Developing the policy of teaching practice in teacher education at the national level

Teibi Torm, Erika Löfström, Eve Eisenschmidt, Karmen Paul

Abstract


For some time, researchers have identified the weak connection between theory and practice as one of the basic problems in teacher preparation programmes. Nowadays, the formation of future teachers’ professional identity is highlighted as an important aspect in initial teacher education. This means that student teachers should have a chance to gain experience connected to teaching, to develop their ability to learn from challenging situations and to develop the ability to plan, reflect and create meaning in their role as a teacher.

The need to improve the quality of teaching practice in initial teacher education has been raised in the Estonian Teacher Education Strategy 2009-2013. The strategy emphasises that teaching practice is an important component in achieving professional tenure and development of professional identity. During teaching practice, theoretical knowledge becomes meaningful in practical situations and the student teachers are able to improve their skills. Therefore, initial teacher education provider, together with the school, should create opportunities for effective learning in the working environment for student teachers.

The aim of this paper is to develop suggestions for institutional and national policy for enhancing the integration of theory and practice in teacher preparation programmes. To achieve this goal, we provide an overview of the practice systems in six Estonian higher education institutions. We analyse the documents, which regulate student teachers’ teaching practice at strategic and national level. The goals of pedagogical practice mainly focus on the need for applying knowledge and skills to gather teaching experience; there is less focus on student teachers’ personal working theory. Strategic documents highlight the importance of integration of student teachers’ practice in the whole school as an organisation but this idea is not supported by the policies. Solutions are suggested for institutional and national policy development.

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Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082