Williams 2013 Article Boundary crossing and working in the third space: Implications for a teacher educator’s identity and practice

Williams, J. (2013). Boundary crossing and working in the third space: Implications for a teacher educator’s identity and practice. Studying Teacher Education, 9(2), 118-129. DOI: 10.1080/17425964.2013.808046

Summary: In this article, the author used self study to understand her identity construction as she engaged in a boundary-spanning role in teacher education at a university in Australia. This transition is difficult and the author struggle with her dual identity as a teacher and now as a teacher educator. Her shifting identity between teacher and teacher educator caused her frustration. She used her knowledge of teaching as a foundational knowledge base of being a teacher educator. She also learned that having different views of the preservice teacher’s performance created tension in the relationship with the mentor teacher. Finally she learned that living or being in the third space of supporting preservice teachers in the practicum is hard.

  • “This article presents the findings of a self-study in which I explored the implications of working in this third space on my own evolving identity and practice as a teacher educator” (p. 119).
  • “Although I believed that my supervisory visits generally had a positive outcome, I left each time with a sense of frustration and a degree of confusion – if I only related to student teachers as I would have as a classroom teacher, that is, giving advice on how to teach, what was the point of being a teacher educator in this context?” (p. 119). It was clear that at first she saw her role as similar to what she perceived a mentor teacher’s role should be, which is to give advice. Becoming a teacher educator in the third space is truly a transformative process.

Research Questions:

  1. How does practicum supervision in schools contribute to my evolving identity and practice as a teacher educator? Which later evolved into:
  2. How does my experience as a classroom teacher mediate my relationships with mentor teachers in schools? And how do I manage different views of teaching and learning during practicum visits? Which later evolved into the final question:
  3. What is my purpose as a teacher educator working in schools during practicum supervision?


  • “Sharing experiences, knowledge, and understandings was an important bedrock on which to establish a respectful professional relationship through dialogue in relation to our work with preservice teachers. To do this successfully, I had to constantly shift between my teacher persona, to establish some degree of trust, and my teacher educator persona, to develop new ways of thinking about and understanding teacher learning” (p. 125).
  • She uses the term “pedagogy of the practicum” (p. 128). I would argue this is a pedagogy of supervision.
  • “The boundary practices of the third space require a delicate balancing act of acknowledging and respecting the personal and professional identities of all involved, and using dialogue to facilitate professional learning conversations” (p. 128).