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How vocational teachers describe their vocational teacher identity

Authors:

Abstract

Given the current demands of Swedish vocational education and the withdrawal of the requirement for formal teacher competence in vocational subject teachers, the aim of the article is to develop knowledge of what it means to be a vocational subject teacher in an upper secondary school, i.e., how vocational subject teachers describe their vocational teacher identity. Drawing on a socio cultural perspective, data from 22 interviews have been analysed. The vocational subject teachers describe their relationship to students and the fostering work of teaching for studies, life and work as distinctive characteristics of vocational teacher identity. The fostering is focused on students’ behaviour, i.e., the relational and normative aspects of a social practice. It is interpreted that vocational teachers’ identity includes guiding the students toward memberships in various social practices. The benefit of both high quality teacher competence and vocational competence in vocational teachers is discussed.
How vocational teachers describe their
vocational teacher identity
Susanne Köpsén
The self-archived postprint version of this journal article is available at Linköping
University Institutional Repository (DiVA):
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105783
N.B.: When citing this work, cite the original publication.
Köpsén, S., (2014), How vocational teachers describe their vocational teacher identity, Journal of
Vocational Education and Training, 66(2), 194-211. https://doi.org/10.1080/13636820.2014.894554
Original publication available at:
https://doi.org/10.1080/13636820.2014.894554
Copyright: Routledge
http://www.routledge.com/
How vocational teachers describe their
vocational teacher identity
Susanne'Köpsén
Given&the&current&demands&of&Swedish&vocational&education&and&the&withdrawal&of&the&requirement&for&formal&teacher&
competence&in&vocational& subject& teachers,& the& aim&of& this& article& is& to&develop&knowledge&of& what& it& means& to& be&a&
vocational&subject&teacher&in&an&upper&secondary&school,&i.e.&how&vocational&subject&teachers&describe&their&vocational&
teacher&identity.&Drawing&on&a&sociocultural&perspective,&this&study&analysed&data&from&22&interviews.&The&vocational&
subject&teachers&describe&their&relationship&with&students&and&the&fostering&work&of&teaching&for&studies,&life&and&work&
as&distinctive& characteristics&of&vocational&teacher& identity.&The&fostering&work& is&focused&on& students’& behaviour,&i.e.&
the& relational& and& normative& aspects& of& a& social&practice.& The& study& resul ts& suggest& that& the& identity& of& vocational&
teachers&includes&guiding&students&towards&memberships&in&various&social&practices.&The&benefit&of&both&high-quality&
teacher&competence&and&vocational&competence&in&vocational&teachers&is&discussed.&
Keywords:&vocational&teaching;&vocational&teacher&identity;&vocational&teachers’&competence;&sociocultural&
perspective;&vocational&education&
We#are#supposed#to#take#care#of#young#people#and#try#to#help#them#into#careers.##
A&vocational&subject&teacher&at&a&Swedish&upper&secondary&school.
!
Introduction
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Vocational education and modernisation
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Being a vocational teacher
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The aim
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examine how Swedish vocational teachers describe vocational teacher identity.
A sociocultural perspective
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Context and methodology
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+(#!305+%0:,+0*-!*)!+(#!+*+$&!.%*,/!*)!0-+#%60#2##5;!
Findings
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20&&!:#! /%#5#-+#3;! <(#!#$%5+!5#4+0*-!$33%#55#5!6*4$+0*-$&!+#$4(#%5!"4&*5#!%#&$+0*-5(0/5!20+(!+(#0%!
5+,3#-+5;!<(#!)*&&*20-.!+(%##!5#4+0*-5@!#$4(!3#54%0:#!$-3!$-$&'5#!+(#!6*4$+0*-$&!+#$4(#%5!"2*%C!$5!
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Close relations to the vocational students
<(#!6*4$+0*-$&!+#$4(#%5! :#&0#6#! +(#!/%$4+04#! *)! +#$4(0-.!$!6*4$+0*-$&! 5,:=#4+! 30))#%5!)%*7!*+(#%!
+#$4(0-.!/%$4+04#5!$+!,//#%!5#4*-3$%'!54(**&5;!<(#'!$%.,#!6*4$+0*-$&!+#$4(#%5! ($6#! $! 30))#%#-+!
C0-3!*)!%#&$+0*-5(0/!20+(!+(#0%! 5+,3#-+5!+($-!3*!*+(#%!.%*,/5!*)!+#$4(#%5;!W#--#+(@!$!6*4$+0*-$&!
