Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, No.2, 217-223
Published Online April 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 217
Exploring Teaching Training Using Metaphors among
Arab Students in Israel
Khawla Zoabi, Yaser Awad
The College of Sakhnin of Teacher Education, Sakhnin, Israel
Email: ,
Received March 2nd, 2012; revised April 6th, 2012; accepted April 1 5th, 2012
Many studies reveal that personal insights and growth can be followed through the study of narratives and
metaphors in the field of education. Yet, there is a striking lack of studies in education that analyzes stu-
dents’ metaphors regarding teacher-training practicum as a continuous process, and there is a lack of such
studies in various cultural contexts. This paper describes how Arab teacher-training students described
their impressions of their practical experience through personal stories entirely based in metaphoric lan-
guage. The study was carried out in a multiple case study format, in which the cases are the stories of the
students. The stories were written in Arabic the mother tongue of the students. This paper contributed to
the body of knowledge available about student teachers’ practical experiences in two ways: first, by pro-
viding a detailed understanding of how students perceive their practicum; and second, since knowledge
through metaphors can provide direction in structuring training courses for student teaching in accordance
with student insights and by addressing their needs, such an understanding will be useful to teachers and
instructors and can guide them in providing training that is relevant, rational, and supportive.
Keywords: Component; Formatting; Style; Styling; Insert
The main objective of teacher training is to prepare students
to function in a professional manner as teachers (Lamm, 1989).
Teacher training is based on theoretical courses and a practical
experience module. Through a combination of theoretical and
practical studies, students are expected to develop practical
wisdom, which is a system of practical and simple principles
that characterize coping with teaching situations (Evans, 2007).
It reflects sensitivity and awareness of the essential in real life
situations and develops ways of dealing with them. Practical
wisdom is arrived at through theory, which fills the need for
order and verification of events that take place during a practi-
cum (Lunenberg & Korthagen, 2009). The practicum is a sig-
nificant and decisive factor in the professional socialization
process because it concerns what happens in the real world
during actual teaching in the school, in a classroom situation,
and the internal reality of teachers, which includes their beliefs
and their evolving self-identity as professionals (Dayan, 2000;
Smith & Ari, 2005; Reichenberg & Sagi, 2003; Lunenberg &
Korthagen, 2009). Moreover, the practicum has multiple and
various objectives. It aims to expose students to theoretic
knowledge in teaching and the connection between practice and
theory (Lunenberg & Korthagen, 2009); and to didactic points
of view, developing lesson plans, and various methods and
styles of teaching (Khalil & Asadi, 2005; Beyer, 1990). The
practicum provides an opportunity to experience an educational
environment and form ties with teaching staff and parents (Sil-
berstein, 2002). In addition, it strives to develop the ability to
exercise discretion and acquire professional goal-oriented tech-
niques for activating pedagogical considerations, and to de-
velop feelings of responsibility for inculcating knowledge and
building the characters and identities of their pupils (Beyer,
1990, Reichenberg & Sagi, 2003; Sarel, 1997). It seeks to pro-
vide an opportunity for the student to learn through personal
experience (Khalil & Asadi, 2005); and to develop reflective
thinking that encourages practical wisdom in the student
teacher and helps them become aware of the information they
possess (Dickman, 2005). Furthermore, the practicum is de-
signed to help students form their educational philosophies and
beliefs; develop their perspectives, orientations, philosophies,
and principles; and increase their awareness of the practicum as
a developmental process influenced by the personal and cultural
characteristics of the trainees, the macro-political context, the
structure of the educational curriculum, and the organizational
environment in which the practical experience takes place
(Awad, Zoabi, & Khalil, 2009; Parkison, 2008a, 2008b).
