Scientific journal
European Journal of Natural History
ISSN 2073-4972

TEACHING PRACTICE OF PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS IN THEIR PROFESSIONAL IDENTIFICATION

Lukina A.K. 1 Volkova M.A. 1
1 Siberian Federal University
This study considers key challenges of primary teacher`s training on bachelor level. We described innovative shapes of the future teacher`s training process for development of student`s self-determination, and enriching their personal experience. Since the first days of training practice is primary condition of becoming future teacher`s professional identity. We highlighted in particular the organization of teaching practice for the development of future teacher`s professional identity: 1) student`s collaboration (graduate and undergraduate students with collegians); 2) continuity throughout the semester; 3) including student teaching assignments in academic classes. Pre-service teacher`s professional identification is detailed and complicated as the complexity of the tasks of teaching practice. Our findings also confirm the value of primary teacher`s training that combines the educational and practical contexts, as this learning results in student`s integrations of theory and practice and reflections on professional identification.
teacher
pre-service teacher
practical training
professional identification professional self-determination
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The education reform in Russia calls for a new teacher – bearer of humanist values, master of state-of-the-art educational technologies. High heterogeneity of children’s community specific for the modern stage of social development involves teacher’s tolerance, capacity for recognition of child’s problems and search (creation) for adequate means of their resolution. [5]. In our opinion the role of primary school teacher is not only to create facilities for further development and achievement of personhood as an actor of educational activities [6, p. 276] but in the first place to emotionally develop, form positive self-attitude and self-appraisal, assertion, the skill to establish relations with equals in age. E. Erikson called this period “industriousness against the feeling of inferiority” [7, p. 362[.

Success of professional training of the would-be teachers is determined by informative choice of the future occupation, adequate understanding of the content of teaching activities, about personal qualities and professional competence they are to master. NA. Popovanova and M.A. Shadrina showed that significant component of professional competence of the would be teacher is the personal experience of a student which can be formed only by his/her involvement into real professional activities [4, p. 82–88].

The aim of this work is to define more exactly the effect of organization specifics of primary school teachers’ practical training on their professional identification.

Methods of research: questioning, semi-structured interviews, analysis of the products of educational and professional activity of students (diaries of educational practice, reflexive reports, creative presentations).

In the first days of academic studies in 2014 and 2015 students – would be teachers were questioned about their ideas about personal qualities important for teaching activities. In students’ opinion most important were: expertise, competence, tolerance, tactfulness, gentleness, organizational skills, authoritativeness, justice, humaneness, responsibility, decency. Except for the general humanistic image of a pedagogue students have not idea about the essence of the teaching activities, about requirements imposed by the pedagogical profession upon is bearer. This retards the development of adequate academic motivations of a student and his/her planning of his/her own professional development [3].

The means for a student to gain student individual experience may be implementation of bachelor’s applied programs aimed to involve students as early as possible into real teaching activities and create conditions to apprehend these activities. This approach makes possible to work with the student in his/her “zone of proximal development”. The experience of interaction with children and future colleagues, experience of teaching activities gained by the students provides linkage of theoretical academic training and real practice. Stage-by-stage nature and mutual involvement in educational process when an event is understood as an execution of completed stage of educational or practical activities makes possible to teach a student to comprehend his/her activities in actual practice [2, p. 56].

For the teaching practice of pre-service teachers to provide for generation of an adequate image of the profession, self-cognition and professional identity of the first-year students its organization should take into account their age peculiarities and specifics of their social background. In our opinion the teaching training practice is specified by three basic characteristics influencing the molding and development of professional identity of pre-service teachers:

1) continuity during the entire session;

2) cooperating with students of other years of training and other stages of education;

3) including teaching training tasks into the teaching branches of study.

First of all, the teaching practice should be continuing, i.e. to continue for the entire academic year. Continuity of teaching practice provides for the development of student’s ability to plan the event commonality with schoolchildren and teachers of the school, mold the feeling of responsibility, makes possible to see the fruit and results of their own activities.

This practice is specific for age and network nature. Students of different years of the bachelor’s and master’s programs, and students of teacher training college have teaching practice at the same time. Such an approach makes possible the following:

1) representativeness of different student ages and degrees of education;

2) self-study and peer coaching by mutually solving the tasks of the teaching practice, involvement in joint activities;

3) molding the capacity of joint teaching activities.

