04 SES 13 D, Preparing Teachers to Include All Learners with Head, Heart and Hands: An International Perspective.
In the field of inclusive education, research has sought to understand the many factors, namely teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, efficacy and various contextual variables, that could explain teacher willingness to adopt inclusive strategies in their teaching practice (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; De Boer, Pijl, & Minnaert, 2011). To date, bridging the gap between theory and practice has proven to be a difficult and complex process in preparing pre-service teachers to become better equipped to teach all learners, not only students with a disability. This study utilised a framework developed by Umesh Sharma, ‘Head, Hearts and Hands’, which aims to reduce this gap in the context of teacher training in inclusive education. The ‘Head, Hearts and Hands’ framework promotes the need for close partnerships between university and schools to reduce the gaps between theory and practice. The model promotes co-teaching partnerships that required teacher educators and school teachers to make joint instructional decisions and share responsibility and accountability for influencing prospective teachers’ readiness and willingness to adopt inclusive strategies in their teaching practice. Opportunities for reflective practice were embedded throughout the course using Lui’s six-stage model for reflective practice: assumption analysis, contextual awareness, imaginative speculation, reflective skepticism, reflection-based actions and reflection on the effect of reflection-based actions. The purpose of critical reflection was to challenge the assumptions and beliefs of teacher educators, school teachers and pre-service teachers about teaching diverse learners in regular classrooms. The aim of the study was to explore how co-teaching experiences influenced the teaching practice of teacher educators and how it impacted on pre-service teachers’ learning. Data were collected using qualitative interviews and reflective journal entries of two teacher educators and one school involved in co-teaching the course, and a focus group of four pre-service teachers who undertook the inclusive education course. The data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) framework (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009). Implications for teacher preparation will be discussed in relation to the nature of the relationship between teacher knowledge and teacher practice, especially in aligning inclusive education theory with the realities of classrooms. Recommendations for future research will also be presented.
Avramidis, E., & Norwich, B. (2002). Teachers' attitudes towards integration/inclusion: A review of the literature. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 17(2), 129-147. De Boer, A., Pijl, S. J., & Minnaert, A. (2011). Regular primary schoolteachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education: A review of the literature. International journal of inclusive education, 15(3), 331-353. Liu, K. (2015). Critical reflection as a framework for transformative learning in teacher education. Educational Review, 67(2), 135-157. Smith, J., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory Method and Research London: Sage.
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