Students in teacher-training courses and many of their
teachers ascribe much higher importance to practical classroom
experience than they do to academic courses (Lzovsky &
Schrift, 1992; Hoy & Woolfolk, 1990; Shapiro, 1991; Awad et
al., 2009). Practical experience usually begins with preparation
for field work during coursework and by observation of ex-
perienced teachers in schools. The students are expected to put
into practice what they have studied in their academic courses,
to implement teaching methods, and to be familiar with all
facets of the work of a teacher. They are provided with oppor-
tunities to create lines of communication with the administra-
tion, teachers, and parents (Lzovsky & Schrift, 1992; Reichen-
berg, 1998). The practicum provides an opportunity for teach-
ers-in-training to become familiar with the various activities of
the teacher and to build ties with the pupils, the teaching staff,
the administration, and the parents (Gilad, 2005). The experi-
ence is consequently a complex crossroads for students, since it
is the point at which theoretic studies meet real educational
situations. Likewise, it is where the three axis of the practicum
meet: the faculty supervisor, the cooperating teacher, and the
student (Silberstein, Pnyevesky, & Goose, 2005). Student
teachers must deal on the emotional level with dissonance be-
tween their attitudes and beliefs and what actually occurs in the
field; and on the cognitive level, with a variety of didactic
methods and strategies (Reichenberg, 1998).
Numerous research studies reveal that personal insights and
growth can be followed through the study of narratives and
metaphors in the field of education (Ville & Khalt, 2007; White,
2006; Bozik, 2002; Bujold, 2004; Bullough & Stokes, 1994;
Cornelissen, 2004; Fresko, 2009; Lawley & Tompkins, 2000;
Koro-Ljungberg, 2001; Kupferberg & Gilat, 2002; Zilberman,
Danter, & Cohen, 1995). Some studies in education focus on
stories originating from professional experience, including
those of students in teacher-training courses (Fresko, 2009;
Hale, Snow-Gerono, & Morales, 2008). Yet, there is a striking
lack of studies in education that analyzes students’ metaphors
regarding teacher-training practicum as a continuous process.
In addition, there is a lack of such studies in various cultural
contexts. Therefore, this paper aims to describe how Arab
teacher-training students described their impressions of their
practical experience through personal stories entirely based in
metaphoric language. Specifically, this paper strives to learn
from the metaphors about the teaching as a rich and complex
The study was carried out in a multiple case study format, in
which the cases are the stories of the students. The stories were
written in the mother tongue of the students, Arabic. Moreover,
this paper also aims to contribute to the body of knowledge
available about student teachers’ practical experiences in two
ways: first, by providing a detailed understanding of how stu-
dents perceive their practicum; and second, since knowledge
through metaphors can provide direction in structuring training
courses for student teaching in accordance with student insights
and by addressing their needs, such an understanding will be
useful to teachers and instructors and can guide them in pro-
viding training that is relevant, rational, and supportive (Bozik,
This paper is composed of five sections. The next section
presents the theoretical foundations of the practicum and
teacher training and the role of metaphors in education. The
third section demonstrates the methodology of metaphor analy-
sis used; the fourth presents and analyzes the metaphors; and
the last discusses the findings and their influence on aspects of
practice teaching.
Metaphors in Education Research
The Greek philosopher Aristotle defined the metaphor as
“the application to one thing of the name belonging to another”
(Aristotle, 1924). Metaphors are natural cognitive tools of the
mind (Gidron & Cohen-Or, 2007). They are more than rhetori-
cal or linguistic techniques; they are at the heart of human
thought and are used not only for simple communication but to
give substance to understanding life (Lakoff, 1987; Lakoff &
Johnson, 1980; Torr & Simpson, 2003, 1996; Turner, 1987;
Wickman et al., 1999). A metaphor is a rich image made simple,
so that one word or expression can be worth countless ones.
The rich inner world of the individual can find authentic ex-
pression through the use of metaphors (Rabinowitz & Kacen,
1995). Moreover, the focus of the metaphor lies in the way the
individual conceptualizes one mental domain using the con-
cepts of another (Lakoff, 1993). Metaphors therefore have
added value, expressed in their power to throw new light on
two concepts by interlacing them, and by joining entire do-
mains through semantic concepts (Lakoff & Cornelissen, 2004).
Metaphors are consequently a fundamental tool for under-
standing the world of people (Wickman et al., 1999) and they
reflect the cultural experiences of the individual (Ying, 2007).
