01 SES 09 B, Reflection: An intergral part of professional learning?
Given that Canada declares itself to be a multicultural society which not only tolerates but officially encourages the practice and celebration of diversity, it is reasonable to assume that recruiters of teachers for work in publicly funded schools would seek teachers who represent Canadian social diversities. We posit that in the Canadian and European context, multicultural education and perspectives and inclusion/exclusion, are not simply demographic questions; they are vitally important issues of social justice, moral equality, and relations of power within our liberal democratic nations. In our project, we address questions about diversity and inclusion in education by exploring more deeply what Canadian in-service teachers with diverse identities and abilities say about their entry-to-the-profession experiences. In our proposed presentation, we will tackle the question: What are the tensions, paradoxes and challenges in attracting, retaining and sustaining educators who represent diverse identities and abilities?
By addressing this question, we think our findings will provide insights into issues surrounding efforts to attract, support and sustain a more diverse teaching force as well as providing insights into the implications of these for teacher education.
There are several important arguments that support diversification of the teaching force including, for example: (1) diverse teachers representing diverse identities and abilities serve as role models for all students; (2) teachers representing diverse identities and abilities can improve the academic outcomes and school experiences of students with diverse identities and abilities; and (3) the workforce rationale, which stipulates in part that “recruiting and preparing more people of color for the teaching profession has the potential to not only expand the overall supply of teachers for the most demanding and difficult-to-staff schools, but also alleviate the high rate of attrition in those settings”. (Villegas & Irvine, 2010, pp. 176 & 186)
Villegas and Irivine (2010, p. 185) point to a number of studies which indicate that teachers representing diverse ethnic and racial identities use their insider knowledge about the language, culture, and life experiences of minority students to improve their academic outcomes and school experiences, while Vogel & Sharoni (2011) claim:
The insights, knowledge, attitudes, and commitment of teachers with disabilities can make a significant contribution to the successful inclusion of these pupils [with special needs]. These teachers can play an important role in enhancing academic, social and emotional outcomes for these youngsters. (p.493)
While we do not take issue with these arguments, in gathering data from early career teacher projects, including a province-wide ‘Beginning Teacher study, we have encountered unexpected insights into the challenges faced by teachers with diverse identities and abilities.
 See as a specific example the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, 1988.
We have been and are in the process of gathering data using cross-sectional surveys of education graduates in Saskatchewan and case studies of new teachers (interviews, journals, day in the life of, focus groups, etc.). In addition to this, data has been and is continuing to be gathered through scripted individual interviews and records documenting the experiences of participants, including journal entries and other artifacts. To determine the challenges and barriers teachers with diverse identities and abilities face and the implications for teacher education, thematic analysis will be used to identify repeated patterns of meaning (Braun & Clarke, 2006) in the data. We will attempt to ensure the coding of the transcripts and the interpretations made from the codes are constructed from the raw data contained in the transcribed responses to the interview questions (Boyatzis, 1998). Data from records documenting the experiences of participants, including blog entries, skype commentaries and other artifacts, will be examined using a document analysis approach, which includes skimming, thorough reading, assessing/ interpreting, and selection of excerpts and quotations that represent emerging themes (Bowen, 2009). The themes generated though analysis of the interview transcripts and the participant documents will serve to integrate the data gathered from these different sources.
Results Our data reveals experiences of beginning teachers who have faced racism and we have learned of some who expressed fears about disclosing disabilities. This points to the apparent incongruity between efforts to recruit a more diverse teaching force and systemic conditions that impede support for increased diversity among teachers. We expect that data being gathered from internationally educated teachers, now employed in Canada, will reveal that these educators have had similar experiences. Significance of the Study Based on the voices we have heard to date, we speculate that recruitment efforts might actually work to negatively affect beginning teachers with diverse identities and abilities, setting them up to experience heightened isolation and early career struggles. We posit that sharing of such understandings will assist teacher education institutions in working with school partners toward systemic attitudinal change, as well as helping teacher education develop realistic approaches to attracting a more diverse student body and with developing programmatic elements that support teacher resilience. Our studies aims to offer recommendations to teacher educators and partners to substantially improve support for diversity among early career teachers and new teachers to our province. This research will inform current literature and practice specific to the needs of Saskatchewan and Canadian teachers, which we hope will have a positive effect on student learning in our province and country. We also think our study can contribute to the knowledge base about support for teacher diversity in urban, rural and remote locations around the world and demonstrate how school divisions and university researchers can work together to contribute to teacher diversity and learning in reciprocal, collaborative relationships.
Bowen, G.A. (2009). Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method. Qualitative Research Journal (RMIT Training Pty Ltd Trading As RMIT Publishing), 9(2), 27-40. doi:10.3316/QRJ090202. Boyatzis, R.E. (1998). Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. Rougoor, C. (2014) A qualitative study of the professional experiences of teachers with mobility challenges and their self-perceptions of professional success. Unpublished master’s thesis. Faculty of Education, Brock University St. Catharines, Ontario. Scheneider, J. & Schmidt, C., Eds. (2016) Diversifying the Teaching Force in Transnational Contexts. (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers) Valle, J.W., Solis, S., Volpitta, D. & Connor, D.J. (2004) The Disability Closet: Teachers with Learning Disabilities Evaluate the Risks and Benefits of “Coming Out”, Equity & Excellence in Education, 37(1): 4-17 Villegas, A. M. & Irvine, J.J. (2010) Diversifying the Teaching Force: An Examination of Major Arguments. The Urban Review, 42:175–192 Vogel, G. & Sharoni, V. (2011). “My success as a teacher amazes me each and every day”: Perspectives of teachers with learning disabilities. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(5): 479-495.
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.