processes connected to the renewing of teacher training from the aspect of teacher cooperation
3. Second Teacher Workshop
2.1.3. Forging a closer relationship between students and teachers
22.214.171.124. Involving students in the BaBe research
Even during the planning phase of the action research there was consensus about the necessity of involving students from the beginning of the research on the implementation of the BA training programme in Education, and not just as subjects of research but as active participants. This decision was supported by the concern that teaching students to become researchers can be facilitated most effectively by involving them in real research, and the investigation of their own training could induce the strengthening of a special self-reﬂ ective process. In this spirit we recruited students as soon as autumn 2006 for cooperation and for getting involved in the research:
“We hereby offer cooperation to You and participation in a research that aims at gaining experience, analysing ﬁ ndings i.e. following and developing the academic training. We know that this also means additional work to You, as occasionally it may be necessary to write or talk about yourself, You have to give your opinion on the process, methods, materials and effectiveness of the training. You have to consult with your fellow students every now and then or complete questionnaires. Those who are attracted to scientiﬁ c research will have the opportunity to raise problems, and seek for and ﬁ nd answers with teachers’ help if necessary. Naturally, we count on everyone, and we would like to get all ﬁ rst-year students involved in this work! As every single student’s opinion matters and even the smallest contribution is equally valuable if You decide to join us, we will pledge our cooperation in writing.”
(Extract from the announcement to Education programmes on 27th September 2006)
We also made announcements about this opportunity on several courses, but we primarily had assisting type of tasks in mind which attracted few volunteers, and even they got involved in the research for just shorter periods, and on top of that, they did not become real participants of the process.
In the very ﬁ rst term of the research, the question was raised about how we can support these new ‘type’ of Education trainees who entered the university in larger numbers without entrance examination, and successfully socialise them to be able to adapt to the atmosphere of higher education and its special ways of learning (see Chapter 6 and 7). The research team was struggling to come to terms with this, but introducing tutoring and ﬁ nally mentoring was justiﬁ ed by the fact that this seemed to be another opportunity to increase teacher activity, and getting involved in the process of change. Teachers could volunteer for this task without any compensation, and thus a new form of teacher cooperation was established as mentors had discussions with one another every now and then and shared their experience of the term.
Many colleagues became mentors who did not even teach at the programme and so they got involved in the action research and the commencement of structural change this way. Unfortunately, with the cessation of mentoring, the activity of these colleagues declined as well.
126.96.36.199. The portfolio
Most of the teachers of the Institute are dedicated to the practice of assessment that supports the students’ development and studies, as a result the idea of introducing the student portfolio was raised again at the implementation
of the new training programme which was supported by the action research.
This had some history as during the reform of teacher training and the Education programme at ELTE PPK (Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology) this issue was raised several times, i.e. the question of how we could support the professional development of the students more effectively, how to trace the changes in their level of development and how to aid the opportunity of reﬂ ecting on that. The possibility of applying the portfolio and the actual mode of implementing it in teacher training and the Education programme was shaped on several professional forums and institute workshops.
As a result of this, several seminars formulated portfolio type of requirements for obtaining a mark, and one of the possible ways of graduating as a teacher was to submit a portfolio that is equivalent with a thesis.
We did not solely view the implementation of the portfolio as a tool in supporting the individual development of students, but we anticipated that this would create tighter relationships between students and teachers, and would indirectly ‘force’ the teachers to rely on and consciously interact with one another. We asked the colleagues who taught Education undergraduates to get acquainted with the achievements, papers, successes and difﬁ culties of students with the help of their portfolio of the previous term, and they should deﬁ ne the personalised requirements of the course based on these.
They should have individual and group discussions based on the portfolios on one of the ﬁ rst lessons, and this can be repeated during the term. The basic requirement of a really practical portfolio (for work or assessment purposes as well) is that it should predeﬁ ne such competencies that are absolutely necessary for successful graduation, as the steps of development should be planned in line with these and development should also be controlled more consciously. This was not available at the implementation of the BA training programme in Education and not even at the handing out of the work portfolio ﬁ les in March, even though two members of the BaBe team had been working on it (Chapter 4).
188.8.131.52. HolNap (meaning: Tomorrow) conference
It was the result of the impact of several simultaneous processes that during the academic year 2006/2007 this conference which presented the successful work and projects of teacher trainees and Education undergraduates was invented and held at the end of the year. The underlying reasons were the following:
• in the course of the new training several practical tasks were carried out, primarily in group work, and we wanted to provide greater publicity to the best ones,
• we intended to motivate students to continue to complete their tasks with excellence,
• the conference created an opportunity for undergraduates from different grades to get acquainted with one another, and presenting the winning entries of the National Student Conference of Science was inspiring many to join the SCS workshop,
• colleagues also had the opportunity to get to know students more, to face redundant tasks and discuss the course topics for the next year.
Picture 2 and 3: The ﬁ rst Tomorrow Conference (5th June 2007)
The table below summarises the experience drawn from the concrete steps that were made towards teacher cooperation and forging relationships between students and teachers (Table 7).
Table 7: The experience drawn from the steps supporting the cooperation of students and teachers
Then In retrospect
Perceived as an achievement Interpreted as a challenge/ dilemma Student involvement in the research:
• some students volunteered for completing concrete tasks in the research
• how can we make more students motivated and interested?
• when investigating their own programme, teachers may appear to be clueless about the BA training programme!
• it should have been important to continuously support the involvement of students,
• they should have been involved in the whole action research, in the whole process from the very beginning, instead of just relying on them in terms of partial tasks Mentoring:
• many teachers volunteered for mentoring
• are all teachers ﬁ t for this task?
• what should happen to the ‘resisting’ students?
• what should happen to the information collected from or about the student?
• students are really different, so opportunities should have been offered in a more adaptive and optional way,
• as for the teachers, conﬂ icts could have been resolved by case discussions
• handing out the personalised work portfolios touched most of the students,
• a development idea materialised
• how will this work in the absence of the competency-grid?
• how can we motivate teachers to actually rely on the student portfolio in the course of the training
• this element is still in practice, every ﬁ rst year student receives a ﬁ le,
• the conscious construction of the portfolio is closely attached only to a few courses (BaBe members keep using it!),
• deﬁ ning personalised development tasks based on the portfolio is rare,
• several student pieces of work were presented,
• we managed to present the NSCS papers to a wider audience,
• numerous teachers attended the conference
• how can we keep a higher standard of the presented student pieces of work?
• what shall be the set date for the conference?
• how can we motivate teachers and students to participate?
• the organisers failed to repeatedly create a semi-annual, substantial conference of high standard, which could have become a tradition on the institutional level for students and teachers alike