01 SES 13 C, Teachers' Early Start: Professional Development Perspectives
The adoption of an inclusive approach in mainstreaming schools has led to an International commitment for the implementation of inclusive educational and teaching practices to foster the full participation and the development of all students. Legislation, training, resources, and especially teachers are the main aspects of this process (Adoniou, 2013; Darling-Hammond, 2012). As stated by Richard Riley, former U.S. secretary of education: «…the most critical investment we can make is in well-qualified, caring, and committed teachers. Without good teachers to implement them, no educational reforms will succeed at helping all students learn to their full potential» (in Stronge, Ward, Grant, 2011). In 2014, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published an international survey to investigate teachers’ perspective on teaching and learning. The study has shown that many teachers (22%) report a high level of need for professional development to develop skills and be trained to teach to students with special educational needs (BES), in Italy the percentage is about 32.3% compared to the other Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) countries. It also emerged that in the Italian context teachers report low rates of mentoring to other colleagues and of participation in some professional development activities in the 12 months prior to the survey (as mentoring and/or peer observation and coaching; participation in a network of teachers formed specifically for the professional development of teachers; individual or collaborative research; courses/workshops; education conferences or seminars; observation visits to other schools, etc.). Higher level of attendance is only on the training courses (50%) or seminar activities (31%) attendance. Because of this, several scholars have been focusing their researches on implementing Evidence Based Practices in special and inclusive schools. The aim is that of collaborating with teachers to implement practices, teachers feel useful to answer to all pupils’ educational needs. In the Italian context this is a perspective that is slowly establishing itself. In fact, in Italy there has been a growing interest in Evidence Based Practices (EBP) and Evidence Based Education (EBE) in recent years, to foster a dialogue between research and practice and the adoption of educational research results to promote professional development and teaching practices (Cottini, Morganti, 2015; Calvani, 2012; Calvani, Vivanet, 2014) The Department of Humanities, Philosophy and Education of the University of Salerno began a research project in order to investigate the possibility of implementing the Group-based Early Start Denver Model (G-ESDM; Vivanti, et al., 2017) in Italian preschool using the Active Implementation Framework (Fixsen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, 2005). The G-ESDM is the group implementation of the Early Start Denver Model, an early intervention EBP for prescholers with ASD that could be defined as idiosyncratic (Wong et al., 2015). In fact, it adopts the principles and practices of different EBP including: Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Naturalistic Approach. It is used to promote the full development and participation of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the school context thanks to the teachers who leads personalized activities in small groups or in large groups through the collaboration of other adults (teachers, instructional assistants) that support invisibly the student with ASD in actively participate into the activities with and among the peers. The implementation of this method has first to consider teachers’ perspective and organizational needs. This paper will show data collected related to the teachers’ perspective on professional development activities they consider important for the implementation of the G-ESDM in their classrooms.
The Active Implementation framework proposed by Fixen and colleagues (Fixen et al., 2005) points out seven core implementation components that support both the purveyors and practitioner (the teachers in this research) to adapt and adopt the EBP with fidelity. These components are strictly connected and necessary to the effectiveness of the intervention, these are: staff selection, preservice and in-service training, ongoing coaching and consultation, staff evaluation, decision support data systems, facilitative administrative support, and systems interventions. The staff selection criteria were defined during the first phase of the research, practitioners needed to have a teaching qualification or/and a specialization on teaching to students with disabilities; they had to teach in inclusive preschools. According this premise, the sample of this research involves twenty-three teachers of a school in the province of Salerno. The next step was that of defining preservice and in-service training content and procedure. Preservice training was focused on providing to the teachers G-ESDM theory and practices with a theoretical lesson. Then, the Questionnaire to explore teachers’ training needs was used in order to investigate the training needs of teachers related to ASD and teaching methodologies, about their opinion on G-ESDM and their perspective on professional development activities. The Professional development activities section it’s composed by 8 items. Teachers were asked to indicate their opinions for each activity (coaching, theoretical lessons, theoretical lessons and discussion on specific topic, theoretical lessons and multimedia, reverse role, role-play ) using a five-point scale ranging from 0 (not relevant) to 4 (essential). The Professional development activities on G-ESDM section it’s composed by 16 items. Teachers were asked to answer to yes/no questions about their needs on: theoretical lessons on G-ESDM, meetings with G-ESDM experts and/or with colleagues, coaching, teamwork on planning activities, discussion, feedback on G-ESDM during the practice, self-assessment, video-analysis to assess their practices by themselves or colleagues/experts, etc. The Readiness for professional development activities section it’s composed by 5 items. Multiple choice questions were submitted to investigate teachers’ readiness on professional developmental activities during their day’s work. All collected data were examined with a descriptive statistic method.