Kupferberg (2005) suggests that development of the profess-
sional selves of teacher-training students can be understood
through dialogic studies, including analysis of metaphors. Ac-
cordingly, metaphors play an important role in the process of
character building and teachers’ search for self, stemming from
the help they provide students and teachers during the learning
process (Bullough & Stokes, 1994). Consequently, the use of
metaphors in teacher training reinforces what has been learned
and increases the motivation to learn: students report that
speaking and writing through metaphors helped develop a bet-
ter picture of themselves as teachers (Hagstrom et al., 2000).
In teacher training, metaphors make it easier for students to
understand themselves on the emotional and cognitive levels
and provide them the opportunity to reflect on themselves,
which is necessary for their cognitive development during
training (Handy, 1998); it helps them understand long and
complex explanations easily and concisely (Rasmussen, 2001);
heightens their inner awareness of problems and contributes to
developing coping tools, and motivates and reinforces their
ability to understand reality and events around them in novel
ways (Rasmussen, 2001; Siegelman, 1990). The metaphor also
makes it easier for students to understand conflicting insights
and emotions, create cognitive consonance between external
stress stemming from reality and inner psychological stress, and
balance between the ideal and real (Zilberman et al., 1995). It
allows students to find a holistic definition for the complexity
and dynamics of the process and paves the way for them to
name the elements that comprise a certain situation without
losing the whole picture of the process (Gidron & Cohen-Or,
2007). Through metaphor, students convey the meaning of their
statements and their values (Cornelissen, 2004). Those who
used metaphors during the learning process developed the abil-
ity to think more creatively (Lawley & Tompkins).
Teachers use metaphors to explain to students the meaning of
learning. Each metaphor contributes to forming certain insights
into the complexity of learning (Vakkayil, 2008). Using meta-
phors helps teachers cope with quiet or reticent students, ex-
amine how they understand the learning materials, follow how
they integrate areas of study they manage independently and
those they need help with, and understand how they teach
(Lawley & Tompkins, 2000; Rasmussen, 2001). Students de-
scribe one kind of experience in terms of another by way of
metaphors in ways that reflect what they think about the origi-
nal experience (Lakoff & Johnson, 2000). Rasmussen (2001)
used the metaphor “scaffolding” to describe the support stu-
dents require from their teachers during the learning process to
help them build their professional characters. In the end, meta-
phors influence the day-to-day functioning patterns of students
and teachers alike (Growth & Bergner, 2005). They ultimately
provide the means to study and analyze teachers’ and students’
patterns of thought. They can strengthen or weaken learning
opportunities (Bullogh & Stock, 1994).
Apparently, speaking through metaphors is characteristic of
teachers and students (Alger, 2009; Robinson, 2000). This may
stem from the ability of the metaphor to bridge between differ-
Copyright © 2012 SciR es .
ent elements, including those that are distant from one another,
and doing so, make the meaning clearer, which is at the very
heart of teaching and learning. Consequently, understanding
metaphors is an extremely helpful tool in research, particularly
in the field of education. Alger (2009) found that metaphors are
dynamic and change as perceptions change and individuals
undergo professional development in the field of education.
East, (2009) suggests that using metaphors as a self-study tool
is a way for the teacher to step back from practice and uncover
new meanings within him/herself. Robinson (2000) found that
in daily conversation students use metaphors at least four times
per minute. Bozik (2002) examined the level of coherence be-
tween courses for liberal education among first-year students,
researchers. He found that the students demonstrated increased
ability and expansion of their vocabulary of metaphors during
the first year.
This paper analyzes and throws light on the students’ percep-
tions of their student teaching experience as revealed by their
metaphors, and draws a number of conclusions regarding the
training process. The analysis of metaphors in this paper aims
to reveal the experiences of students, their intra- and inter-per-
sonal worlds, how their selves were formed and how the stu-
dents evince them.
Data collection and analysis of this study is based on meta-
phor analysis. This method has a number of advantages: meta-
phors are tools for gathering information, finding common pat-
terns, and comparing elements; for presenting the paradoxical
and ironical; for connecting many cases to form one principle;
and for presenting a whole through one of its parts (Miles &
Huberman, 1994).
