Teachers Matter - But why, where and when?

Teachers Matter - But Where, When and Why?

International research conference at Linnaeus University, Kalmar, 17-18 May 2017.

In recent years, we have seen an increasing amount of research into the nature of teachers' work and teacher education. Today, we can say a great deal about teacher competence and teacher education. There is solid evidence that teachers, and also teacher education, matter! At the same time public education has been increasingly internationalised and globalised. This implies new challenges for educational research: Regarding the idea that "teachers matter", we must ask ourselves if this verdict draws on similar understandings of what a teacher "who matters" is, and what teacher education needs to educate for in order to enable a teacher to matter.

The conference aims to empirically and theoretically explore the impact of contextual factors on teachers and teacher education and thereby further nuance the statement that "teachers matter".

The conference aims to highlight the following questions:

  1. How can different comparative education perspectives in research on teachers contribute to an understanding of what contexts teachers matter in, and why? In other words, how can we investigate and theorize about why teachers matter, as well as where and when?
  2. How can the interrelation between trans-national, national, and the very local be investigated and theorized about regarding teachers and teacher education?
  3. Which methodological challenges do we have to deal with when transferring research findings on teachers from one context to another?

This conference follows up on the previous international research conference at the same location in 2014, entitled "Teachers Matter – But How?" This conference raised several topical questions such as what might lie at the heart of successful teaching: teachers' personal motivation, particular life stories; teachers' professional autonomy; teachers acting as cosmopolitans in a world of globalisation and diversity; teachers as actors for social justice and so forth. "Teachers matters, but why, when and where" now puts forward questions around teaching as a global phenomenon, but conditioned by time- and space-related factors.


All keynote lectures are open for students and staff at Linnaeus University! No registration needed.

The conference participation is free of charge.


Alongside individual research papers, we encourage in particular the submission of symposium proposals. Both papers and symposia must focus on teachers' work and teacher education either in relation to their contextual particularities or in relation to international policy trends. The papers can represent comparative and historical studies, but also national or local case studies that illuminate the contextuality of the phenomena highlighted in the described fields of tension. All presentations, even individual paper panels, will be arranged with the presenters. After the conference the presenting researchers are invited to submit papers to a journal special issue.

Your proposals will be uploaded as individual file comprising information about

  • Research topic/aim
  • Theoretical framework
  • Methodology/research design
  • Expected conclusions/findings
  • Relevance for conference subject

When you submit your abstract you can choose one of the following types of presentation:

Paper presentation
A paper presents on-going or completed research and is presented in a paper session consisting of oral presentations and a discussion of papers. Time frame of each paper presentation is 20-30 minutes including presentations and discussions. Please observe that in case your proposal is accepted, the conference presentation at the conference must be accompanied by a paper that is to send to a panel discussant 7 days before the conference. Max. 3 papers will be presented in each parallel session.

A symposium session builds on a theme and is proposed and planned by a symposium organiser. The papers focus on a common theme. A symposium has a chair (often the organiser) and one or more discussants, who have read the papers in advance. Some symposia will overlap more than one session. The symposium organizer will decide how the symposium is to be organised and the time allotment for each presentation. It is recommended that at least two different countries/national perspectives are represented in the symposium.

The organizer of the symposium should submit a symposium proposal (as organiser's text) with a plan for the symposium including all of the following elements in one document:

1. The title of the symposium
2. An abstract describing the entire symposium
3. The names of the contributors, titles of their presentations and their abstracts
4. Please name even a discussant for your symposium.

Please upload even only one document in the abstract submission containing first the abstract of the symposium proposal followed by the abstracts for the presentations in the symposium.

All submissions must be written in English and we recommend that they should not exceed 700 words (excl. references). APA referencing conventions must be followed. Symposium submissions should not exceed 2000 words (excl. references). The submission will be assessed by the conference organisational committee regarding its scientific quality, originality, and relation to the conference subject.

Notice of acceptance of abstracts will be provided by March 30, 2017.


This conference invites 60 participants. The keynote sessions will be open to students and teaching staff not attending the whole conference. We encourage the participation of researchers at all career stages. The conference is free of charge, including coffee breaks and a conference dinner. Accommodation and travel costs must be covered by any participants who are not explicitly invited.

Registration: March 30 to May 5, 2017

Register here

Programme for Teachers Matter

The conference will be two full days, 17-18 May, 2017 and take place at Kalmar Maritime Academy in Kalmar, Sweden.

Unfortunately, too few signed up for the Reception on Tuesday, May 16 so it has been cancelled

Here is the programme for the conference Teachers Matter 2017.

Keynote sessions

A central feature of the conference will be to encourage presentation forms that enhance discussion. To start with, two prominent researchers will together discuss issues concerning teachers and teacher education as comparative phenomena ("Keynote dialogues"). The focus will firstly be presentations concerning the researchers' theoretical and empirical perspectives on teachers and teacher education as comparative research objects, followed by discussions on the opportunities and limitations of their vantage points, as well as the possibilities for triangulation and generalisation in time and space. The discussions will be led by a moderator.