The purpose of the study was to investigate teachers’ perspective on professional development activities and their readiness. The analysis of data shows extremely positive opinions related to professional development activities 52% of teachers consider essential simulation exercises/practice lessons, role reversal, and 39% of teachers agree on considering traineeship with or without direct feedback from the expert but the others think it is essential. Extremely positive scores on coaching by experts (47% both essential and very useful) and 4% agree it is quite useful. Professional development activities on G-ESDM data are in part in accordance to previous data: 74% of teachers thinks that they don’t prefer theoretical lessons on G-ESDM . The 17% of teachers don’t prefer on-line training and 13% don’t like to receive materials using on-line platform, 95% of the sample wants to get it as papers. All teachers agree on receiving coaching and feedback on their G-ESDM practices and having meeting previous established. All the sample is available to video-analyse their practices. All agree about the other item (between 91-95%). Considering the statistical median of teachers’ readiness, the teachers’ training programme will be articulated in 2 h par week for two days monthly training on G-ESDM; 2 h of coaching par week; 1 h of meeting involving both teachers and experts for discussions. 3 out 23 teachers of the sample gave no preferences about their readiness for weekly involvement in G-ESDM lessons. Next step will be focused on comparing the data of all three sections of the teachers’ professional development activities to articulate a specific training plan. All teachers’ training needs emerged from the analysis of the entire questionnaire will guide the researchers involved in the project on planning and structuring the training plan according to their needs that will be shared and discuss with teachers before its adoption.
Adoniou, M. (2013). Preparing teachers: The importance of connecting contexts in teacher education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(8), 47-60, http://dx.doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2013v38n8.7. Calvani, A., & Vivanet, G. (2014). Evidence Based Education e modelli di valutazione formativa per le scuole. Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS Journal), 1(9), 127-146. Calvani A. (2012). Per un’istruzione evidence based. Trento: Erickson Cottini, L., & Morganti, A. (2015). Evidence-based education e pedagogia speciale: principi e modelli per l'inclusione. Carocci. Darling-Hammond, L. (2012). Powerful teacher education: Lessons from exemplary programs. John Wiley & Sons. DeAngelis, K. J., & Presley, J. B. (2011). Toward a more nuanced understanding of new teacher attrition. Education and Urban Society, 43(5), 598–628, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0013124510380724. Fixsen, D. L., Naoom, S. F., Blase, K. A., & Friedman, R. M. (2005). Implementation research: a synthesis of the literature. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2013) Resource published on: http://www.oecd.org/education/school/talis-2013-results.htm Stronge, J. H., Ward, T. J., & Grant, L. W. (2011). What makes good teachers good? A cross-case analysis of the connection between teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Journal of teacher Education, 62(4), 339-355. Vivanti, G., Zierhut, C., Dawson, G., & Rogers, S. J. (2017). The Group-Based Early Start Denver Model: Origins, Principles, and Strategies. In Implementing the Group-Based Early Start Denver Model for Preschoolers with Autism (pp. 13-30). Springer, Cham. Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K. A., Cox, A. W., Fettig, A., Kucharczyk, S., ... & Schultz, T. R. (2015). Evidence-based practices for children, youth, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder: A comprehensive review. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 45(7), 1951-1966.
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