1 University of Tartu (ESTONIA)
2 Tallinn University (ESTONIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 7658-7667
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
This paper explores the beliefs about a teacher’s role through metaphors in order to reach greater clarity about the starting positions of the potential teachers at the beginning of their studies in teacher education. Student teachers start their studies in the university with preexisting beliefs about teachers, students, teaching, classroom etc which appear to serve as filters through which they view and interpret the teaching performances (Kagan, 1992). These beliefs can either contribute to their learning or become an obstacle if their beliefs oppose to those the teacher educators are attempting to promote (Pinnegar, Mangelson, Reed & Groves, 2011).

193 participants from two Estonian universities were asked to complete the statement “A teacher is like …” by providing a metaphor and then elaborating on it. Data analysis was carried out by a coding manual (Löfström, Poom-¬Valickis & Hannula, 2011), based on the teacher’s knowledge-base instrument (Beijaard, Verloop and Vermunt , 2000). According to this manual the metaphors were categorised in the following categories: subject matter expert, pedagogue, didactics expert, self-referential metaphors, contextual metaphors or hybrids. In addition, the distinction between positive and negative metaphors was made.

This study has shown that the most commonly used metaphor type about the teacher’s role was a pedagogue. Students who see teacher as a pedagogue emphasise the teacher’s responsibility in raising future citizens, solving children’s problems and being a role model. The metaphors in the didactic category reflect the belief that the teacher has a supporting and guiding role in learning and also in creating the learning environment and synergy. As a subject specialist, the teacher is perceived as a wise provider of knowledge and skills. Self¬-referential metaphors reflected the teacher’s personality, whereas contextual metaphors described the features of the teacher’s work environment. Hybrids showed more broadened views about the teacher’s role and included elements of more than one of the above categories. Although the results show that the beliefs about the teacher’s role among the potential future teachers are more positive, there were students who perceive the teacher’s role as negative. These negative aspects may restrain the students from becoming a teacher. In addition, there was a rather large amount of neutral metaphors, which may change to either positive or negative during studies. Taking account of the student teachers’ beliefs about the teacher’s role at the beginning of their studies, the teacher educators can support the students in their professional development. Examining their own beliefs, the student teachers can reflect upon their identity as teachers-to-be.

[1] Beijaard, D., Verloop, N., & Vermunt, J.D. (2000). Teachers’ perceptions of professional identity: an exploratory study from a personal knowledge perspective. Teaching and Teacher Education 16, 749–764.
[2] Kagan, D. M. (1992). Implications of research on teacher belief. Educational Psychologist, 27(1), 65–90.
[3] Löfström, E., Poom-¬Valickis, K., & Hannula M. S. (2011). Categorisation of Teacher Metaphors. Unpublished Manual for NorBa Project. University of Helsinki and Tallinn University.
[4] Pinnegar, S., Mangelson, J., Reed, M., & Groves, S. (2011). Exploring preservice teachers’ metaphor plotlines. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 639–647.
Beliefs, teacher’s role, teacher education, metaphors.