Tag Archives: teacher education

ATEA 2016 – What are beginning teachers looking for online?

A presentation from the Australian Teacher Education Association (Kelly & Kickbusch, 2016) about work we’ve been doing on online teacher support. In particular there is a useful reference list contained in the presentation of recent research from Australia in online teacher support.

What are beginning teachers looking for online? The TeachConnect story (and what can be learnt from it).

TeachConnect is a platform to support pre-service secondary maths and science teachers through their professional experience and into the profession. It has been developed over four years as a design-based research project and now has over 500 users across Queensland.

This presentation aims to share everything that we have discovered during this journey. It contributes a discussion of :

– The unrealised potential for online support for pre-service and early career teachers (to augment rather than replace existing support).

– The design principles for online communities of teachers that have been developed through analysis of existing platforms and multiple iterations of TeachConnect development with input from participants.

– The design of the engagement strategy for involving all stakeholders within the state education system, with a particular focus upon the development of the online group and peer mentoring program.

– Real-world impacts and discussion of future steps.

Finally, the presentation describes how the open-source platform could be used in other states. The work can be understood as a contribution to the vision of an online platform that is as useful as possible for pre-service and early career teachers. In summary, we believe this will continue to be achieved through: (i) widespread collaboration between universities, government and accreditation bodies; (ii) ongoing participant-led design and redesign; and (iii) convergence, for maximising benefits of a large community whilst retaining the benefits of enclosed spaces where deep reflection can occur.

  • Clarà, M., Kelly, N., Mauri, T., & Danaher, P. (2015). Can massive communities of teachers facilitate collaborative reflection? Fractal design as a possible answer. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 1-13.
  • Herrington, A., Herrington, J., Kervin, L., & Ferry, B. (2006). The design of an online community of practice for beginning teachers. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6(1), 120-132.
  • Kelly, N., & Antonio, A. (2016). Teacher peer support in social network sites. Teaching and Teacher Education, 56, 138-149.
  • Kelly, N., Clará, M., Kehrwald, B., & Danaher, P. (In press). Online Learning Networks for Pre-service and Early Career Teachers. UK: Palgrave Pivot.
  • Mansfield, C. F., Beltman, S., Broadley, T., & Weatherby-Fell, N. (2016). Building resilience in teacher education: An evidence informed framework. Teaching and Teacher Education, 54, 77-87.
  • Prestridge, S. (2016). Conceptualising self-generating online teacher professional development. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 1-20.
  • Redmond, P. (2015). Discipline specific online mentoring for secondary pre-service teachers. Computers & Education, 90, 95-104.
  • Sari, E., & Herrington, J. (2013). Using design-based research to investigate the design and development of an online community of practice for teacher professional development.

Teacher Peer Support in Social Networks

Interested in the ways that teachers support one another online in teacher social networks? A recently published paper by myself and Amy Antonio looks at open Facebook groups of teachers to examine the ways in which they support one another.

Some elements of this paper are discussed in another post about the limits and potential of online communities for teachers.

The paper has been published in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education and is titled teacher peer support in social networks (free link).

The crux of the paper is that six roles can be identified that experienced teachers take on to support other teachers online:

  1. Advocates the practical. Teachers help one another with day-to-day pragmatic aspects of the profession, such as finding resources for a lesson or navigating the bureaucracy.
  2. Conveners of relations. Teachers instigate relationships with other teachers, and can make introductions to other useful contacts.
  3. Agents of socialisation. Teaching as a profession has cultural norms. Experienced teachers induct other teachers into these norms, such as in the way that they share stories and the ‘memes’ that they promulgate.
  4. Modelers of practice. Teachers give a rich description of what they are doing in the classroom, providing a model of teaching practice.
  5. Supporters of reflection. Collaborative reflection is often considered the most important kind of knowledge for beginning teachers, to make sense of confusing situations and learn from their experiences.
  6. Providers of feedback. Teachers provide a constructive source of feedback, such as pedagogical and curriculum advice or in reconstructing an event that has occurred.

In a review of existing online communities, it appears that certain conditions are needed for teachers to be willing to engage in the most important of these roles: modelling practice, supporting reflection and providing feedback. Such a connection appears to have preconditions of a trusted environment with stable relationships and a sense of privacy

The logic for reaching these six categories comes from two places. The first is from Clarke et al. who identify eleven roles for co-operating teachers of which only six apply to the online context. Secondly, there is much in the literature on forms of social support onto which these six roles can be mapped:

  • Emotional support in the form of esteem, affect, trust, concern and listening
  • Appraisal support in the form of affirmation, feedback and social comparison
  • Informational support in the form of advice, suggestion, directives and information
  • Instrumental support in the form of aid in kind, money, labour and time.

The main contribution of the paper is to define these six roles for online teachers. The paper then uses these roles to analyse teachers interacting in social network groups (on Facebook).

The results show that teachers support each other in open groups of teacher social networks in very pragmatic ways – there is very little in the way of reflection upon practice or modelling of teaching occurring in these groups.

The citation for the paper is:

Kelly, N., & Antonio, A. (2016). Teacher peer support in social network sites. Teaching and Teacher Education, 56, 138-149. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2016.02.007