Taylor, Klein, & Abrams Tensions of Reimagining our Roles as Teacher Educators in a Third Space

Taylor, M., Klein, E. J., & Abrams, L. (2014). Tensions of reimagining our roles as teacher educators in a third space: Revisiting a co/autoethnography through a faculty lens. Studying Teacher Education, 10(1), 3-19. DOI: 10.1080/17425964.2013.866549.

Summary: In this article, the authors use a self study approach to understand their roles and practices as they worked with mentor teachers. They found that regular meetings with mentor teachers where there was no preset agenda was an important structure in the transformation process. Their findings were mostly in the tensions. Those tensions included balancing professionalism vs authenticity in their relationships with mentor teachers, in positioning themselves as sources of authority as compared to collaborative partners, in fostering collaboratie agency despite preferred individual agency, and in being apprenticed with the community as compared to being apprenticed by an individual. Sharing and being vulnerable were important in building relationships. Mentors’ first reaction was to teach through telling. They also instinctively cast the faculty in positions of authority and expected hierarchy. Collaborative agency is essential for fostering systemic change. Changing language from “I” to “we” was an important step in fostering collaborative agency.

Research Questions:

  1. What happens when faculty facilitate a third-space teacher education program with mentor teachers?
  2. How does this third space influence the teacher education practices in an urban teacher residency program?


Professional vs Authentic Relationships:

  • “Instinctively, mentors felt that their resident relationships should be professional and that these should resemble the hierarch that they assumed” (p. 10).
  • “Gradually, we realized that residents and mentors were more open to critique when critique was supported by a relationship that blurred the line between the personal and the professional” (p. 10). (MY THOUGHTS – So professional means hierarchical?)


Authority vs Collaboration

  • Authority in this context took the shape of knowledge and expertise, and for many of us the first step was in knowing when to co-construct our knowledge with others. A new tension emerged in knowing when it was equally appropriate to own or to embody authority in the form of expertise” (p. 11).


Collaborative Agency vs Individual Agency

  • “Most mentors had spent years working as individual agents of change. For many, becoming a change agent was a significant part of their identity, and as faculty we supported the development of change agency for our residents and mentors. However, over time we also realized that individual change agency was not nearly enough to make the sustainable change that is needed in the district and that, in fact, our program created the need and the vehicle for collaborative agency” (p. 13).


Individual vs Collective Apprenticeship

  • Traditional teacher education programs emphasize teacher education as an individual process that often occurs in isolation. The individual preservice educator works individually with a mentor in schools and individually with faculty in universities; rarely do those two communities converge, and when they do, those instances are rarely of significant collaboration” (p. 15).


Other important quotes:

  • We posit that teaching courses on site, as is common in professional development schools and urban teacher residencies, is only valuable if universities and faculty are able to develop collaborative relationships with teachers that enable reciprocal teaching and learning. Faculty must find ways to read the school and bridge the two agendas of school and university, engaging in reciprocal work” (p. 16).
  • Co-autoethnography was helpful for creating and mediating a third space.