Research corner

24th April 2015 at 01:00

`Development of a post-lesson observation conferencing protocol: situated in theory, research, and practice' by Soslau, E Teaching and Teacher Education, February 2015 (Elsevier) bit.lysoslau

An important part of a student teacher's learning is receiving constructive feedback from their trainers. Without good support, "teachers can become miseducated by unmediated experiences", according to Elizabeth Soslau, assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware in the US. So what framework should teacher trainers use to best help new recruits?

To understand the conferencing process better, Soslau enrolled as a novice teacher trainer and began monitoring student teachers. Afterwards, she realised she had "no idea" what her students had learned and even less about how her feedback had influenced their practice.

To remedy this, Soslau identified specific junctions in her own career where theory and practice had informed her conferencing methods. From this, she was able to devise a series of key "specific protocol questions" across five areas of teacher development: intersubjectivity (mutual understanding), adaptive teaching expertise, core reflection (focusing on the present), temporally distributed reflection (allowing teachers to reflect on how their past will inform their future) and growth competence (continuing professional development independently).

Her questions, varying from abstract concepts ("How does your current teaching identity contrast with the teacher you hope to become?") to trainee-teacher relations ("What did you learn from this conference?") began to provide a foundation to assess the pedagogical implications of teacher trainers' feedback.

Soslau urges flexibility in applying the protocol, based on learners' needs and cues, but says that by using it, trainers can prevent a culture of "assumptions" growing up that can hinder a trainee teacher's formative development.

Will Martin

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