The third important feature of this practice is its organic integration into the entire system of student’s educational activities including the following elements: “classroom discipline” – “teaching practice” – “event” – “research” – “apprehension” – “statement of a question” – “classroom discipline”. Certain theoretical knowledge acquired in classroom lessons is appropriated by its verification in actual practice, its discovery and rediscovery in his/her own research activities. Therefore, within the framework of each school subject the students are assigned a task to be fulfilled during the practice reinforcing the acquired knowledge, mastering the application of the knowledge in a real teaching situation. The quality of fulfilled task and the education increment of the student is monitored by the teacher of the subject taught. Along with this execution of tasks in actual practice, involvement in organizing children’s vital activities at school poses new questions and problems the student is to answer in the course of theoretical studies.

The tasks of the teaching practice change with the age of the student. In the first term the main task is to – “get the feeling” of the child and student himself/herself in interaction with the child. This is performed by organizing schoolchildren’s free time, arranging active recess, assisting in preparation and holding out-of-class events, in doing homework. Fulfillment of most tasks of the teaching practice in a group makes possible to get “actively” acquainted with group mates and students of other degrees of education providing for onwards academic, professional and personal communication of better quality. The first active challenge of pedagogical reality provides the student opportunities to get rid of numerous illusions; to get the vision of school not from a student’s standpoint, but from the standpoint of a would-be teacher. This specifies his/her own ideas about the teacher’s work, about schoolchildren, about his/her own position in the high school reality.

After the first teaching practice session students of the first year 2014 specializing as “Primary education teacher” (Psychology and Pedagogics) were questioned. Their answers to the question about necessary actions of a primary school teacher have been processed by content analysis method and are presented in Table 1.

Table 1

Understanding of students – pre-service teachers – about necessary actions of primary school teachers after the first-term teaching practice

Number

Primary school teacher`s action

Quantity of students named this teacher`s action (2014 survey), %

1

Help a child to solve problems by himself/herself

48,4

2

Listen and hear

48,4

3

Respect the child`s opinion and personality

37,1

4

Reflection

37,1

5

disclose talents

35,5

6

Encourage , praise, support

32,3

7

Be an example , the authority

32,3

8

Understand and trust

29,0

9

Give the child an opportunity to find answers by himself/herself, to give freedom of choice to create situations with the right choice.

29,0

10

Motivate, inspire

29,0

11

To engage in dialogue, not to interrupt, ask the right questions

27,4

12

Analyze and teach it to children

24,2

13

Direct on the right path

24,2

14

Work on our mistakes and be able to eliminate them.

19,4

15

Share your experiences

19,4

On the basis of first year practice more than 80 % of students noted that they held out-of-class events, active recesses, psychological studies; 63 % – monitored activities of the teacher, children and their interaction; almost half of students helped fulfill homework during after-school groups, worked with documents, etc. So, the activities of students were fairly diverse and covered various components of teacher’s professional activities.

Despite this (as we can see from Table 1) the representation of the students about the activities of primary school teachers is humanistic and fragmented. Representations of students about his profession are still full of doubt. student position yet discipleship, not of teaching and professional (this is indicated by the phrase “reflection” and “analyze...”, “hear”, “understand”) The content of the teacher labor is poorly comprehended.

The task of the second-term practice is to understand a lesson and its external organization; to perform an actual action with a group of children in out-of-class space to harden a student in his pedagogical identity. This provides an idea about pedagogical cooperation and gives a new impetus to student’s personal work.

Answering the question about development of competencies in the course of teaching practice considerable part of students noted development of communicative, organizational skills, initiatives, self-consistency and stress resistance. A quarter of students noted that they are already capable of applying in actual practice the knowledge of psychology of personality, social psychology and theory of educational activities, i.e. from what they had learnt at classroom courses, and 12 % noted increased interest to further work with schoolchildren, to the teacher’s profession. The students also noted their better confidence, self-command, “agitation anxiety when communicating with the class has gone”, better attentiveness to children, to each child, 35 % knew more about the life of the class, 8 % noted that acquired knowledge necessary to arrange developing lessons.

There emerged new difficulties which the students did not notice during the practice, but noted them at the end of the academic year: aggressive behavior of the children, mostly boys, failure to handle this – this difficulty was noted by more than one third of the students. About twenty per cent of the students found it difficult to work with children for whom Russian is a non-mother tongue, recorded lack of their competencies in this sphere. This retarded record of difficulties is valuable and may be indicative of inner sophistication of a schoolchild’s image and the image of oneself as a person responsible for the changes in this schoolchild.

It is pleasant to note that considerable part of students became aware of the role of responsibility in teacher’s activities. They note that a teacher lays the foundation, basis for the achievement of personhood, that “the future of a child depends on the teacher”, that “primary school teacher the second mama”. During the second year of studies the number of students thinking that “the profession of a teacher is very responsible” increases, they find development of this quality in themselves. When the students questioned at the end of the 3rd term noted that the teaching practice helps them better understand the children, see vacancy in their knowledge and develop professionally significant qualities.