The data collected is based on metaphoric stories students
were requested to write towards the end of their first year of
study, using metaphors to describe their student-teaching ex-
perience throughout the year. The research population was
thirty-five female students in their first year of studies during
the 2009 school year, studying in a retraining program towards
a B.Ed. degree in early childhood education. Each of them was
asked to place her story in the mailbox of the researchers, who
later collected them. This is a multiple case study in which the
story of each student is considered a case. The stories under-
went a unique four-phase quantitative analysis (Jabareen, 2004,
2009; Ezzy, 2002; Huberman & Miles, 1994; Rossman & Rallis
1998): Phase one: Identifying and listing metaphors appearing
in the students’ stories, through careful analysis of each and
every story. Phase two: Identifying regularities and repetitions
in the metaphor themes identified during the first stage in all
the stories. This analysis is meant to identify central recurrent
categories in the data that describe clear patterns of the phe-
nomenon under study. Phase three: Reduction in the number of
metaphors by combining and joining related ones. Phase four:
Final naming the final categories identified and consolidated.
The model and the meanings of the studied phenomenon were
derived from the final categories.
By analyzing the stories of the students’ experiences during
their practicum, the study found that student teaching pro-
gresses on a timeline over three accumulative stages of the
practicum: 1) prior to the beginning of practicum; 2) during the
practicum; and 3) towards the end of practicum. The study
identifies ten categories that describe these three stages, classi-
fied according to the content worlds of the metaphors. This
section therefore presents these categories and their metaphors
according to these three stages.
Prior to the Beginning of the Practicum
By analyzing the stories of the students’ experiences during
their practicum, the study found that student teaching pro-
gresses on a timeline over three accumulative stages of the
practicum: 1) prior this section therefore presents these catego-
ries and their metaphors according to these three stages.
Emotional loads: The most prominent metaphoric descrip-
tions describing positive emotions like happiness and excite-
ment were “twinkling and flashing eyes”, “a smile was painted
on her face”, “my heart laughed and danced”; describing feel-
ings of relief from apprehension were “a mountain/boulder/
weight was lifted from my shoulders”, and “the bee/baby gave
a sigh of relief”. In comparison, the most prominent metaphors
describing negative emotions like fear of failure were “I prayed
I’d overcome the obstacle” and “I closed my eyes so as not to
see the depth of the pit”; those that expressed confusion and
lack of clarity were “my thoughts collided with one another”,
“the sunlight was blocked and darkness/fog hid the way/path”,
“everything around me is twisted”, and “I felt I was in gloomy
winter weather”.
Cognitive loads: The students used metaphoric descriptions
rich in content and scope in order to describe their ideas and the
information and skills they brought (or didn’t bring) with them
to the practicum. Seventy-two metaphors appear in their de-
scriptions reflecting their thoughts and ability (or occasionally,
lack of ability) to cope with their new situation. The prominent
metaphoric descriptions illustrating awareness of difficulties,
apprehension, and uncertainty were “I expected spikes/drilling/
nails on the path”, “I knew it would be dark some of the way”,
and “I knew there would be animals on the road”. Some of the
metaphors show they felt they possess the required wisdom: “I
equipped myself with common sense and past experience”, “I
studied the width and breadth of the space/the sea/outer space”,
and “I carried scales in order to weigh my steps”. In contrast, at
this point there is a relatively low incidence of metaphors indi-
cating lack of skill, knowledge, and familiarity with teaching
methods. The most numerous metaphors were “the treasure of
the forefathers”, “I didn’t know how a road is paved”, and “I
hadn’t encountered that rule”.
During the Practicum
After beginning the practicum: The students used a variety
of metaphoric descriptions to express the experience of entering
the world of student teaching. Their descriptions can be divided
into two metaphoric content worlds: rebirth and moving from
place to place. The most of the students chose to describe the
beginning of the practicum as moving from one place to a an-
other (of course, according to the rules of metaphor), though
they differed in both content and attributes: “flight in the sky”,
“diving into the water”, and “entering a hive”. Eleven students
described the beginning of their practicum as rebirth or a new
beginning, and used metaphoric descriptions such as “leaving
the womb” and “growing in a flower garden”. It is interesting to
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 219
note that the content worlds used by the students to describe the
beginning of the practicum required they possess special apti-
tudes and skills to survive in the climate and conditions preva-
lent in these same places/worlds.
