10 SES 09 F, Research on Teacher Induction and Early Career Teachers
Approximately one third of people currently living in Australia were born overseas and approximately 21% of the Australian population speak a language other than English at home. Over one half of this immigrant population reside in the state of Queensland, the context for this study. Teachers are required to be inclusive educators who cater for the needs of all learners in their classrooms. However, there is evidence that some teachers have received little or inadequate training to work with diverse learners or may perceive that they do not have the capabilities to do so (Kaikkonen, 2010; Kraska & Boyle, 2014; Rose, 2010). These teachers, as a consequence, see too many barriers to their engaging effectively with diverse learners which, in turn hinders their approach to working with these students. Teachers with positive attitudes about inclusive education are more willing to accept diversity allowing students who may be marginalised greater opportunities to participate and gain membership in the class. While much literature in the area of teaching diversity has focused on the learning needs of students, the focus in this paper considers the perceptions of teachers in their first years of teaching who are working in culturally diverse classroom settings. Our overarching research question was: how do beginning teachers imagine themselves as culturally responsive teachers? And our research sub-question was, how are beginning teachers’ beliefs and ideologies about teaching a diverse range of student learners challenged and refined during their early years of teaching?
Culturally responsive teaching involves teachers making use of students’ cultural knowledge, prior learning, prior experiences and performance styles to make learning more relevant and effective (Gay, 2010). Teachers must be willing to adapt curriculum to be culturally relevant for their students, demonstrate and create a culture of caring for all students in their classroom, have some knowledge and/or experience of cross-cultural communication or be willing to develop these skills, and use culturally congruent instructional practices. The concept of culturally responsive teaching goes beyond employing ethnically tokenistic inclusive practices.
Siwatu (2011) and Bodur (2016) suggest that, if teachers are to develop as culturally responsive practitioners, then more explicit description of culturally responsive teaching needs to be embedded in teacher education programs. While completing coursework assignments provides preservice teachers with good background information for considering the process of teaching culturally diverse students, first-hand experiences provide a greater understanding of how the process is enacted. It is therefore proposed that preservice teachers need to be exposed to culturally diverse classrooms in their professional experience placements in schools throughout their teacher education programs. Garmon’s (2005) research identified six key factors needed in preparing preservice teachers to become culturally responsive teachers. These key factors include openness (being receptive to others’ ideas and to diversity), self-awareness (being self-reflective to gain insight and understanding of one’s beliefs and attitudes about diversity and how these influence one’s approach to teaching), commitment to social justice (involves the notion of equity and equality for all people in a society), having intercultural experiences (opportunities for direct contact with different cultural groups), having support group experiences (with peers, supervising teachers, lecturers, family, friends etc.) and encouraging an individual’s growth in thinking more deeply about diversity, and educational experiences (in coursework and practicum) that contribute to changes in beliefs/attitudes about diversity. The intent of this qualitative study was to explore how beginning teachers imagined themselves to be culturally responsive teachers and how their beliefs and ideologies about teaching a diverse range of student learners were challenged and refined during their early years of teaching. Garmon’s (2005) six key factors were used as the analytic framework for this study.
This qualitative study was conducted in a large school (n~2300 students) in a low socio-economic area of south-east Queensland, Australia. Ethical clearance and permission to conduct the study was received from the relevant university ethics committee and from the school. The school has a highly diverse population that includes numerous cultural backgrounds with thirty-three percent (33%) of students speaking English as an additional language or dialect (EALD). Each year the school accepts a large number of preservice teachers (n~40) for practicum. Over the years, significant numbers of these preservice teachers have been employed by the school as beginning teachers. It is these beginning teachers who are the focus of this research. The participants in this study were six beginning teachers who each had less than five years teaching experience. Three of the teachers were in their first year of teaching and three were in the second year of teaching. All six teachers had completed a professional experience placement at the school prior to graduation and their subsequent employment. All the teachers were born in Australia and were from Anglo-European backgrounds, which is fairly representative of teacher demographics in Australian schools. Data were collected via individual semi-structured interviews with each of the six teachers at the school site. Each interview was approximately 30-40 minutes long. The interviews were audio-recorded and pseudonyms were used in the transcriptions to maintain anonymity and confidentiality. The data were analysed deductively (Saldana, 2015) by the researchers using principles of thematic analysis.
