Subtitled Professionalism and Teacher Education: Voices from Policy and Practice, the conference isn’t until July – but that hasn’t stopped conference convenor Deborah Heck from getting to work early.

“I suppose what we’re looking at is trying to explore the notion of ‘who are teachers and teacher educators?’” she says. 

“Times are changing and what are the different perceptions we have of what it means to be a professional, how might that have changed, how’s that perceived through policy and what are we doing about that?”

Another focus is the concept of reclaiming professionalism.

“Professionalism seems to have been taken over by a lot of agendas that require us to fulfil managerial kind of requirements of ‘we need certain amounts of this or that in a program’ or ‘teachers need to measure up to certain numbers’,” Heck explains.

“The challenge with that approach is that I think professionalism is much broader than the kinds of things that you can count ... you can’t count compassion, how do you count attending to social justice, how do you count those things?”

Heck hopes the conference will push teacher educators to re-evaluate their own practices.

“I suppose what I’m hoping is that they’ll take some time to reflect on their own professionalism and what they’re going to do and try, and develop a bit of an agenda for themselves,” she says.

“Rather than waiting for the external factors ... actually come up with their own direction of where they’d like to go and what they’d like to work on, or what they’d like to think about.”