+#$4(#%!$+!+(#!]#(04&#!$-3!<%$-5/*%+!k%*.%$77#@!5+$+#5l!
As#a#vocational#teacher,#you#get#very#close#to#the#student;#we#have#better#...&what#can#I#say,#overview#of#the#
students#situation/#...&/because#we#have#more#lessons,#we#spend#more#time#with#them#and#they#turn#more#to#
us.#We#are#more#ordinary#like#that;#they#have#better#social#contacts#with#us.#For#example,#if#an#academic#
subject#teacher#has#a#problem#with#turbulence#in#the#classroom,#we#can#go#into#the#classroom#and#then#it#
immediately#becomes#quiet.
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+(#'!.#+!+*!C-*2!+(#0%!5+,3#-+5!:#++#%!+($-!*+(#%!+#$4(#%5!3*;!<(05!4*,&3!:#!5##-!$5!0&&,5+%$+0-.!
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$-3!+(05!$&&*25!+(#!6*4$+0*-$&!+#$4(#%5!+*!3#6#&*/!4&*5#!%#&$+0*-5!20+(!+(#!6*4$+0*-$&!5+,3#-+5;!
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Fostering for studies
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k%*.%$77#!5+$+#5l!
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should#not#go#through#school#not#using#the#school#time#wisely.#It#is#better#to#use#what#I#have#gone#through.
M$-5!"5+$+#7#-+!4*-4#%-5!(#&/0-.!+(#! 6*4$+0*-$&! 5+,3#-+5! +*!:#!5,44#55),&!$5! &#$%-#%5@! 0-! *+(#%!
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P-*+(#%!5+$%+0-.!/*0-+!05!+(#!6*4$+0*-$&!5+,3#-+5!"&$4C!*)!0-+#%#5+!$-3!#-.$.#7#-+!0-!5+,30#5;!<(05!
05!$! %#4,%%0-.!+(#7#!0-!+(#!0-+#%60#25!20+(!+(#!6*4$+0*-$&!+#$4(#%5;!<(#!+#$4(#%5!+$&C!$:*,+!+(#!
5+%,..&#!+*!(#&/!'*,-.!:*'5!$-3!.0%&5!,-3#%5+$-3!+(#!-#4#550+'!$-3!:#-##$+!*)!($60-.!$!3#.%##!)%*7!
$-!,//#%!5#4*-3$%'!54(**&;!T*(-@!$!+#$4(#%!0-!+(#!G&#4+%040+'!$-3!G-#%.'!k%*.%$77#@!05!4*-4#%-#3!
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They#dont#understand#that#they#must#make#an#effort#to#learn#...&I#have#students#who#never#bring#their#
schoolbooks;#they#dont#want#to#do#anything.#Why#are#they#here?
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:0..#5+!4($&&#-.#m!"<(#!5+,3#-+5!"4*770+7#-+!+*!54(**&0-.!$))#4+5!+(#!%#&$+0*-5(0/@!$5!+(#!+#$4(#%5!
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it,#then#Im#not#able#to#think#like#that.#You#want#to#have#everyone#with#you;#you#want#them#all#to#learn.
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now#I#must#do#something#about#this.#Thats#fun,#and#then#I#feel#that#its#easier,#but#the#first#year#...!
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5,//*%+06#!$-3!4$%0-.!A,$&0+'!*)!+(#!+#$4(0-.!+$5C5@!$5!#L/%#55#3!:'!M#-%0C@!05!4*-505+#-+!20+(!+(#!
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5#4+0*-5;!
Conclusions
<(#!6*4$+0*-$&!+#$4(#%5! 0-+#%60#2#3!3#54%0:#!+(#0%! %#&$+0*-5(0/! +*!5+,3#-+5! $-3! +(#0%! )*5+#%0-.!
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6*4$+0*-$&! +#$4(#%! 03#-+0+'! 7#$-5! .,030-.! EB*.*))! RJJgK! +(#! 5+,3#-+5! 0-+*! 7#7:#%5(0/5! 0-!
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RJJ\K;!
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Discussion
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References
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... This was explained as them having accountability to a vocational community of practice to which they belonged. Research on vocational teachers in the Swedish context, in initial VET, describes their work as practices of boundary-work and the fostering of sociocultural identities for entry into vocational communities of practice (Andersson et al., 2018;Berner, 2010;Fejes & Köpsén, 2014;Köpsén, 2014). This is expressed as teachers translating the demands of occupations into 200 The Work of Programme Managers in Swedish Higher VET the training and aligning school and work practices by situating the school-based training within an imagined workplace and its social context (Berner, 2010), and as teachers conveying norms and traditions from a community of practice to students by figuratively bringing the world of work into school by telling stories and providing examples (Köpsén, 2014). ...