In the third term the tasks of the previous terms deepen, a student develops a project of his/her own lesson, and makes an attempt to conduct a lesson. The general aim of the teaching practice at this stage of students’ life is professional-pedagogical self-identification, making attempt to establish trust relations with a child in out-of-class activities, to observe teacher’s activities, making attempts to manage activities of a group of children.

After the third-term practice the same students were again questioned. Their answers to the question about necessary actions of a primary school teacher have been processed by content analysis method and are presented in Table 2.

Table 2

Understanding of students – pre-service teachers – about necessary actions of primary school teachers after the third-term teaching practice

Number

Primary school teacher`s action

Quantity of students named this teacher`s action (2016 survey), %

1

Organize (children, the atmosphere in the classroom, work and children’s activities, extracurricular activities, teacher’s work)

76,7

2

Give basic knowledge, teach children to learn

63,1

3

educate (impart moral and ethical standards, love of work, art, homeland)

45,3

4

Help a child to solve problems by himself/herself

27,3

5

Motivate, inspire

19,4

6

Give the child an opportunity to find answers by himself/herself, open methods of action.

18,6

7

Be an example, the authority

18,6

8

Respect the child`s opinion and personality

13,8

9

Finding the approach to every student

13,8

10

Guide, assist in the vital self-determination

13,8

11

Understand and trust

13,4

12

Share your experiences

13,2

13

disclose talents

9,7

14

Encourage, praise, support

9,7

15

Listen and hear

4,5

As can be seen from Table 2, the students after a continuous network of educational practice for three semesters determine the teacher’s work sufficiently specific. This is indicated by the verbs “to organize”, “educate”, “teach” in leading positions. Reducing the definitions of significance “to listen and hear” and “Help a child to solve problems by himself/herself” may indicate a preference for students – second-year pre-service teachers to master the tools of pedagogical work.

It should be noted that the teaching practice had its effect on the relations of students with university teachers – tutors of the teaching practice: the number of those who did not understand how to fulfill the tasks of the practice almost halved (from 80 to 45 %) about 40 % noted that “it became simpler because they had experience and knew the specific goal of the practice”; many of them recorded joint work with school teachers. We note positive dynamics here. While in the second term only 12 % of students noted trust relations with the teachers, by the results of the 3rd term 25 % of students note that “the teacher trusts us more” and “now we have the understanding that the tutor is always ready to help us”. This is very important moment indicative of integration of students into educational-professional pedagogical community, of creation of event communality and collaboration of teachers and practicing student. From the teacher a student gets basic assistance and acquires skills necessary in the pedagogical sphere. The practicing student observed the teacher, learns from him, analyzes his actions and tries to compare and apply them to him/herself.

By the latest questionnaires the number of students who definitely decided to become teachers grew from 23 to 40 %. Every one of these 40 % in their self-reports when answered about the reasons of their decision note positive role of the teaching practice: describe positive challenge situations in their teaching practice, success situations, and surprise situations.

However, the number of the “hesitant” also increased – с 23 to 35 % of the total number of students. We consider this positive dynamics of development of professional self-comprehension of the would-be teachers. This is indicative of their serious attitude to the choice of the future profession, to the content of pedagogical work, development of reflexive skills which are very important in the teacher’s activities [1, р. 310].

During 4–8 terms in teaching practice sessions students traditionally learn and elaborate methods and technologies of the educational process in primary school, gradually developing their own research potential. The tasks of pedagogical identification should be concomitant and cementing their professional instrumentation.

Every stage of teaching practice pays great attention to development of reflexive abilities of the students: there are required not only to describe the events held, to fill the teaching practice diary, but also to answer questions about their own difficulties, methods of their solution, interactions within the students’ group, relations with practice tutors, with schoolchildren’s parents, with the administration. The term practice form the basis to hold joint students’ conferences at which would-be teachers in mini-groups make creative presentations and debate about successes and failures. Important about the conferences is that the conference like the teaching practice is of inter-age and network nature: there is a lot to learn from each other creating a prototype of their own professional community.

The effect of practice-oriented forms of educational work and teaching practice per se on professional molding of pre-service teachers is multidimensional. We can pinpoint the following typical results:

1. Students define more exactly specific knowledge about the profession of a teacher, mold up the problem field to master and develop pedagogical activities.

2. Statement by the students of value-essence questions of pedagogical activities, professional-pedagogical identification, apprehension of one’s own capacities in performance of pedagogical activities.

3. Integration into the pedagogical community and culture, development of apprehensive skills, social and professional-pedagogical competencies.

4. Targeting students to learn, to comprehend their own resources and deficiencies as a professional.

5. Group formation, getting acquainted, formation of students’ mutual involvement which is an important condition for the personal development of students.