Developing the Expertise of Primary and Elementary Classroom Teachers

Tony Eaude’s book Developing the expertise of primary and elementary classroom teachers -professional learning for a changing world was published by Bloomsbury Academic in January 2018, with a paperback version published in July 2019. This book considers in detail how the expertises described in his previous book ‘How do expert primary classteachers really work?’ are developed. Details of how to order are on the Bloomsbury website.

Abstract: Developing the expertise of primary classteachers starts by summarising briefly the author’s previous work, emphasising that expertise is manifested in many different ways, specific to particular contexts and hard to describe. Teacher expertise involves a mixture of subject, craft, personal/interpersonal and case knowledge. Primary classteacher expertise requires a deep understanding of how young children learn and their common misconceptions, emphasising pedagogical content knowledge, a repertoire of pedagogies and a fluid, intuitive and reciprocal approach to planning, assessment and teaching. The many parallel strands of primary classteachers’ expertise are developed on a continuum over time, requiring regular, sustained professional learning, relating theory to practice, with the years soon after qualification especially significant. The constraints on manifesting expertise, those inherent in the primary classroom and from external expectations, must be recognised and overcome in order to build confidence and encourage informed intuition. The professional knowledge and judgement required in complex, fluid situations is learned mainly through guided practice and experience backed by theory and reflection. Primary classteachers’ attunement to children’s responses, commitment, sense of agency and professional, collective identity, understanding of their wider role, and ability to challenge their own assumptions help in developing expertise. A mixture of mechanisms, based on an ‘enriched apprenticeship’ model, including observation of other teachers, practice, mentoring, engagement with research, discussion and reflection is advocated. Key issues for different groups are highlighted, emphasising the value of supportive professional learning communities and that policy must enable rather than constrain teachers’ creativity and ability and willingness to innovate.