... Research on vocational teachers in the Swedish context, in initial VET, describes their work as practices of boundary-work and the fostering of sociocultural identities for entry into vocational communities of practice (Andersson et al., 2018;Berner, 2010;Fejes & Köpsén, 2014;Köpsén, 2014). This is expressed as teachers translating the demands of occupations into 200 The Work of Programme Managers in Swedish Higher VET the training and aligning school and work practices by situating the school-based training within an imagined workplace and its social context (Berner, 2010), and as teachers conveying norms and traditions from a community of practice to students by figuratively bringing the world of work into school by telling stories and providing examples (Köpsén, 2014). The teachers' positions in relation to the field of work and their possibilities to exert agency have been put forward as significant specifically for work with curricular formation (Farnsworth & Higham, 2012;Priestley et al., 2012). ...
... However, ranking other aspects higher than teaching qualifications is not unique to the context of this study. Relevant and up to date vocational skills or role modelling are commonly valued (Fejes & Köpsén, 2014;Grollmann, 2008;Köpsén, 2014;Misra, 2011). Relevant vocational knowledge and relationships with the field are significant in teaching vocationally-specific knowledge, as in the case of HVE. ...
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Context: Swedish Higher Vocational Education (HVE) is organised as state-funded programmes provisioned by both public and private education providers in close relation to employers. In HVE programme managers have responsibilities like those that often are vested in vocational teachers. They are responsible both for the day-to-day work of provision and the continuous development of the programme and its syllabi. This article presents a study investigating the work of programme managers, focusing on their work with creating and updating syllabi and on their work organising the students' training. Methods: Five programme managers responsible for five diverse HVE programmes have been interviewed and the syllabi of these programmes have been examined. The analysis is based on a Bernsteinian theoretical perspective focusing on recontextualisation of knowledge for pedagogic discourse by different stakeholders as agents who have different basis for their actions. The study first establishes what knowledge make up the programmes to inform the understanding of what training the programme managers are tasked with organising, then examines how the programme managers take part in selecting knowledge for course syllabi, and how they organise the teaching of these syllabi in in their programmes. Findings: The knowledge that has been recontextualised for pedagogic discourse in the studied programmes is most often vocationally specific or context bound in relation to a particular occupational field. The syllabi are related to clearly defined jobs. The findings highlight how practice thus in several ways may be difficult for programme managers without work experience in the relevant occupational field or knowledge in relation to it. Not only in the work of forming and updating curricula, but also as they must be able to navigate the relevant sector of business and industry to engage appropriate employers for collaborations and to hire teaching staff. Conclusion: The findings presented in this article show that local autonomy allows for major differences regarding knowledge in syllabi and the organisation of learning between programmes within the same nationally organised VET system. This is salient even with a small number of programmes having been studied. This strongly support the importance of examining what happens in autonomous local contexts of VET provision and asking who has influence over publicly funded education in this sort of contexts, and on what these stakeholders base their actions.
... Kad su u Švedskoj počeli reformirati sustav strukovnog obrazovanja prije nekoliko godina, onda im je jedno od prvih pitanja bilo otkrivanje identiteta strukovnog nastavnika (Köpsén, 2014). Šveđani su bili zabrinuti za povećanje broja učenika koji napuštaju školovanje, a zapošljivost je njihov strateški društveni cilj, kao i cijele Europske unije. ...
... Čak je jedan od reformskih ciljeva bio smanjenje općeobrazovnog dijela kako bi strukovno obrazovanje što efikasnije odgovorilo potrebama tržišta rada. Köpsén (2014) navodi i druge probleme s kojima se obrazovna politika suočila tijekom provedbe reforme. Na primjer, između 40 % do 60 % strukovnih nastavnika nema formalnu nastavničku izobrazbu (za razliku od 90 % osnovnoškolskih nastavnika), nego nastavnički identitet stvaraju kroz radno i životno iskustvo. ...