Comparative education policy perspectives

Professor Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Columbia University, Teachers College, will be in discussion with professor Susan Robertson, University of Bristol.

Particular laws, organisations and resources enable teacher education and teachers' work. By doing so the state governs education within the society. Such governance of schooling follows ideas about what constitutes appropriate education in relation to nation-specific traditions and indeed a particular zeitgeist. However, particularly in an era of globalisation, such ideas about appropriate and successful schooling and governance of schooling might also be influenced by arenas beyond the nation-state: international arenas with participating researchers, professional participants and politicians. In these spaces, ideas also emerge concerning teachers and teaching and these are diffused among different national and local contexts where, for various reasons, such policy ideas will be adopted or not adopted. If they are adopted, they might be changed or adjusted. In other words, education policy is transferred between different contexts. Moreover, different actors might also evolve in these contexts and facilitate such transfers. Both scholars will discuss how we can investigate and theorize transfer processes, in particular in relation to teachers' work and teacher education.

Comparative perspectives on teacher education

Professor Gabriele Kaiser, University of Hamburg will be in discussion with professor Geert Kelchtermans, University of Leuven.

With a focus on that idea that teachers matter, it must also be asked, what is the contribution of teacher education to this "mattering". In other words, what competences are transmitted to the future professionals in teacher education? However, teacher education is not only about cognitive competences, but also about the shaping and challenging of beliefs about children, knowledge and schooling in general. It is about teacher identity work. If we can agree on this "universal" function of teacher education, we must, in an era of globalisation and Europeanization (see the Bologna process), also ask how it matters whether a young person is trained to become a mathematics teacher in Kalmar/Sweden, Hamburg/Germany, or Leuven/Belgium. Both scholars will discuss how we can investigate the contextual framing of becoming a teacher. In addition, both represent different methodological paradigms. Professor Kaiser will draw on her experiences from the IEA International Teacher Education Development Studies (TEDS) group and thereby represent a comparative macro perspective, while professor Kelchtermans discusses his experiences with research methods from a narrative-biographical perspective. This approach takes as its starting point a micro perspective. We are in particular interested in how both perspectives can complement each other.

Comparative perspectives on teachers’ professional cultures

Associate professor Barbara Schulte, Lund University and professor Kathryn Anderson-Levitt of UCLA, will discuss ethnographical perspectives in order to comparatively investigate teacher's professional culture. Schools in different local contexts can be analysed from the perspective of their policy framing. Such a perspective focuses on what kinds of teachers' professional cultures might be possible. Ethnographers, however, participate in this in terms of what might have been shaped, the life in schools, school districts etc. They point out that schools are socially complex settings which involve numerous stakeholders besides teachers, such as students, school leaders, support staff and parents, who together constitute the school or school district. Consequently, both will discuss how it is possible to work with "thick descriptions" in our field of interest, and they will do this comparatively. Further, both researchers contribute their valuable insights on teachers' differing working contexts, bringing their non-Western perspectives and vast experiences of anthropological research.

Keynote speakers

Geert Kelchtermans is Professor at the University of Leuven, where he chairs the Center for Educational Policy, Innovation & Teacher Education. The central thread of his research concerns, on the one hand, understanding the complex relations and interactions of the individual educational professional (for example teacher, principal, teacher educator, mentor), with his/her biography and the organisational and institutional working conditions, in which s/he has to carry out his/her duties, on the other. In conceptualizing and unravelling these practices and processes, he tries to combine theoretical frameworks that acknowledge the role of both agency and structure. His interests include not only the technical and instrumental, but also the moral, emotional and political dimensions of teacher and school development. His latest publications investigate teacher educators' professionalism in practice.

Website Kelchtermans

Gita Steiner-Khamsi is Professor of comparative and international education at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. Prior to her appointment at Columbia University (1995), she worked for close to ten years as a policy analyst in the Ministry of Education, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland. She published eight books, numerous journal articles and book chapters on areas related to comparative policy studies, globalization, comparative methods, and international educational development. She has analyzed school reforms and teacher policies in North America, Europe as well as in Mongolia and Central Asia. She is series editor of two book series in comparative education, one with Routledge (World Yearbook of Education) and another with Teachers College Press (International Perspectives on Educational Reform), and is a former president of the Comparative and International Education Society (2016). Her most recent book is entitled The Global Education Industry, co-edited with Antoni Verger and Christopher Lubienski, published by Routledge in 2016.

Website Steiner-Khamsi

Susan Robertson is Professor of Sociology of Education at the University of Bristol. Her research is concerned with the changing nature of education resulting from transformations in the wider global, regional and local economies and societies, and the changing scales at which ideas, power and politics are negotiated. She is particularly interested in how these dynamics challenge, and change, the nature and scope of education outcomes and the social justice implications of these for different social groups – including students and teachers. Her recent books include: Public Private Partnerships in Education with Karen Mundy, Anthony Verger and Francine Menashy (published by Edward Elgar), and Privatisation, Education and Social Justice with Ian Macpherson and Geoffrey Walford (published by Symposium Books).

