10 SES 16 F, Research on Teacher Educators
Art.27 of the UN-Conventions of persons with disabilities states the duty to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace. This paper addresses the issue of teachers with disabilities (TWDs) and the dilemma that characterizes their working experiences in schools.
We use the term “Dilemma of professional competence” to describe the tension that connects two apparently opposite conceptual poles:on one side, the right of persons with disabilities to have reasonable accomodations in their working field and, on the other side, the social responsibility of being competent teachers that can grant high quality teaching for all learners. A teacher with disability poses the challenge of a juxtaposition between an individual right based on evaluation of personal specific differences that claims for reasonable adjustment and a standardized definition of being competent teacher.
On the individual level of teachers, research data show that the juxtaposition can be experienced as disclosure issue that on one side signs a crucial step towards self- and social acceptance, but is connected with shame and fear for discrimination. Other studies show how the awareness of strengths in being a teacher with a disability is also connected with a clear awareness of the limits that the disability produces in a the given school context.
Several articles have discussed and argued the importance of the presence of TWDs at school: they represent a model for a working adult with a disability. This is a way schools can invest in an inclusive culture that empowers differences and combat prejudices, in this case related to ableism (Storey, 2007; Anderson, 2006). Furthermore, TWDs have some potentials that may increase the teaching quality: teachers who personally experienced exclusion are more willing to teach children with all differences and feeling able to create inclusion (Burns & Bell, 2010; Dvir, 2015; Gal, Schreur & Egel-Yeger, 2010, Vogel & Sharoni, 2009).
For what the classroom level concerns, teachers that have learned compensative strategies to overcome the limits that they experience in the interaction of their disability and the context they work and live in, can be considered experts in teaching them (Andrews & Franklin, 1997). For example, teachers with learning disabilities can become models for metacognitive strategies in spelling check (Burns, Poikkeus & Aro, 2013).
On this background, the project BECOM-IN aims to investigate the “Dilemma of professional competence” in teacher education programmes for kindergarten and primary school in Italian universities, taking into account both the experiences of students with disabilities in teacher training and the discourse that emerges from schools and kindergartens where teachers work/might work. Two preliminary systematic reviews of international and national research literature will provide an analytic overview on existing data and research gaps: one focuses on student teachers with disabilities, the other on in-service TWDs. Based on these results, semi-structured interviews and an online survey to gather both qualitative and quantitative data from student teachers with disabilities and their lecturers/ mentors and professionals working in schools will be conducted.
In this paper, the results of the preliminary systematic on teachers with disabilities in schools will be presented. The preliminary systematic review regarding students with disabilities in teacher training is presented in another submitted paper.
Based on a defined synthesis protocol, it includes qualitative and quantitative studies, both peer-reviewed and not, in English and Italian language. The databases “Education Source” and “ERIC” (through EBSCO) have been used. Attempts were also made to retrieve unpublished reports (so called ‘grey literature’, including theses and dissertations, internal reports and conference communications, whenever available), so no other specific delimiters (e.g. document type) were employed in the search. For what the Italian literature concerns, a selection of high-ranking journals in the field of inclusive education (so called “fascia A-A level”) have been considered. The selection criteria for inclusion in the systematic review were empirical studies that (1) focused on teachers with any type of disability (2) working in special schools or mainstream schools in all educational level (from kindergarten to secondary schools) (3) were conducted in any countries (4) and were published or produced between 1990 and November 2018. Online databases searches yielded a total of 754 articles after entering keywords (119 in ERIC and 655 in Education Source). The research results of the studies will be systematically reviewed be means of thematic categories, highlighting emerging trends, similarities and differences.
The analysis will describe and discuss the available research results on the teachers with disabilities. This review can add new knowledge by systematically mapping, for example, teachers’ strengths and difficulties, in relation to the context's barriers and facilitators and on an individual level, and the kind of accommodations provided in schools. Differences between different school grades and different disabilities will be analyzed and discussed. Above all, the findings can contribute to understand more deeply the dilemma that arises when persons with disabilities decide to become teachers. Furthermore, in a broader perspective, the dilemma is relevant not only for teacher education, but for all professional qualifications with high social responsibility, such as health professionals and social workers. Clarifying this dilemma in relation to the competence standards required for professional training programmes has the potential to improve access to the professions for students with disabilities and ultimately access to a wider range of employment opportunities.
Anderson, R. C. (2006). Teaching (with) disability: Pedagogies of lived experience . The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 28(3-4), 367-379 . Andrews, J. F., & Franklin, T. C. (1997). Why Hire Deaf Teachers? ERIC: ED425600 . Barwood, D., Sanbrook, C., O'Rouke, J., Jones, A., & Thomas, J. (2018). Blowing a whistle, how hard can it be? An exploration of practicum experiences for a pre-service health and physical education teacher with a hearing impairment. Curriculum Studies in Health and Physical Education, 9(3), 270-285. Burns, E., & Bell, S. (2010). Voices of teachers with dyslexia in Finnish and English further and higher educational settings . Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 16(5), 529-543 . Burns E., Poikkeus A. M., Aro M., (2013), Resilience strategies employed by teachers with dyslexia working at tertiary education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 34, 77-85. Dvir N., (2015), Does physical disability effect the construction of professional identity? Narrative of student teachers with physical disabilities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 52, 56-65. Gal, E., Schreur , N., & Engel-Yeger, B. (2010). Inclusion of children with disabilities: teachers' attitudes and requirements for environmental accommodations . International Journal of Special Education , 25(2), 89-99. Storey, K. (2007) . Combating ableism in schools. Preventing school failure: Alternative education for children and youth, 52(1), 56-58 . Vogel, G., & Sharoni, V. (2009). The disability shows itself in every corner: perspectives of teachers with learning disabilities. Dapim, 48, 47-73 (Hebrew) Vogel G., Sharoni V., (2011), “My success as a teacher amazes me each and everyday” – perspectives of teachers with learning disabilities, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15 (5), 479-495.
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