... Vremenska točnost, radni sati, organizacija rada, dnevni raspored te odnos s drugima u procesu rada zahtjevi su struke i radnog mjesta, jednako kao i izgled, oblačenje i međusobna komunikacija. S obzirom na to da je isključivanje mladih srednjoškolske dobi iz formalnog obrazovnog sustava švedski problem, autorica Köpsén (2014) uzorne školske modele nalazi u iskustvu Finske koja je "sustavan razvoj pedagoške prakse, temeljen na tim- skom upravljanju i vođenju, kolaborativnom kurikulumu i multi-profesionalnom vođenju" primijenila u smanjenju isključivanja mladih iz obrazovnog sustava i unaprijedila svoj školski sustav (Jäppinen, 2010, prema Köpsén, 2014. Danska je tako unaprijedila svoje strukovno obrazovanje. ...
... Kad su u Švedskoj počeli reformirati sustav strukovnog obrazovanja prije nekoliko godina, onda im je jedno od prvih pitanja bilo otkrivanje identiteta strukovnog nastavnika (Köpsén, 2014). Šveđani su bili zabrinuti za povećanje broja učenika koji napuštaju školovanje, a zapošljivost je njihov strateški društveni cilj, kao i cijele Europske unije. ...
... Čak je jedan od reformskih ciljeva bio smanjenje općeobrazovnog dijela kako bi strukovno obrazovanje što efikasnije odgovorilo potrebama tržišta rada. Köpsén (2014) navodi i druge probleme s kojima se obrazovna politika suočila tijekom provedbe reforme. Na primjer, između 40 % do 60 % strukovnih nastavnika nema formalnu nastavničku izobrazbu (za razliku od 90 % osnovnoškolskih nastavnika), nego nastavnički identitet stvaraju kroz radno i životno iskustvo. ...
... Vremenska točnost, radni sati, organizacija rada, dnevni raspored te odnos s drugima u procesu rada zahtjevi su struke i radnog mjesta, jednako kao i izgled, oblačenje i međusobna komunikacija. S obzirom na to da je isključivanje mladih srednjoškolske dobi iz formalnog obrazovnog sustava švedski problem, autorica Köpsén (2014) uzorne školske modele nalazi u iskustvu Finske koja je "sustavan razvoj pedagoške prakse, temeljen na tim- skom upravljanju i vođenju, kolaborativnom kurikulumu i multi-profesionalnom vođenju" primijenila u smanjenju isključivanja mladih iz obrazovnog sustava i unaprijedila svoj školski sustav (Jäppinen, 2010, prema Köpsén, 2014. Danska je tako unaprijedila svoje strukovno obrazovanje. ...
... In line with this finding, vocational practice teachers emphasised that classroom leadership was important for student teachers to learn before the first practicum in school, as teachers' leadership abilities were central to controlling discipline problems (Schaug and Herudsløkken 2019). Other studies emphasise that vocational teachers commit to developing good relationships with their students, building students' selfesteem and confidence to function both in working life and society (Köpsén 2014;Kemmis and Green 2013;Green 2015). ...
... First, the factor create a good learning environment was rated with high and similar average values across the two groups. Studies have highlighted the importance of classroom leadership and the relational role of teachers' work in VET (Kemmis and Green 2013;Köpsén 2014;Schaug and Karin 2019). Additionally, these elements have emerged as new competencies in teacher education reforms in Norway (The expert group for the teacher role 2016). ...
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Many countries offer different educational pathways to qualify vocational teachers for work in schools. This article reports on a comparison of teacher preparation in two different programmes that qualify vocational teachers in Norway. Given the lack of a quantitative framework for measuring professional preparation among vocational teachers, the study aimed to validate an instrument on different dimensions of teacher learning. Cross-sectional survey data were collected among vocational teacher graduates (n = 567). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis indicated a good fit for a six-factor solution, with factors including preparation to plan and teach, understand students’ learning, assess learning, create a good learning environment, develop professionally and connect learning to working life. Subsequent tests of factor mean differences indicated that the bachelor sample reported being significantly better prepared for teaching than the postgraduate sample on five out of six factors. In adapting and validating an instrument for vocational teacher education, the study enriches theory on vocational teacher learning and can contribute to current discussions on what vocational teachers learn during different pathways of initial teacher education.
... La formación de los futuros maestros, debe ser algo más que la mera impartición de contenidos, se debe orientar la enseñanza a la adquisición de recursos, la construcción de la identidad profesional y al resurgimiento de la labor vocacional del maestro (Köpsén, 2014). De esta manera, es importante que el alumnado entre otras muchas tareas, reflexione sobre los contenidos que reciben y analicen si estos son educativos, si tienen posibilidades reales de llevarse a cabo, si les han parecido interesantes o si les gustan, para poder ir construyendo así su identidad profesional. ...