The practicum experience as a process: The students con-
ceptualized their field experience using two classes of metaphor:
the first describes the practicum as a developmental process and
the second as a process of birth. The students use a variety of
concepts with which to describe their practicum as processes of
development and birth. The most frequent were “flight,”
“growth,” and “underwater diving.”
The actual practice teaching experience: In accorda nc e with
their outlook and experiences, the students used three concepts
to metaphorically describe the world of practice teaching—first,
as a milestone event; second, as a space with boundaries; and
third, as a space without boundaries. Many students chose
metaphors that describe the content world of their practice
teaching as a space with clear boundaries and its own rules,
such as “sea,” “garden,” “hive,” “kitchen,” and “large city.” Suc h
boundaries offer the possibility of controlling the space through
learning and acquiring skills. Another 15 students chose meta-
phoric descriptions for the content world of their practice
teaching as a space without boundaries, such as “outer space,”
“life,” “sky,” “dream”. Control over such spaces can be only
partial and only those familiar with their characteristics can
acquire the skill necessary to survive them.
Sources of motivation: The students frequently used meta-
phors to describe what motivated them to meet the challenges
of practice teaching. According to these descriptions, their mo-
tivations come from either intrinsic (generated by the self) or
extrinsic (generated by the cooperating teacher or faculty su-
pervisor) sources. As noted above, the first group of metaphors
originated in the intrinsic motivations of the students. The stu-
dents used a total of 183 concepts to describe how they faced
the challenges they confronted in the world of practice teaching.
Their frequency was high and they were extremely rich in con-
tent. Some of the more prominent metaphoric descriptions be-
longing to the first category were those regarding persistence (I
held on with my bare teeth, I stood firm against the wind/
waves/quakes); patience and survival (I healed my pains), will
to continue studies (I will continue to dig despite the melting
heat of the sun, I will stand firm against the wind and fly in the
sky/in nature/in the sea); actively surmounting difficulties for
the sake of success (I stood once more on the diving board, I
picked up the pieces and glued them together); and love of the
profession (I was drawn to climb mountains/trees/peaks, I loved
to dive/fly/collect).The second group expresses extrinsic moti-
vation provided by the cooperating teachers and faculty super-
visors in both the emotional and cognitive realms. Of the 98
expressions used, 75 belong to the emotional realm, expressed
through various metaphors such as support (I was nurtured like
a flower, I was held like a baby; I depended on love) and en-
couragement (propped up against the wind, praised my efforts
to the sky, applause). In the cognitive realm, a variety of meta-
phors were also used, such as success stories (beautiful memo-
ries from the past, legends of champions) and help in lesson
planning (the roads were outlined, the ways were shaped).
Interface Agents: The Self, the Faculty Supervisor,
and the Cooperating Teacher
The students described how they interacted with the three in-
terface agents in their practicum: the self, the faculty supervisor,
and the cooperating teacher:
The self interface agent: The first interface agent, the self,
was described by students by way of three content worlds of
metaphoric expressions: the human, the animal, and the plant.
Many students used to describe their perceptions of their selves
as a young apprentice, which reflects reality more than any
other metaphor. Others, described the self as a person who had
undergone a milestone experience (bride, infant, woman who
gave birth), as opposed to some others who described the self as
a person in need of knowledge and encouragement (someone
who need strengthening, young apprentice).
The faculty supervisor interface agent: The students used
the same metaphoric content worlds (human, animal, and plant)
as in the previous table to describe how they experienced their
faculty supervisors. The results show that most participants
chose descriptions referring to the world of humans to descri be
their faculty supervisor. Of these, 6 metaphors described a
mother, doctor, or captain. These descriptions teach us that the
students experienced the faculty supervisor, on one hand, as
someone who cares for, supports, heals, and rescues; and on the
other, as a professional, expert, and someone who commands
(captain), possessing a comprehensive vision of the student
teaching process.
