An international commitment Across Europe and the World there is a widespread commitment to inclusive education across two interrelated domains: Reduction of segregated special education Placement of learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in mainstream schools within their local communities and among their peers. Securing effective education for ALL Improving the capacity of the education system to adapt to an increasingly complex, diverse and heterogeneous learner population in pursuit of social justice. (UNESCO, 2009; OECD, 2010; Council of the European Union, 2010)
The quality of teachers as a deciding factor There is also is widespread acknowledgement of the fundamental importance of teachers to inclusive educational reform. The success of inclusive education depends to a large degree on the quality, skill and effectiveness of the teaching workforce. (EADSNE, 2012; OECD, 2010)
Developing effective inclusive teacher education is a priority There is clear evidence that Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is not having enough impact on teacher preparedness for inclusive education. 2009 OECD teaching and learning international survey (TALIS) 23 countries (not including England) 93% of student teachers, 94% of teacher educators and 63% of teachers said diversity issues were covered in their ITE programmes. 47% of student teachers, 51% of teacher educators and 66% of teachers – current teacher education is not (or is only partially) effective in preparing the profession for diversity. Not much is known about what models and approaches are likely to be effective in moving inclusive teacher education forward.
Inclusive teacher education in England Survey of Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) Survey takes place in the February of the NQT year Gathers data on NQTs’ views of the quality of their ITE programmes. Data below is related to preparedness to teach learners with special educational needs and disabilities
Drawing on international evidence Effective models of teacher education tend to share the following characteristics Carefully structured integration of theory and practice. Subject matter pedagogy taught in the context of practice Close collaboration between universities and schools A national and cohesive strategy for ITE and CPD with values at the center Generous support for CPD A research orientation across the profession (student teacher and experienced teachers engaged in and with research) A focus on instructional techniques and outcomes for learners based in the authentic setting of the classroom High status and levels of autonomy in the teaching profession
Drawing on the smaller evidence base for effective inclusive teacher education There is evidence supporting the effectiveness of the following: Collaborative forms of practice and enquiry Experience of diverse learners High quality field experiences that enable students to understand the gritty challenge of inclusive teaching whilst carefully scaffolding the development of mastery (from ‘reality shock’ to self-efficacy) Critical deconstruction of diverting discourses (normative, medical, expertism, special pedagogy) and own belief systems
McIntyre’s model of effective inclusive teacher education Teacher education must take on a transformative role. Teacher education must be transformed Depends on relinquishing the theory into practice model Theoretical inputs should be developed in response to the real challenges student teachers are facing in schools in relation to the learners they are responsible for Partnerships between schools and universities should be remodeled to enable synchronous critical enquiry among teachers, students and teacher educators. McIntyre, 2009
Student teachers cannot transform the system alone They need collaborators in the venture! Student teachers cannot transform the system alone They need collaborators in the venture!
Breaking the cycle of traditionality Transforming the education system towards a more inclusive model depends on breaking the cycle of traditionality. The reality shock triggers a return to traditional modes of teaching and a dislike for reflection and theoretical depth. The theory into practice model is not effective since student teachers will quickly forget the alternative discourses and innovative practices they have learned about in favour of those used by their mentors or arising from memory of their own schooling Korthagen et al., 2006; Stoddard et al., 2006
Taking it forward The study being reported today sought to take forward what was known or hypothesized about effective inclusive teacher education: Designing a potentially effective pedagogic framework (based on evidence/hypotheses in the literature) and then testing it out Located in a large partnership school that hosted several student teachers for placement every year School a strong commitment to developing inclusive practice and ITE 22 participants (student teachers, teaching assistants, teachers, mentor, assistant heads, SENCo, university tutor) 22 months Inclusive Action Research combined with other methods to....
The contribution Understand how effective inclusive teacher education could be developed Understand what conditions, processes, activities were helpful to the development of skill and confidence in the areas of SEND and inclusive practices Contribute to our understanding of what models of inclusive teacher education may be effective Respond to worldwide calls for empirical research in the area
Inclusive Action Research Based on the principles and methods of INCLUSIVE ACTION RESEARCH - research ABOUT inclusion, FOR inclusion and AS inclusion (O’Hanlon, 2003) 3 actions that the participating group believed were relevant to development: 1.Lesson study 2.Personalised Learning Planning (PLP) process 3.Involving teaching assistants more closely in supporting the professional development of student teachers
There was strong evidence in the study that taking such principles forward into the design of pedagogic frameworks for school placements WORKS!
Findings: New insights Student teachers, teachers and teaching assistants are working in a challenging, dilemmatic context. They constantly used contradictory discourses, finding SEND a difficult conceptual fit with inclusion. Even among a group of participants very committed to inclusive education, the presence of the concept ‘SEND’ triggered deficit, medical discourses. School staff had to mediate the potentially negative impact of external cultures (resource issues, accountability pressures, the need to ‘label’, a content heavy curriculum, attacks on their status as professional ‘experts’). They were often pressured into compromising their values for pragmatic reasons. The voice of a disembodied external critic was often present when they were talking about their professional life and work.
Implications Teacher education will need to find ways to expose the reality of this contradictory, troubled and unsettled context so as to avoid reality shock. For example, student teachers may need to understand why teachers might both simultaneously spurn labels at the same time as seeking them. Policy makers will not help if they conceive classrooms and schools as politically neutral, unproblematic and stable environments and teaching as a ‘job’ rather than a profession. Teacher education must prepare professionals to navigate moral, conceptual and practical complexity. A conception of learning to teach as ‘on the job training’ may not (well, will not) create an effective model of inclusive teacher education. Countering the reality shock
Findings: New insights Students were active in managing their own self-efficacy and would adopt deliberate stances to help them to steady themselves for the challenge. For example, in deliberately promoting capacity discourses above deficit ones or in systematically auditing their skills and successes as a basis for building self-efficacy
Implications Teacher educators are justified in making space for reflective, reflexive and values work in their curricula. In the same way that we should not underestimate the challenges involved in inclusive education, we should not underestimate the capacities of student teachers to sustain positive identities and self-efficacies. Reflection on values and beliefs is an important dimension to inclusive teacher education
Conclusion Inclusive teaching is challenging, complex and multimodal. Inclusive teacher education must be challenging, complex and multimodal. More effective models are likely to include: High quality, varied field placements Experience of diverse learners in diverse contexts Collegiate and collaborative ways of working A research orientation A values and beliefs dimension A reflective and reflexive dimension A critical-theoretical dimension A practice into theory model School staff (teachers and other professionals), university staff and student teachers working together to construct inclusive practices and identities Pedagogic frameworks that expose the gritty, unsettled and dilemmatic challenges of inclusive education whilst supporting and scaffolding journey towards a sense of mastery in a systematic way A focus on outcomes for learners Authentic contexts The deliberate deconstruction of destructive discourses Conclusion
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