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The qualification of adult educators is a central aspect of the quality of adult education. However, within current policy discourses and adult education research on the professional development of prospective adult educators, little attention is paid to teacher qualification when compared to other fields of education and training. In this study, we analyse the qualification paths, or learning trajectories, of prospective adult educators in Sweden and Denmark. The analysis is based on narrative interviews with 29 students in training to become adult educators. The career paths of adult educators are often long and winding roads. Becoming an adult educator could be their primary desire, but it could also be their ‘Plan B’, a second choice. Individual motives and external demands interact in the professionalisation process. A shift in focus from teaching subject and methods to teaching context and the relation to the learners is part of the professional development. Finally, we argue that both academic studies and hands-on work in the adult education community are crucial parts of the adult educator's qualification path.
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This book discusses what constitutes vocational education as well as its key purposes, objects, formation and practices. In short, it seeks to outline and elaborate the nature of the project of vocational education. It addresses a significant gap in the available literature by providing a single text that elaborates the scope and diversity of the sector, its key objectives (i.e. vocations and occupations), its formation and development as an education sector, and the scope of its purposes and considerations in the curriculum. The volume achieves these objectives by discussing and defining the concept of vocational education as being that form of education that seeks to advise individuals about, prepare them for, and further develop their capacities to perform the kinds of occupations that societies require and individuals need to participate in—and through which they often come to define themselves. In particular, it discusses the distinctions between occupations as a largely social fact and vocations as being a socially shaped outcome assented to by individuals. As people identify closely with the kinds of occupations they engage in, the standing of, and the effectiveness of vocational education is central to individuals’ well-being, competence and progress. Ultimately, this book argues that the provision of vocational education needs to realise important personal and social goals.
Chapter
A recurrent theme in critical studies of adult education, lifelong learning, and, in particular, work-based learning is their alleged instrumental character. A common point of departure for a lot of this criticism is the principle of performativity (Lyotard, 1984), that is, the idea that education is subjugated to a managerialist discourse of efficiency and instrumental means-end calculation. The principle of performativity is argued to have a predominant influence on the educational system at large, and, thereby, also on systems for promoting lifelong learning (Halliday, 2003) and learning at work (Garrick & Clegg, 2001). As argued by the latter authors, in ‘performative times’ being a good learner is equal to being a good performer.
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Purpose ‐ Because of high drop-out rates among the students entering vocational education in Denmark retention of students has become pivotal to Danish educational policy. Thus vocational educational training (VET) colleges have been asked to work on implementing different kinds of retention initiatives and as a result, most colleges have established extended basic courses aimed at students with personal, social and/or academic difficulties. This paper aims to explore the emotional aspects of vocational educational teachers' work and present a preliminary analysis of the notion of care as socially situated within the vocational educational system. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This paper derives from a study based on fieldwork at a VET college offering extended basic courses. During the fieldwork nine weeks of participating observations and 13 interviews with teachers were conducted. Findings ‐ The paper provides empirical insights into the emotional practices and the management of emotions related to prevention of dropout within an educational setting. It shows how emotional practices can provide both teachers and students with positive identities and make out a productive force that prevents students from dropping out. However the management of emotions also involves a range of dilemmas and ambivalences revealing the difficult limitations related to an institutionalization and professionalization of human care. Research limitations/implications ‐ Because of the chosen research design more studies on the emotional aspects of prevention of drop-out from both the perspective of teachers and students are needed. Practical implications ‐ The emotional dimension of retention remains to be recognized and critically discussed more widely among stakeholders at different levels within the VET system and policy makers within education. Handling both the possibilities and the pitfalls of emotional practices requires that teachers are not left alone feeling responsible for the fate of their students. Originality/value ‐ The paper contributes with descriptions of how emotions can be productive forces preventing students from dropping out of education. At the same time it identifies a need for further critical examination of the emotional aspects of teachers' working life.
Book
Prologue Part I. Practice: Introduction I 1. Meaning 2. Community 3. Learning 4. Boundary 5. Locality Coda I. Knowing in practice Part II. Identity: Introduction II 6. Identity in practice 7. Participation and non-participation 8. Modes of belonging 9. Identification and negotiability Coda II. Learning communities Conclusion: Introduction III 10. Learning architectures 11. Organizations 12. Education Epilogue.