In 2013 a group of international teacher educators met at the AERA conference to discuss the lack of attention teacher educators as a professional group received from policy makers and colleagues in the international research community. We did not exactly know how to go about drawing attention to our professional group, but we became aware of the need to engage in initiatives focusing on teacher educators, our jobs, what knowledge and skills are needed to do that job, and how this knowledge is required. We continued our discussions at the ISATT conference the same year where the InFo-TED council was formed. Currently there are representatives from Belgium, England, Israel, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and the USA. Concrete plans for future meetings and activities were made, and today we can look back at numerous achievements and multiple plans for the future.
InFo-TED builds on and is kept alive mainly by professional enthusiasm and interest. We did not have funding until autumn 2016 when we received an Erasmus plus grant for one of our projects. Prior to that, we were completely self-funded, which did not stop us from meeting twice a year, presenting at a number of international conferences, publishing papers and organizing a seminar with European policy makers in 2016.
The common ground for InFo-TED is illustrated in a conceptual model of teacher educators’ work and responsibilities. The model is carefully explained in Vanassche et al.’s paper:
”….. teacher educators’ practices are situated in the concrete context of the local teacher education institute and/or in the national or regional policy context. The local level refers to, for instance, the culture of the teacher education institute, the existing teacher education programs, or teacher education curricula. This level can also refer to relations with placement schools or other partnerships. The national level refers to national policy measurements, existing frameworks, or standards for teacher educators. Finally, teacher educators’ practices are situated in a global level stressing their relation with supranational and societal change (Vanassche et al. 2015).
The model presents a non-exhaustive list of content domains we believe ought to be included in opportunities for teacher educators’ professional development. Given our practice-based approach to teacher educators’ professional development, we present these content domains as non-exhaustive.
The bottom part of the model consist of two continuums illustrating our belief that teacher educators work in schools as well as in higher education institutions. Moreover, professional development of teacher educators is a career long process.
Conceptual model (Vanassche et al. 2015).
This model is subjected to ongoing discussions, and it is work in progress closely related to our own understandings and development.
Another initiative is an ongoing research project (unfunded) starting with a survey of teacher educators’ understandings of their own jobs, professional development activities and needs in seven countries. The first paper presenting the survey findings was published in 2016 (Czerniawski, Gruberman & MacPhail, 2017), and we are currently collecting and analyzing qualitative data from the same countries. The main findings suggests that gaining research competence and improving academic writing skills are highly ranked as professional development needs among the European teacher educators.
The last initiative to be mentioned is the Erasmus plus grant E-InFo-TED received in 2016. The project is a development project with outputs available on line. Articles presenting the various domains for teacher educator development will be published and supported with suggestions for further readings. Moreover, we are currently working on an on-line development program for teacher educators. In 2018 E-InFo-TED will organize a European Summer Academy in Norway where about 30 teacher educators will meet for 5 days to update and share experiences. Another activity in the project is a set of regional meetings in three regions in Europe. The plan is to launch the E- InFo-TED website in June/July 2017 and to invite international teacher educators to be actively involved.
The founding of InFo-TED and its increasing activity level does not dwell in directives from the authorities, neither is it pre-planned. It is a bottom up activity growing from within the profession, and much of the talk is being made while walking it. We keep on discussing if to formalize InFo-Ted, and at the moment we are happy to continue our work fueled by enthusiasm. We want to share our products and own professional development with other teacher educators around the world (Lunenberg, Murray, Smith & Vanderlinde, 2016).
Czerniawski, G., Guberman, A., & MacPhail, A. (2017). The professional developmental needs of higher education-based teacher educators: an international comparative needs analysis. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(1), 127-140.
Lunenberg, M., Murray, J., Smith, K., & Vanderlinde, R. (2016). Collaborative Teacher Educator Professional Development in Europe: Different Voices, One Goal. Professional Development in Teacher Education. DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2016.1206032
Vanassche, E., Rust, F., Conway, P., Smith, K., Tack, H. & Vanderlinde, R. (2015). InFo-TED: Bringing Policy, Research, and Practice Together Around Teacher Educator Development. In C. Craig, & L. Orland-Barak (Eds.) International teacher education: Promising pedagogies (pp. 341-364) Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.