Website Robertson

Gabriele Kaiser is Professor of mathematics education at the Faculty of Education of the University of Hamburg. Her areas of research include the teaching and learning of mathematical modelling and applications, international comparative studies, gender and cultural aspects in mathematics education as well as professional knowledge of teacher and teacher education. Gabriele Kaiser's most recent projects deal with teacher education from an international perspective. Together with Sigrid Blömeke (Oslo University) and Johannes König (University of Cologne), she currently works with the international Teacher Education Development Study (TEDS) group that investigates the competences of teachers in relation to teacher education and also to instruction. The latter is also in relation to student performance and instruction quality. Gabriele Kaiser was convenor of the 13th Congress of Mathematical Education 2016 in Hamburg. Moreover, she is editor in chief of ZDM Mathematics Education (formerly Zentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik).

Website Kaiser

Kathryn M. Anderson-Levitt is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and a former editor of Anthropology and Education Quarterly. She is now adjunct professor in the Social Research Methodology Division of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. She had an important impact on increasing awareness of how cultural variations in different contexts complicate our understanding of educational transfer. She is the author of Teaching Cultures: Knowledge for Teaching First Grade in France and the United States (Hampton 2002) and the editor of Local Meanings, Global Schooling: Anthropology and World Culture Theory (Palgrave Macmillan 2003) and of Anthropologies of Education: A Global Guide to Ethnographic Studies of Learning and Schooling (Berghahn Books, 2011)

Website Anderson-Levitt

Barbara Schulte is Associate Professor for Education at the Department of Sociology, Lund University, Sweden. Her research focuses on the global diffusion and local appropriation of educational models and programs, on education, privatization, and consumerism, on new technologies/ICT, education, and techno-determinism, as well as on issues of education, aid and development, with particular focus on China. Current research projects include a study of private schools in urban China, an investigation into the challenges of the 'digital society' in China and their implications for education and upbringing, and a project on ethnic minority education in Southwest China. In terms of theory discussion, Barbara Schulte has been contributing to the literature on educational borrowing and lending. Methodologically, she has conducted mainly qualitative research but also incorporated e.g. a social network approach.

Website Schulte

Best paper award

Emerging researchers best paper award

We will award one best paper and 2 runners-up in this category. The winning paper will be officially awarded at the conference. The papers are considered for publication in the conference proceedings, which are going to have the form of a journal special issue. Authors must be currently enrolled in a PhD programme or must have finished their PhD not longer than 2 years ago and must be in the early stage of their careers (no professors).

Please submit a complete original paper related to the conference's theme (max. 8000 words, including references) until 1 March 2017 to wieland.wermke@edu.uu.se

The assessment of the papers' quality will be processed by the conference's organisation team.

Organisation Committee

  • Daniel Alvunger, Senior lecturer in Education, Linnæus University, Conference coordinator
  • Wieland Wermke, Associate Professor of Education and Conference coordinator, Uppsala University
  • Ninni Wahlström, Professor of Education, Linnæus University
  • Per Lindqvist, Professor of Education, Linnæus University
  • Ulla-Karin Nordänger, Professor of Education, Linnæus University


We have pre-booked rooms at the hotels listed below. Please, call or email the hotel directly and mention the booking code "TM2017" when you book to get our special price. Note: The pre-booked rooms cannot be booked on-line on the hotels website.

Notice! In order to get the pre-booked room with special price you need to make your reservation before 16th of April, 2017.

First Hotel Witt
Södra Långgatan 42
392 31 Kalmar

You can book this hotel via telephone: +46/480-15250

Larmtorget 2
392 32 Kalmar

You can book this hotel via email: info@frimurarehotellet.se or telephone +46/480-15230

Slottsvägen 7
392 33 Kalmar

You can book this hotel via email: info@slottshotellet.se or telephone +46/480-88260

Useful information

Travelling to Kalmar

The conference takes place at Kalmar Maritime Academy. From the bus station and train station in Kalmar it is about 3 minutes walk to the Kalmar Maritime Academy.


From Stockholm to Kalmar Airport (KLR):
Flights from Stockholm, Arlanda airport (ARN). Visit sas.se for more information.

Flights from Stockholm Bromma airport (BMR). Visit flygbra.se for more information.

Bus from Kalmar Airport

Take bus 402 from Kalmar Airport to Kalmar Resecentrum (train and bus station). The conferece is hold at Kalmar Maritime Academy.


Train from Copenhagen Airport (CPH)
From Copenhagen Airport/Kastrup, Denmark, take the Öresunds-train directly to Kalmar (about 4 hours). Train from Copenhagen airport/Kastrup to Kalmar railway station. For timetable visit sj.se

Train from Stockholm to Kalmar
Visit sj.se to search for timetable.

Taxi Kalmar

+46 (0)480-44 44 44
The taxi stand is situated by Resecentrum (the travel center, train and bus station) and Kalmar Airport.
You can also visit Flygtaxi.se

Teachers matter 2014