04 SES 04 B, Preparing Teachers for Inclusive Classrooms: Opportunities and challenges
Teacher education and sustainability: developing practicum tasks to resist disparity discourses in pursuit of inclusive classrooms for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
Dr Deborah Robinson, Director of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, Institute of Education, University of Derby.
Keywords Teacher education, research orientation, partnership, inclusion, special educational needs
In a context where there are long standing, Europe wide concerns about the efficacy of pre-service teacher education in preparing teachers for inclusive practice for learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in mainstream schools, this paper reports on the findings of research which explored the key question ‘What models and pedagogic frameworks are effective in developing skilled, confident and effective teachers who can successfully include learners with special educational needs (SEN) within mainstream classrooms?
A key objective of this research was to construct a professional learning community comprising University tutors, pre-service teachers, serving teachers and teaching assistants within a large mainstream primary school. This learning community was constructed and managed to reflect the evidence and hypotheses in the literature about the principles and practices most likely to be efficacious.
Within the context of an Action Research Project built upon these principles, a highly nuanced professional learning activity was designed for pre-service teachers to complete during their practicum named ‘Personalising Learning Planning’ in collaboration with participating teachers and teaching assistants. Further, there were careful and deliberate efforst to include teaching assistants:
- Within the professional learning community
- As collaborators in the ‘Personalised Learning Planning’ task
- As mentors to pre-service teachers in the development of inclusive practice.
This paper reports on the impact of these activities and its purpose is to inform teacher educators and policymakers about pedagogic design for effective inclusive teacher education. It offers an account of Research Oriented Clinical Enquiry (ROCE) (Burns and Mutton, 2013) as a route to efficacious professional learning which in turn can lead to sustainable inclusive reform in mainstream schools.
That inclusive education is a global priority for development has been confirmed
in the World Education Forum’s Incheon Declaration
2030 where UNESCO‘s sustainable development goal to, ‘Ensure inclusive and
equitable quality education and promote life-long learning for all’ (UNESCO,
2015, para 5) is developed to include a framework for action that places
particular emphasis on gender and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
Founded on McIntyre (2009) and broader evidence and hypotheses emerging from the literature (see Table 1), the study involved 22 participants (preservice teachers, teachers and teaching assistants, a research facilitator/university tutor) and used inclusive action research (O'Hanlon, 2003) as a means of structuring the collaborative activities of the participating group over a period of 22 months. This approach adopts the principles common to other critical-theoretical action research but centres its activity on promulgating inclusive practice through adopting democratic, just and equal forms of professional collaboration. Hence, it emulated the structured, systematic and collegiate model proposed by the literature whilst being situated within the social justice paradigm. It took place in one of the largest primary schools in England, well regarded locally for its commitment to inclusive education and was formed around a professional learning community engaged in the development of improved inclusive practices. This school had worked in partnership with the university in its teacher education programmes for ten years, hosting several student teachers every year for the practicum. Given concerns about the limited transferability of action research (Jarvis, 1991) additional methods were employed. These included a field-work journal (for the collection of incidental data outside the specific project actions), reflective conversations with the participants during and after the project and reflective summaries written by participants (for more detail see Robinson, 2017). These supported the identification of the wider conditions, processes and activities that were relevant to the participants’ professional development in inclusive practice in ways that inform the international call for more efficacious curricula and pedagogies for teacher development. This model shifted the ‘learning action’ into the school and situated the university tutor into the practicum where pre-service and in-service professional development were networked to support the professional learning of a community in ways that promulgated a practice into theory approach. In this way, it represented an innovative and transformed model of teacher education for inclusion as promoted by McIntyre (2009).
In the context of a collaborative, professional learning community, disparity discourses and inclusion phobia can be resisted through the design of carefully nuanced and constructed practicum tasks.
References Argyropoulos, V., & Nikolaraizi, M. (2009). Developing inclusive practices through collaborative action research. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 24(2), 139-153. Sin, K. F., & Law, S. Y. (2012). The construction of an institute-school-community partnership in teacher education for inclusion. In C. Forlin (Ed.), Future directions for inclusive teacher education (pp. 203-211). London: Routledge. Waitoller, F. and Artiles, A. (2013). A decade of professional development research for inclusive education: A critical review and notes for a research programme. Review of Educational Research, 83(3), 319-356. Burns, K., & Mutton, T. (2014). Research and teacher education: The BERA RSA enquiry: Review of 'Research informed clinical practice' in initial teacher education. (Enquiry Paper 4). London: BERA and RSA. British Educational Research Association (BERA) and the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) (2013) Research and Teacher Education: The BERA RSA enquiry: The contribution of educational research to teachers' professional learning - philosophical understandings. London: BERA RSA. Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Constructing 21st-century teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 300-314. Lancaster, J., & Bain, A. (2007). The design of inclusive education courses and the self-efficacy of pre-service teacher education students. International Journal of Disability, Development & Education, 54(2), 245-256. Korthagen, F., Loughran, J., & Russell, T. (2006). Developing fundamental principles for teacher education programs and practices. Teaching & Teacher Education, 22(8), 1020-1041. McLeskey, J., & Ross, D. D. (2004). The politics of teacher education in the new millennium: Implications for special education teacher educators. Teacher Education & Special Education, 27(4), 342-349. McIntyre, D. (2009). The difficulties of inclusive pedagogy for initial teacher education and some thoughts on the way forward
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