The cooperating teacher interface agent: Descriptions of
the cooperating teacher also use the three metaphoric content
worlds seen in the previous interfaces: the human, the animal,
and the plant-inanimate. Many participants chose descriptions
that relate the cooperating teacher to the world of humans, and
othe rs, desc ribed he r as a hel per and caregiver, expressing their
need for her assistance. Furthermore, the other descriptions,
such as mother, farmer, and submarine commander, show the
participants perceived that the cooperating teacher was suppor-
tive, caring, and a driving force. The table also shows that 10
students chose descriptions that tied the cooperating teacher to
the animal world. These descriptions show that the students felt
the cooperating teacher was proficient in her field, an active
leader who expends considerable effort.
Towards the End of the Practicum
The students offered insights they arrived at during the
year-long practicum. Table 1 lists these insights as reported by
the students. The findings show that various insights over the
timeline that are different in content and in context. Insights 1
and 2 belong to the stage before the practicum began; 3 - 9
were acquired during the practicum, and 10 - 12 were shaped at
the end of the process.
Analysis of the metaphoric stories in this study reveals that
education students described student teaching as a varied pro-
cess made up of three accumulated stages along three points on
a timeline: prior, during, and towards the end of the practicum.
The analysis of the metaphors used in the stories demonstrates
the students’ outlooks on their teaching experiences.
Prior to the start of the first phase of their student teaching
experience, the students described their feelings and thoughts
from two perspectives: emotional and cognitive. Since it is
impossible to separate the emotional from the cognitive, which
is comprised of professional knowledge and attitudes towards
Copyright © 2012 SciR es .
Table 1.
Distribution of the in s i gh t s d e rived from the p racticum.
Insights from the practicum Metaphors
1) It is a proces s of understan ding
and inner awareness, of
understandin g reality and t he
difficulties, and realizing you
don’t know e verything
Encounter with the self (5), breaking
boulders (2); facing re ality (2);
discovering treasure (2); understanding
the recipe (2); facing weakness (2);
mixing new paints (2)
2) The proce ss is long and requires
patience and coping with
Spreading wings against the wind (4);
chasing away the darkness (2);
absorbing the pain (1); standing up
straight to meet challenges (1)
3) A process full of surprises,
disappointment, and unce rtainty
A path full of hiding places and
ambushes ( 4) ; a very winding road (4);
a path full of thorns and briars (4); a
journey with no road signs (4)
4) Success r equires the wil l t o
discover a nd learn
Pleasure from flying/diving (4);
enjoying riding the waves (4);
searching for coral/stones/colors (4);
uncover the roots (2)
5) Success requires encouragement
from the fa culty supervisor and
coordinating teacher
Pushing the trolley fo rward (5); t o
outstretch a hand before the
sailing/dive (4); to fuel the emotions
(4); stiffen the backbone (1)
6) Initiative is required from the
student as well
Jumping/diving into the water (5);
taking off into the sky (4); paving the
way (3)
7) Many pla yers have ro les in the
Meeting a floc k of birds/a swarm of
bees/a school of fish (6); being familiar
with the audience/the farmer/owner of
the garden (4);
8) Success depends on asking for
advice a n d so metimes for help
Dancing the tango (4); playing cards
(2); arm-i n -arm (2); wa l k in g
hand-in-hand (1)
9) Love of the profession is an
indispensable element of success
Falling in love with diving/flight/dance
(3); enthusiasm for the jo urney (3); to
desire the ric h world (2)
10) This is a continual learni ng
To continue the journey (3); to set the
wheel in motion (2); to dig in the
ground (1)
11) The process involves
changing attitudes, accepting
criticism, and respec ti ng the
opinions of the other
Listening to the sounds of the
musicians (3); to feel the inner voices
(2); to sway with the wind (1)
12) The process is individual To sink into the self (2); to swim/play
music/climb alone (2); experience
the profession (Segal et al., 2009), the students saw the two as
complementary, and accordingly referred to both. Descriptions
of their emotional loads included negative emotions like fear of
failure, tension, stress, and confusion; and positive emotions
like happiness, excitement, calm, and satisfaction. Studies have
shown that the emotional state of teacher trainees has not been
widely studied (Segal et al., 2009). Yet, the findings of this
study indicate that students come to the practicum with emo-
tional loads that can be of help for them over time by motivate-
ing and helping them integrate into the learning experiences
related to their training. The cognitive load, according to the
students’ descriptions, included some skills they felt they pos-
sessed or did not possess at the very beginning of the practicum.
