Teacher educators have three main paths for career development: teaching, research and institutional leadership. These may be mutually supportive, but also, sources of tension. Recent national and institutional policies encourage teacher educators to increase their research activities. This study aims to describe Israeli teacher educators’ perceptions of the three paths, and their interrelationships, as influenced by their work contexts. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 experienced, research-orientated teacher educators who work in various teacher education colleges in Israel.
The context of the study
This study was conducted among teacher educators working in teacher education colleges in Israel. Traditionally, colleges prepared teachers for pre-school, elementary and junior-high schools, and universities for high schools. Public criticism of teachers’ quality resulted in a series of reforms aimed at improving teacher education colleges’ academic level. In the 1980s, an academic degree became a prerequisite for a teaching certificate, and the colleges became academic institutions awarding bachelor degree in education, in addition to teaching certificates. A decade later, they were accredited with awarding master’s degree in education. New teacher educators are now required to hold a PhD. One of the unintended consequences of this policy is that, at present some of the teacher educators recruited by teacher education colleges lack school teaching experience. The role of research has intensified, whereas the teaching load has remained about twice as high as that of universities. Teacher educators are now expected to teach their students how to conduct research and to supervise master’s degree theses. Like university scholars, they are entitled to ‘promotion ranks’, with the accompanying academic prestige and financial benefits, being dependent on publishing papers in international peer-reviewed journals.
In 1983, the Ministry of Education established The MOFET Institute as a national intercollegiate centre to support the professional development of teacher educators (Golan and Reichenberg 2015). The Institute supports all three professional development paths: It provides study programs in teaching student teachers and in educational leadership, and hosts professional learning communities of teacher educators who hold similar leadership positions in different teacher education colleges (such as deans and heads of age related programs). The Institute supports teacher educators’ research by providing study programs and a consultation service in research and academic writing, and awarding research grants. Experienced researchers are recruited to conduct applied research projects commissioned by the Ministry of Education.
The current study examines experienced teacher educators’ professional development and needs in order to provide adequate support to teacher educators throughout their career. It explores how experienced teacher educator researchers who work in teacher education colleges in Israel perceive their roles and professional development in research, teaching and institutional leadership as well as their interrelationships. In addition, we tried to find out how they perceive the influence their colleges have on these issues.
The study’s results indicate that although research promotes their teaching and institutional leadership, they struggle to strike a balance between the three paths. Colleges do not provide support for career planning, and view teacher educators’ professional development as personal rather than as a collective institutional endeavour.
Golan, M., and R. Reichenberg. 2015. “Israel’s Mofet Institute: “Community of Communities” for the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge of Teacher Education.” In International Teacher Education: Promising Pedagogies, edited by S. Pinnegar, J. C. Craig, and L. OrlandBarak. Bingley, UK: Emerald, Vol. 22C, 299–316. Vol. Eds