Participants demonstrated evidence of Garmon’s (2005) six key factors for developing culturally responsive teachers. All participants expressed an openness and a positive self-awareness in relation to teaching diverse learners and how their prior experiences shaped and influenced their approaches to teaching diverse learners. Many of the participants described being proactive (Cummins, 2015) in selecting to do their final practicum placement in this particular school to gain experience in working with diverse learners. A strong commitment to social justice (Garmon, 2005) and a focus on creating optimum learning opportunities for individuals in their classes as well as for the whole class were evident. The beginning teachers could call on multiple people to discuss problems that arose or to discuss strategies might be the best to use with students. This kind of support aligns with the notion of using ‘roadmaps’ as described by Oyserman et al. (2004) where the participants were striving to become the best teacher they could be, using the ideas and modelled behaviours of others but having the final say of what would work best for them in their own classroom. These positive examples and support created a high sense of agency in these beginning teachers which allowed them to feel comfortable in taking risks in trying new strategies in the classroom (Hagenaur et al., 2015). Immersion in schooling environments such as the one described in this study can set up the conditions for these beginning teachers to develop identities as culturally competent teachers. However, the participants in our study also identified that their teacher education course did little to prepare them for working with diverse learners. We ponder how further opportunities within school and university environments can be provided to encourage teachers’ growth in thinking more deeply about diversity that contribute to changes in beliefs/attitudes about diversity.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017). 2016 Census: Multicultural. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/Media%20Release3 Bodur, Y. (2016). Is cultural responsiveness part of effective teaching? Preservice teacher perspectives. Georgia Educational Researcher, 13(1), 112-133, DOI: 10.20429/ger.2016.130105 Cummins, J. (2015). Identities in motion: Rethinking teacher-student identity negotiation in multilingual school contexts. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 38(3), 99-105. DOI: 10.1075/aral383.01cum Garmon, M. A. (2005). Six key factors for changing preservice teachers’ attitudes/beliefs about diversity. Educational Studies, 38(3), 275-286, DOI: 10.1207/s15326993es3803 Gay, G. (2010). Acting on beliefs in teacher education for cultural diversity. Journal of Teacher Education, 61, 143-152, DOI: 10.1177/0022248109347320 Hagenaur, G., Hascher, T., & Volet, S. E. (2015). Teacher emotions in the classroom: Associations with students’ engagement, classroom discipline and the interpersonal teacher-student relationship. Journal of Psychological Education, 30,385-403 DOI: 10.1007/s10212-015-0250-0 Kaikkonen, L. (2010). Promoting teacher development for diversity. In R. Rose (Ed.), Confronting obstacles to Inclusion. International responses to developing inclusive education (pp. 171-183). NY: Routledge. Kraska, J. & Boyle, C. (2014). Attitudes of preschool and primary school pre-service teachers towards inclusive education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 42(3), 228-246. Miller, K., & Shifflet, R. (2016). How memories of school inform preservice teachers’ feared and desired selves as teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 53, 20-29, DOI: 10.1016.j.tate.2015.10.002 Oyserman, D., Bybee, D., Terry, K., & Hart-Johnson, T. (2004). Possible selves as roadmaps. Journal of Research in Personality, 38, 130-1490, DOI: 10.1016/S0092-6566(03)00057-6 Rose, R. (Ed.) (2010). Confronting obstacles to inclusion: International responses to developing inclusive education. New York: Routledge. Saldaña, J. (2015). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Siwatu, K. O. (2011). Preservice teachers’ culturally responsive teaching self-efficacy-forming experiences: a mixed methods study. The Journal of Educational Research, 104, 360-369, DOI: 10.1080/00220671.2010.487081 Walter, J. S. (2018). Global perspectives: making the shift from multiculturalism to culturally responsive teaching. General Music Today, 31(2), 24-28, DOI: 10.1177/1048371317720262
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