10 SES 09 B, Increasing Diversity within Schools: Pedagogy, values and teacher learning
Teacher education is high on the agenda for many countries around the world given the public scrutiny of student outcomes on the world stage. It is now widely accepted that quality teaching has a significant effect on student outcomes and on the productivity of a nation in the global knowledge economy (Ell, Haigh, Cochran-Smith, Grudnoff, Ludlow & Hill, 2017). The increasing complexity of teaching diverse groups means that predetermined technical skills and passed-down experiential knowledge may be insufficient for the intelligent problem-solving that is required for most contemporary teaching contexts (Willegems, Consuegra, Struyven, & Engels, 2017). Preparation of teachers who have deep understandings about quality teaching and diversity and how these concepts inform one another in practice is crucial. Surprisingly little is known about how well-equipped teacher educators are to support the development of future teachers’ knowledge and understandings in these recognised areas of national and international significance (Cochran-Smith, Shakman, Jong, Terrell, Barnatt & McQuillan, 2009; Francis, Mills & Lupton, 2017).
According to Rowan, Mayer & Kline (2017), Australian graduate teachers feel under-prepared to work with the full range of learners who comprise the contemporary school classroom. Their research showed that, relative to other dimensions of their work, Australian graduate teachers felt less prepared to work with students from culturally, linguistically and economically diverse backgrounds, students with a disability and those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families (Mayer, Dixon, Kline, Kostogriz, Moss, Rowan, Walker-Gibbs & White, 2017). Internationally, ideas about equity and justice in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) are inconsistent and shifting (Cochran-Smith, Ell, Grudnoff, Haigh, Hill & Ludlow, 2016). Sustained reform agendas in ITE have not solved this issue of teacher preparation for teaching to diversity.
The seemingly intractable nature of student under achievement makes it important to understand the conditions that may work to enable or constrain teacher educators in preparing future teachers to teach to diversity. This paper uses Margaret Archer’s (2007) critical realist social theory of reflexivity to explain the concept of emergent properties that work to enable or constrain teacher educators in their deliberations and practices in preparing classroom ready teachers. Archer’s (2007) reflexivity theory provides a way to examine the deliberations and decision-making that teacher educators undertake within the emergent conditions of education and teacher education. Epistemic cognition offers an additional dimension to this examination by theorising teacher educators’ ways of knowing and flexibility to create new professional knowledge to deal with intractable issues (Markauskaite & Goodyear, 2017). Teaching to and teaching about diverse students is one such issue in which complex conditions are ever emerging.
For Archer (2007), the interplay and interconnection between individuals and social structures is crucial to understand courses of action produced by subjects through reflexive deliberation. This interplay between humans and society is constituted by the emergence of human properties and powers in relation to society’s properties and powers. Thus, Archer suggests three distinct, yet related, emergent properties that contribute to our being human in the world. These emergent properties are personal, structural and cultural. Personal emergent properties (PEPs) relate to personal identity: emotions, beliefs, worldviews, efficacy and capabilities. Structural emergent properties (SEPs) are orders of society: systems, practices, resources and language. Cultural emergent properties (CEPs) are the prevailing beliefs, norms, ideologies and expectations of a societal group. Each of these properties is always emerging in relation to the others and can be experienced as enabling or constraining.
- What new insights can teacher educators co-construct in their reflexive epistemologies about diversity?
- What are teacher educators’ accounts of how they enact these reflexive epistemologies when teaching pre-service teachers (PSTs)?
