01 SES 11 C, Collaborative Teaching and Professional Learning Communities
The study puts its emphasis on the implementation of collaborative teaching among professionals having different career tracks (e.g. special educators and general educators) and possibly further persons (i.e. paraprofessionals) within the context of realizing inclusion at schools. We refer to an understanding of inclusion that goes far beyond a mere placement of pupils with disabilities in general education classrooms and underlines instead meeting the social and/or academic needs of all pupils as well as the creation of communities with specific characteristics (Göransson/Nilholm 2014). According to West/Fenstermaker (1995) who conceive ‚difference‘ as a product of social interaction and use the term ‚doing difference‘ for that process, it can be assumed that each instructional action or event of instruction both constitutes a kind of difference and tries to handle it (Göhlich/Reh/Tervooren 2013). We are interested in analyzing how ‚doing difference‘ finds its expression in the implementation of collaborative teaching among professionals at inclusive schools. The process of bringing together heterogeneous attitudes and competence is considered to be central for collaboration (Willmann 2009).
Metatheoretically, we refer to
a. the systems theory approach according to Luhmann (1994) pointing out that various social requirements in inclusion cannot be just delegated to schools. Instead, they have to be transformed into the specific rationality of a school’s organizational system. For dealing with inclusion, social systems like schools fall back upon organizational prerequisites such as staff, different forms of communication and different programmes (Luhmann 2000). Also interactional systems (Luhmann 1975/2011) like collaboration play an important role. Luhmann’s approach stresses the bounds of a specific form of system’s rationality each professional is engaged in.
b. the approach of recontextualisation according to Fend (2006). He underlines the existence of so called 'degrees of freedom' which allow the persons involved in collaborative teaching to recontextualize the demands of their environment. Recontextualisation is considered to be a form of individual accomplishment.
Foci of our study:
First, we analyze the professionals‘ common or partial understanding of their work and professional role within inclusive classrooms. Literature shows that special educators do not have sufficient ways to use and apply their expertise in co-taught situations and it doesn’t seem to be clear who takes over which role (Gerber/Popp 2000; Kreis et al. 2014; Pool Maag/Moser Opitz 2014; Scruggs et al. 2007; Weiss/Lloyd 2002).
Second, we concentrate on the ways of how pupils are pedagogically addressed in inclusive classroom, i.e. which modes of differentiation are used in order to be able to perceive pupils (and not only their performance) more discriminately. The question is then how each mode of differentiation is reflected in the individual addressing of a pupil (cf. Emmerich 2016). It hasn’t been yet explored in what way the exclusion of selection and the exclusion of exclusion (e.g. not to be addressed as a weak performer) are accompanied by each other.
Both foci throw light on the question in what way school professionals are doing difference when implementing collaborative teaching in the context of inclusive settings, both referred to the interaction between professionals and to the interaction between professionals and pupils (network 4). We intend to contribute to the discourse on teacher professional development and school/organisation development in order to enhance knowledge for programmes of teacher training, e.g. with regard to the challenges of collaborative work.
1. In what way are school professionals ‚doing difference‘ when implementing collaboration in the context of inclusive classrooms? 1.1 In what way is ‚doing difference‘ reflected in the common or partial professional understanding of their work? 1.2 In what way is ‚doing difference‘ reflected in the ways of how pupils are pedagogically addressed?
As we explore a social dimension that hasn’t been yet analyzed sufficiently, we think a qualitative-reconstructive design to be an adequate approach. The focus will be both on individual perspectives of professionals and on the reconstruction of processes constituting social interaction (Patton 2002). Research shows that the implementation of collaborative teaching within the context of inclusion tends to be much more complex at secondary schools than at primary schools (Schwab/Gebhardt/Krammer 2015). That’s why data are collected at German secondary schools. Pre-study The aim of our pre-study is to generate field knowledge as to how collaborative teaching is implemented at different secondary schools. On the basis of a set of school statistics, three kinds of German secondary schools are chosen which each have the highest proportion of pupils in inclusive classrooms. For each kind of school two semi-structured expert interviews (Meuser/Nagel 2005) are conducted to gain insight into the modes of collaborative teaching (interview duration: between 45 and 60 minutes). Our semi-structured interviews comprise two high-level themes and a number of associated sub-themes: High-level theme 1: Modes of collaborative teaching at schools with inclusive classrooms 1.1 School professionals‘ common or partial understanding of their work, e.g. 1.1.1 How do professionals engaged in collaborative teaching co-ordinate their expertise? 1.1.2 (Why) Do they change their instructional roles? 1.2 Providing support for pupils with special needs, e.g. 1.2.1 Where do professionals get orientation from when co-ordinating instructional delivery? High-level theme 2: School’s inherent system specific rationality 2.1 Establishing and maintaining collaborative teaching, e.g. 2.1.1 How is collaborative teaching organizationally maintained? 2.2 Objectives of collaborative teaching, e.g. 2.2.1 Which aims do professionals strive for when collaborating? 2.3 Factors facilitating collaborative teaching 2.4 Factors impeding collaborative teaching For the interpretation of our data the method of qualitative content analysis (techniques: summarizing and structuring) is employed (Mayring 2015). Main study (data collection hasn’t been completed yet) It is based upon six case studies at six different schools. A „case“ is being conceptualized as the implementation of collaborative teaching within an inclusive classroom whereby the perspectives of professionals, parents and pupils are related to each other. Sources of data collection: - Observations in inclusive classrooms (n=6) followed by pair interviews or group discussions, depending upon the number of professionals (data interpretation: documentary method), - semi-structured one-on-one interviews with parents (n=6) and - narrative one-on-one interviews with pupils in inclusive classrooms (n=6) (data interpretation: qualitative content analysis for both).
According to our metatheoretical framing, the implementation of collaborative teaching and the question of doing difference are situated within the poles of school’s inherent system specific rationality and forms of recontextualisation. This means that e.g. the identification of pupils with special needs and the provision of what is considered to be an adequate support in each case is not only dependent upon pedagogical planning and a range of instructional options going along with that, but has also to bear in mind organizational ressources and intentions. We assume that school professionals working collaboratively act within this context. Our expected outcomes refer to the following aspects: a. professional understanding of collaborative work: The findings of the pre-study indicate that special educators do not always have a clearly defined status in inclusive classrooms when collaborating with general educators. This is quite surprising because instructional actions referring to pupils with special needs are located within the special educators‘ responsibility. This means, doing difference among professionals becomes apparent on the level of constructing one’s role in the classroom. b. pedagogical addressing of pupils: The findings of the pre-study indicate that there are diverging positions among professionals as to the question of how to meet best the requirements of pupils with special needs. Very often it is the special educator’s task to assist pupils at their desk while the general educator proceeds with instruction. This leads to different or inconsistent forms of addressing pupils, because at the same time they are noticed as being in need of support (and therefore addressed separately) and addressed as part of the regular classroom context. Doing difference in this case becomes apparent on the level of deciding on the provision of extra support.
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