Teacher educators should be aware of this strong intertwining between educational and societal issues and of the fact that junior teachers will have to deal with such issues, be it climate truants, illegal drugs, poverty and exclusion, multilingualism, etc. Therefore, teacher educators have to deal with this intertwining in their second order pedagogy (Murray and Male, 2005) by addressing the moral, political and emotional dimensions of education (Hargreaves, 1995; Kelchtermans, 2003). We have incorporated this in the Flemish Teacher Educators Development Profile (Mets & van den Hauwe, 2015) in our description of the role of committed professionals. Together with the role of team members we consider this role fundamental to and ‘scaffolding’ the other 5 roles that constitute the Profile: second order teachers, coaches, networkers, exploring professionals and evaluators.
By describing the professionality of teacher educators in terms of a number of roles, the Development Profile is different from most professional standards listing competences considered necessary to be a good professional. The concept of acting in different roles provides a more dynamic and holistic frame of reference to discuss the profession of teacher educators. It facilitates reflection from different perspectives on daily practices, which by definition are multi-layered. In an extramural project week e.g., teacher educators act as second order teachers, but also as members of a team and committed professionals and possibly as coaches, networkers, and exploring professionals.
Why will the roles of team members and committed professionals always be involved in such reflections? On the one hand teacher educators do not work in isolation. Together they are responsible for the education of future teachers (e.g. European Commission, 2013). On the other hand, schools operate in an authentic socio-cultural context, which will always influence the professional behaviour of teachers and teacher educators. Therefore, we consider reflecting on the relationship between educational issues in relation to the context of education fundamental to the professionality of teacher educators. Inviting students to reflect on how these relationships may influence their future practice is in our opinion as fundamental as well. Moreover, these reflections scaffold reflections related to the other roles. Let’s take the role of evaluators as an example. The profession of teacher is ‘licensed’, i.e. you need a degree or certificate of teacher in order to work as a teacher. Therefore, the evaluation of future teachers by teacher educators is not neutral, it involves assumptions about ‘good education’ and what it means to be a ‘good teacher’. Thus, the role of evaluators does not only raise questions about when and how to assess, but also about good education and good teachers.
Teacher educators have to discuss this and share their opinions. Who, on a macro level, determines the good teacher? By what means? What are the assumptions underlying whatever standards are produced (see e.g. Biesta, 2012)? To what extent is diversity possible within such a standard? Does it exclude certain groups of possible teachers? How does the teacher education institution operationalize government policies regarding the standards starting teachers should meet? On which assumptions about teaching and evaluating is this operationalization based? Do teacher educators make this explicit to each other and students or is this part of the ‘hidden curriculum’? How does the evaluation system influence who is admitted to the profession and who is not? This last question is crucial to the discussion on diversity among teachers in Flanders. Many school teams in both major and minor Flemish cities do not reflect the diversity of the cities’ populations. Do teacher educators as evaluators hinder a growing diversity among teachers? An interesting moral and political question.
Jo van den Hauwe (1964) obtained his master degree in Germanic Languages and Literature and a teaching degree from the University of Antwerp. He is director of both the Preprimary and the Primary Teacher Education Program at AP university college in Antwerp. Previously, Jo van den Hauwe has been a researcher at the University of Antwerp (1991 – 1998) and a Teacher Educator (1998 - 2010) in Brussels. From 2010 till 2015 he was a staff member of ELAnt (Expertisenetwerk Lerarenopleidingen Antwerpen) an Antwerp-based Expertise Network of Teacher Education Institutions. He is co-author of The Flemish Teacher Educator Development Profile (Mets & van den Hauwe, 2015).