Graham, A & Phelps, R 2003, 'Being a teacher: developing teacher identity and enhancing practice through metacognitive and reflective learning processes', Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 11-24.
The abstract and pdf of the published article reproduced in ePublications@SCU with the permission of AJET.
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The discourse of reflection is now firmly embedded in a range of teacher education programs in Australia and overseas. Reflective frameworks have been used by teacher educators to offset the perennial emphasis on technically prescriptive interpretations of ‘being a teacher’. Whilst these undoubtedly contribute to the personal ‘meaning making’ of neophyte teachers, particularly in relation to practical classroom experiences, there remains significant scope to integrate a more concerted reflective approach throughout other elements of the teacher education endeavour. When the language of reflection is applied only in a cursory or superficial way in the teacher education context the opportunity to acknowledge, nurture and challenge the developing identity of the teacher is limited. The critically important question of ‘Who am I?’ is subsumed by an emphasis on ‘What do I have to do?’ In establishing an identity as a teaching professional it is critical that teacher education students come to understand their identity as a lifelong learner and consequently, their own values, attitudes and beliefs as learners. This paper provides an exemplar of one teacher education initiative that attempts to integrate both the skills and identity agendas through a metacognitive and reflective practice approach. The paper begins with a brief discussion of some important contextual issues concerning teacher education in Australia with particular reference to debates emerging from various reviews in relation to the most effective approaches to preparing teachers for the challenges and demands of the profession. The paper then provides an overview of a unit in the first year Bachelor of Education (Primary) program at Southern Cross University in NSW, Australia, which seeks to simultaneously immerse the students in the practical ‘know-how’ of teaching whilst facilitating learning concerned with their developing identity as teachers. The pedagogy underpinning the unit provides for considerable emphasis on metacognitive and reflective learning strategies which aim to challenge and enhance constructs concerned with ‘being a teacher’. The paper explores the rationale for such an approach and draws on data from the unit evaluations in providing an insight into the efficacy of the approach.