The incidence of concepts describing having cognitive loads,
like awareness of difficulties; apprehension; and uncertainty, is
high. On the other hand, the incidence of skills that they lack,
mainly information, tools, and teaching skills and methods, is
low as the process begins. Previous studies show that teachers
in-training bring with them to the practicum professional, emo-
tional, and communicative attitudes, and information relating to
the teaching profession. This helps them integrate during their
training and is a basis for development of identification with the
profession and consolidation of a pedagogic orientation (Parki-
son, 2008b, 2009). A previous study found that before begin-
ning practice teaching, tension and unpleasant thoughts and
feelings were prevalent among trainees. They welcomed learn-
ing about practical didactic tools before the practicum in hopes
of reducing the gap between theory and practice during their
teaching experience (Smith & Lev Ari, 2005).Studies show
that both the emotional and cognitive loads, not yet focused and
balanced before entering the practicum, become so during the
process, after the students’ exposure to theory and practice,
which is the basis of developing practical wisdom (Lunenberg
& Korthagen, 2009).
The students considered their transition to student teachers
significant and exciting, and described it (before and during) as
a passage from one place to another one different in content and
character. The metaphoric descriptions they used were “flying
from land to sky”, and “leaving the womb to begin life”. They
also described the practicum as a long, dynamic process (flight
and growth); a milestone event (marriage); a space with bounda-
ries (the sea); and a space without boundaries (outer space). It is
evident from the content worlds used by the students to des-
cribe their debut into practice teaching that they believed they
needed special capabilities and specific skills in order to face
the initial and ongoing challenges of the practical experience.
The preliminary period is characterized by stress among the
students both because of the new challenges of the practicum
and their academic studies. Studies show that although the stu-
dents continue to study teaching during the practicum, they are
afraid they are ill-prepared to enter the classroom and school.
They still lack the ability to cope with new challenges and
stress, as well as didactic and practical tools and tips for creat-
ing alternative activities and dealing with disciplinary problems
(Lehavi, 2009; Segal et al., 2009; Smith & Lev Ari, 2005).
The students recounted two types of motivation that helped
them face challenges during student teaching. The first was
intrinsic, its origin their inner strength and personalities. This
finding concurs with that of Segal, Ezer, & Gilat (2009); i.e.,
motivation to teach involves satisfaction with the decision to
study teaching and commitment to joining the teaching profes-
sion in the future. These parameters are similar to those of the
present study, that is, devotion to the objective, wanting to
teach, and loving the profession. The second type of motivation,
as described by the students, is extrinsic—it originates from
encouragement received from the cooperating teacher and fac-
ulty supervisor. Developing motivation in trainees is an essen-
tial and integral part of training them (Mishali, 2001). Cooper-
ating teachers and faculty supervisors understand their support
must come through positive reinforcement, focusing guidance
conferences on those areas that require improvement, and in-
cluding words of approval in the dialogue (Dayan, 2000). Ulti-
mately, motivation to teach is an important and central element
in successful integration into the profession and satisfaction
with it.
How did the students perceive the interface agents during the
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 221
practicum: the self, the faculty supervisor, the cooperating
teacher, and the pupils? The first three were described on the
basis of two content worlds: the animate and the inanimate, or
more specifically, the human, animal, and plant/inanimate worlds.
It should be noted that very few metaphors came from the in-
animate, and those that did were naturally from the computer
(e.g., change the disc) and automotive (e.g., I lost the brakes)
spheres, but nature and people were dominant, a potential di-
rection for future research. This could be explained by the fact
that the participants are close to nature, to children’s literature,
and are familiar with reading materials that tend to use meta-
phors from nature and not from the inanimate. Regarding the
self, students seemed to perceive themselves as weak and in
need of help, encouragement, and support. A reading of the
literature shows that the process of professional training for the
service professions is long, difficult, and involves the painful
meeting of the student with his/her emotions and weaknesses.
