will rank higher education institutions using a great number of indicators and should allow comparison of HEIs indicator by indicator without compiling a single league table – at least according of what was stated when starting this project. The third new activity is supposed to be the Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO) which is developed in a world wide project by OECD and which should allow to compare the actual outcomes of student learning.
Plenary reports will be followed by con-current reports to go deeper and introduce unattended in the key-note reports problems of teachers’ lifecycle.