The study explored how 12 teacher educators from a metropolitan university in Australia experienced the personal, structural and cultural emergent properties of Initial Teacher Education as enabling or constraining. Social lab methodology According to McKenzie (2015) social labs can be used as a method to bring together diverse stakeholders in order to prompt new insights and co-constructed solutions to complex problems. Addressing diversity in education is one such complex problem so the social lab methodology was appropriate to gain insight about diversity from multiple perspectives. In a social lab the emphasis is on dialogue, active listening, cross pollination and interchange of ideas as well as proposing and prototyping of solutions. The 3-hour social lab commenced with background explanations and dialogic ‘warm-ups’ and ‘ice-breakers’. Participants were then introduced to a framework for epistemic reflexivity in teacher education (Authors, 2016). From this basis participants were asked to work through a process of reflexivity – discernment, deliberation and dedication - while considering key epistemic questions about teaching to diversity. Key questions in the social lab included what are the expectations in ITE around teaching diverse learners and what specific pedagogies and their underlying values are effective in teaching to diversity? A deliberately collegial and collaborative structure was fostered, with individual, small and whole group contributions to the data collected. The social lab was audio recorded and transcribed. The transcription, of over 600 lines of dialogue, was de-identified prior to analysis. Data analysis and credibility Group based data analysis took place online over three sessions, where we followed the guidelines of thematic analysis from Braun and Clarke (2006) as a methodologically reliable and rigorous approach. It is flexible yet deliberate, allowing complex thoughts to emerge from the data as rich, detailed accounts. Initially, we looked for patterns in the data, where, from a constant viewing and reviewing of the entire data set, twelve broad categories were revealed. A second data analysis session used an iterative process to reclassify the broad categories into the themes that emerged from the data. The third session was an interpretative analysis, conducted both online and independently to note and number relevant data as evidence of each of the major themes. Cross-referencing ensured comparability of evidence, and discussion allowed us to rework and refine the themes.
The teacher educators in this study experienced constraining properties related to a reliance on experiential knowledge and personal histories to address student diversity (PEP); short contact time with PSTs, a lack of control over assessment tasks and timetabling, a lack of institutional memory from one unit coordinator to another (SEPs); a lack of diversity in ITE cohorts and narrow views regarding what is meant by the concept of diversity (CEPs). They also experienced enabling discourses of theorising their own beliefs or standpoints, strong capabilities in disrupting students’ preconceived beliefs, valuing collaborative learning opportunities (PEPs); normalised practices of reflexivity (SEP); and prevailing beliefs about the social constructedness and complexity of knowledge whereby it can be challenged and interrogated (CEP). These data indicate that teacher educators might be regarded as well-intentioned professionals who advocate critical inquiry and reflective practice. However, they also demonstrate narrow understandings of diversity and rely heavily on their past experiences to prepare PSTs for diversity in future classrooms. Structural constraints seem most prevalent in these accounts. There is little talk about engagement with the profession and with the community around issues of diversity. A lack of time and a sense of little control over highly regulated programs were key issues for these participants. Cultural properties that emerged included hierarchies of knowledge and misunderstandings between teacher educators, teachers and policy makers about their roles in enabling successful educational outcomes. The revival of the technical view of teaching has not resulted in increased equity in our schools nor in improved short and long term outcomes. This approach does not require PSTs to develop a holistic understanding of teaching for democracy and diversity and it de-emphasises the intellectual and relational aspects of teaching (Cochran-Smith, 2016). Teacher education must prioritise research-based solutions to entrenched issues of inequity and homogenised teaching.
Archer, M. (2007). Making our way though the world: Human reflexivity and social mobility. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cochran-Smith, M., Ell, F., Grudnoff, L., Haigh, M., Hill, M. & Ludlow, L. (2016). Initial teacher education: What does it take to put equity at the center? Teaching and Teacher Education. 57(1): 67-78. Cochran-Smith, M., Shakman, K., Jong, C., Terrell, D. G., Barnatt, J., & McQuillan, P. (2009). Good & just teaching: the case for social justice in teacher education. American Journal of Teacher Education, 115(3), 347-377. Ell, F., Haigh, M., Cochran-Smith, M., Grudnoff, L., Ludlow, L. & Hill, M. (2017) Mapping a complex system: what influences teacher learning during initial teacher education?. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 45(4): 327-345. Francis, B., Mills, M., & Lupton, R. (2017). Towards social justice in education: contradictions & dilemmas. Journal of Education Policy. Markauskaite, L. & Goodyear, P. (2017). Epistemic fluency & professional education. Dordrecht: Springer. Mayer, D., Dixon, M. Kline, J., Kostogriz, A., Moss, J., Rowan, L. Walker-Gibbs, B. White, S. (2017). Studying the Effectiveness of Teacher Education. Springer. Dordrecht, The Netherlands Rowan, L., Kline, J., & Mayer, D. (2017). Early Career Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Preparedness To Teach “Diverse Learners”: Insights From An Australian Research Project. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 42(10). Willegems, V., Consuegra, E., Struyven, K. & Engels, N. (2017). Teachers and pre-service teachers as partners in collaborative teacher research: A systematic literature review. Teaching and Teacher Education. 64 (3): 230-245.
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