The role of the supervising instructor, according to the literature,
is to observe the student and diagnose problems, using beha-
vioral design techniques to provide effective solutions (Dayan,
2000); to provide socio-psychological support; to promote a
professional attitude; and to make use of essential training skills
to encourage appropriate teaching assignments—both on the
classroom and socio-institutional levels; and promote evalua-
tion, feedback, and reflection (Emmanuel, 2005). The present
study reveals that the supervising instructor was perceived as a
role model and leader, and indeed, as an overseer and pilot.
Finally, descriptions of the cooperating teacher reflected visions
of her as a mother figure, teacher, and mentor, someone with
knowledge and experience. Her role is to open the classroom to
the students; integrate them into the work culture; help them
prepare lessons; follow their work; analyze their activities to-
gether; and act as a model for im itat ion and identificatio n.
It is noteworthy that none of the participants in the present
study described their pupils as an interface agent. This may be
explained by the students being so involved in their new chal-
lenges and the stress they were under that only further along the
line will they be open to learning about the pupils who will be
in their classes. Professional literature is rife with the term “re-
ality shock” to describe the transition to field work, which is
often thought of as dramatic and traumatic (Adams, 1982). The
shock experienced by beginning teachers is not merely for the
short term, but marks the start of internalizing a complex reality
that demands from its participants continuous learning and
familiarity with new elements, especially during the initial
stages of student teaching (Lzovsky & Schrift, 1992). Not re-
ferring to their pupils can also be attributed to the cultural con-
text reflected in the teaching models the participants in the
study were exposed to and internalized as students, which are a
significant influence on their personal and professional devel-
opment (Reichenberg & Sagi, 2003); and by the nature of Arab
society, in which school children are of marginal importance
and teachers are mainly concerned with meeting the expecta-
tions of parents and other teachers (Dwairy, 2001). This may
have influenced the participants, resulting in them not focusing
on their pupils.
The findings present a variety of insights the students had
gained by the end of the practicum, which can be referred to as
practical wisdom, since they reflect the sensitivity and a wa r e ne s s
of the students to teaching, to the conditions they find them-
selves in, and their methods of coping. Insights such as “a
process of understanding and internal awareness, of understand-
ing reality and its difficulties, and realization that they don’t
know everything” point to growth and professional maturity.
Practical wisdom reflects a high level of professional growth
that occurs throughout the period in which trainees and begin-
ning teachings acquire experience in day-to-day teaching (Lu-
nenberg & Korthagen, 2009). It is acquired as the trainees or-
ganize their knowledge by developing an understanding of the
relationship between experience and theory (Korthagen &
Lagerwerf, 2001).
The findings of the present study teach us much about the
participants in the student teaching process. This information
can be used to improve the process vis-à-vis the needs of the
trainees. In light of this, one way to act based on such findings
is to become more familiar with the feelings, perceptions, and
personal traits of the trainees before the practicum begins. This
can be done with the help of various tools, or combination of
tools, such as questionnaires, personal interviews, card games,
and goal-oriented compositions and analysis of the resulting
texts and metaphors, in accordance to the situation and at the
discretion of the supervising instructor. Having such informa-
tion about the trainees before they enter the practicum can help
them deal with such issues as stress reduction.
It is also important to familiarize the students with all the in-
terface agents in the practicum and their roles: the supervising
instructor, and cooperating teacher, the pupils, and the students
themselves. Advance familiarity is likely to make the work of
the cooperating teacher and supervising in structor more ef fe c ti ve
from the beginning (after the students have begun practice
teaching until the end) by allowing them to adjust the training
content to match circumstances and the development and needs
of the trainees, while emphasizing the relevant attributes re-
quired to mold their professional and person identities.
Regarding the pupils, evaluators of student teachers should
be aware that the start of the practicum is not always the proper
time for the trainee to focus on the pupils in his/her class; nor is
it the time to learn about formative assessment and evaluation,
about openness and criticism. These topics become relevant to
the trainees only later, after they are finished attending to their
own issues, have survived their experience, and acquired self-
confidence. It is important to note that the supervising instruc-
tor and cooperating teacher (partners-evaluators) are an essen-
tial source of motivation to the students and, according to them,
the extrinsic source of their motivation, on top of the dynamics
and challenges that form the students’ intrinsic motivation.
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