DNLE – Assignment #2: Educational Challenge Scenario

Our 2nd individual assignment was to write an “educational challenge scenario”:

Write a description that tells a story of a real or hypothetical educational challenge or problem scenario. You can research and describe a real learning/training challenge facing a school or organization, or you can make one up of your own. Describe the learners, the learning needs, the ecosystem, infrastructure and resource factors that influence implementation, and any existing learning program (if applicable).

I chose to describe a real-world challenging situation, which I’m directly involved with.

Teacher students as reflective practitioners

Submitted by Robert Reuter

Last modified 7 days ago by Robert Reuter
Since September 2005, initial teacher training (preparing students to become teachers in a variety of schools settings, ranging from kindergarten to grade 9) is organized as a vocational bachelor in educational sciences at the University of Luxembourg (http://bsce.uni.lu).

The study program aims at developing “reflective practitioners”, i.e. teachers who are able 1) to integrate scientific knowledge about learning, teaching, educating and schooling into their teaching, educating and schooling practices, 2) to analyze and evaluate their own teaching practices in terms of valid scientific knowledge and 3) to accordingly optimize their own teaching practices.

Students are, more specifically, supposed to develop the following competencies: work in collaborative and autonomous settings, critical thinking, teaching in multilingual and multicultural contexts, create meaningful learning sequences, create interdisciplinary learning activities, use multimedia and digital ICT tools to support learning and teaching, teach in a variety of school contexts, think like an educational researcher, act like a small-scale educational researcher, reflective thinking. Students should be able to show mastery of these competencies after 4 years of training.

In order to be able to enroll in the study program, candidates need to be holders of a secondary school diploma allowing access to university studies and they need to pass an admission exam assessing their text comprehension competencies in German, Luxembourgish, French and English, as well as their knowledge and understanding in elementary Mathematics and Sciences. Most students feel that they want to become “good teachers”, based on their personal experiences of “good teachers” and on their socially constructed definition of “good schooling” when they were in primary school, some years ago.

The training program combines academic courses (lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials) on the university campus with internships in schools. A variety of professionals intervene at both levels, with about 60 people working as university teachers on campus for the program and about 200 people working as internship teachers in schools. On campus the technology infrastructure comprises specialized computer rooms, cross-campus WLAN internet access, a team of 3 IT support people as well as 1 educational technology support person. Most students bring their own digital devices (laptops, smartphones or tablets) to classes. Moreover they can borrow digital video camcorders from our IT department. In internship schools the technology infrastructures are quite heterogeneous, some classrooms have access to one laptop per child and others having access to just 1 desktop computer.

Despite all the efforts put into the training program, many students tend not to use the valuable theoretical and practical knowledge they “received” during university courses 1) when they plan and enact their own teaching activities and 2) when they analyze and evaluate their own teaching activities. As a consequence, few students manage to correclty evaluate their own teaching and to implement more innovative and effective teaching methods.

One reviewer gave me an interesting comment:

Why don’t supervisors insist on compliance for trainee teachers and force them to adopt theory and research?

Excellent question! But I feel that this is exactly what’s so challenging about our situation… even if I did not frame it like that… I always focused on the issues that students “cause”, instead of looking more at the solutions on the teacher side…