04 SES 06 C, Exploring New Paths in Inclusive Education Research
This paper draws on a recently published report of one of the first major longitudinal studies in Europe of system-wide reform to prepare new teachers to be more inclusive (Hick et al, 2019).
The context for this project was a growing international consensus on the importance of policy initiatives to both raise the quality of teaching (OECD, 2005) and to better prepare teachers to respond to increasing diversity in communities and classrooms (EADSNE, 2011).
All Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in Ireland were re-accredited from 2012, involving a reconceptualisation and a significant extension in length. Mandatory content was added related to inclusive teaching and a wider range of school placement experiences. Following this major reform, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) commissioned a study of ‘Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion’ in 2015. NCSE’s aim was: ‘to establish what the components of inclusive/special education are within Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in Ireland and to explore if the recent changes prepare newly qualified teachers to be inclusive using the indicators set out in the EASNIE’s Profile of Inclusive Teachers’.
The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (EASNIE) conducted a four-year project on Teacher Education for Inclusion, producing a ‘Profile of Inclusive Teachers’ (EADSNE, 2012) which identified key attitudes, knowledge and skills to be addressed by ITE to prepare all new teachers to become more inclusive. The NCSE proposed the EASNIE Profile of Inclusive Teaching as the baseline definition of inclusive teaching for the project and it is used by the research team as a framework and starting point for analysis.
The ‘Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion’ project (ITE4I) ran from 2015-2018. The research team was led by Manchester Metropolitan University in partnership with University College Cork1 and University College London, Institute of Education. Its longitudinal approach, tracking the experiences of the first cohort of ITE students to graduate from the extended programmes through their first two years of teaching, lends further significance to this study.
Data collection and analysis was planned through a series of phases:
Phase 1 (Sept. – Jan. 2016): Analysing ITE Programme Content
Scoping review of literature
Documentary analysis (30 programmes from 13 ITE providers)
Teacher educator survey (N=21)
Phase 2 (Feb. – Aug. 2016): Understanding the ITE Student Experience
Student teacher survey (N=430) and interviews (N=47)
Teacher educator interviews (N=11)
Phase 3 (Sept. 2016 – Aug. 2017): Understanding the NQT Experience (1st year)
NQT1 survey (N=122) and follow-up interviews (N=20)
School principal interviews (N=13)
Phase 4 (Sept. 2017 – May 2018): Understanding the NQT Experience (2nd year)
NQT2 survey (N=38) and follow-up interviews (N=23)
School principal (N =8) interviews
How new teachers approach engaging in inclusive practices with diverse learners, can be understood as a process of navigating a series of dynamic contexts, within which they are negotiating aspects of relational agency. The process of transition within NQTs’ early professional identity towards accepting the role of becoming an authority figure was evident in the data. This was sometimes linked to NQTs’ learning in relation to managing behaviour in the classroom, which was framed in the interviews as a skill that can only be learned in practice as a teacher.
When interviewed during their ITE programme, student teachers tended to identify a mismatch between the theoretical and practical elements of their learning. However when interviewed again as NQTs, this issue was not referred to so frequently. Our analysis suggests that their accounts of this notion of a ‘theory/practice divide’ became more complex and nuanced, and were influenced by their early professional practice.
This paper draws on an intensive re-analysis of longitudinal case study data relating to four teachers, following their development as pre-service students and into the first two years of their careers. Survey and interview data over a three year period from the case study teachers is supplemented with data from documentary analysis of teacher preparation programmes and interviews with teacher educators and school Principals. Data will be thematically analysed (using Nvivo software to manage data) and interrogated in relation to a theoretical framing drawing on Edwards (2007, 2015) notion of relational agency (Buchanan, 2015; Lasky, 2015).
How new teachers approach engaging in inclusive practices with diverse learners, can be understood as a process of navigating a series of dynamic contexts, within which they are negotiating aspects of relational agency. This paper will develop a framework for understanding the 'social situation of development' of new teachers in relation to developing as inclusive teachers. This framework will relate to current models of inclusive pedagogy.
Teacher Identity, Agency and Professional Vulnerability in a Context of Secondary School Reform.” Teaching Rebecca Buchanan (2015) Teacher identity and agency in an era of accountability, Teachers and Teaching, 21:6, 700-719. Anne Edwards (2007) Relational Agency in Professional Practice: A CHAT Analysis, Action: An International Journal of Human Activity Theory No. 1 2007 Pp. 1-17 Anne Edwards (2015) Recognising and realising teachers’ professional agency, Teachers and Teaching, 21:6, 779-784. Biesta, G., M. Priestley, and S. Robinson. 2015. “The Role of Beliefs in Teacher Agency.” Teachers and Teaching 21 (6): 624–640.10 EADSNE. (2012). Teacher education for inclusion: Profile of inclusive teachers. Odense, Denmark: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. Peter Hick, Aikaterini Matziari, Joseph Mintz, Finn Ó Murchú, Kevin Cahill, Kathy Hall, Catriona Curtin and Yvette Solomon1 (2019) Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion: Final Report to the National Council for Special Education. NCSE: Trim, Ireland. https://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/04611-NCSE-Teacher-Training-RR-Proof05.pdf Lasky, S. 2005. “A Sociocultural Approach to Understanding and Teacher Education 21: 899–916. Mintz, J; Hick, P; Solomon, Y; Matziari, A; Ó'Murchú, F; Hall, K; Cahill, K; Curtin, C; Anders, J; Margariti, D (2020) The reality of reality shock for inclusion: How does teacher attitude, perceived knowledge and self-efficacy in relation to effective inclusion in the classroom change from the pre-service to novice teacher year? Teaching and Teacher Education , 91 , Article 103042. 10.1016/j.tate.2020.103042.
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