20 SES 09, Bringing You Inspiring Practice For Inclusive Education: Teaching diverse learners in (school)subjects / TdiverS (Part 1)
Symposium to be continued in 20 SES 10 A
The legislation on education in Iceland 2008 emphasised inclusive education at all school levels. Built on the legislation a new national curriculum for three levels of school came into effect in 2011 and is based on six fundamental pillars of literacy in the widest sense, education for sustainability, education for democracy and citizenship, education for equality, creativity and health (Mennta- og Menningamálaráðuneytið, 2011). For teachers it is a continuous search for pedagogy and approaches to meet diversity in inclusive schools. Ideas of inclusion assume that every student has equitable access to education and that schools organize learning spaces that accommodate everyone in the spirit of universal design. Teachers are the key to developing inclusive practices and pedagogies in dealing with heterogeneous classes, because they are the ones who decide and choose the learning environment where students are meant to learn and work within the structures of the school system (Ainscow, 2008; Meijer, 2003). The practice of teaching diverse groups of pupils is grounded in pedagogy that integrates professional knowledge about teaching, learning and child development, and involves an ethical and social commitment to children (Guðjónsdóttir, 2000). Inspiring teaching practices promote inclusion, honour diversity, cultures and ethnic experiences, and build the learning environment on the different contributions and identities of each student. The teachers understand the experiences and perspectives their students bring to the educational settings and respond to the diversity in the group as they design the curriculum, learning activities, classroom climate, instructional materials, teaching techniques and assessment procedures (Gay & Kirkland, 2003). Methods The study was qualitative and conducted in collaboration with teachers. Data was collected through reiterated cycles of participant observation and interviews. Six schoolteachers were purposefully chosen to participate. Data was collected by note taking, photographing and videotaping the practice. Four focus group meetings were held and each teacher wrote a narrative and collected pictures and videos. The analytical process took place through the research period using qualitative procedures of content analysis, coding and constant comparison (Wolcott, 2005). Results The findings indicate that teachers’ beliefs and openness towards diverse students are important for supporting learning for all students. It further indicates that teachers who in their planning and teaching use innovative strategies, build on students’ resources, and give students opportunities to set their goals and make choices, are more likely to create learning spaces for diverse groups of students that are satisfied and can improve their learning.
Ainscow, M. (2008). Teaching for diversity: The next big challenge. In F. M. Connelly, M. F. He, & J. A. Phillion (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. London: SAGE Publications. Gay, G., & Kirkland, K. (2003). Developing cultural critical consciousness and self-reflection in preservice teacher education. Theory into Practice, 42(3), 181-187. Guðjónsdóttir, H. (2000). Responsive professional practice: Teachers analyze the theoretical and ethical dimensions of their work in diverse classrooms. Unpublished dissertation. University of Oregon. Eugene. Meijer, C. J. W. (Ed.) (2003). Inclusive education and classroom practices. Odnese: Europen agency for development in special needs education. Mennta- og Menningamálaráðuneytið. (2011). Aðalnámskrá grunnskóla. Retrieved from http://www.menntamalaraduneyti.is/utgefid-efni/namskrar/nr/3953. Wolcott, H. (2005). The art of fieldwork (2nd ed.). Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.
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