01 SES 09, Learning from and with Colleagues & Network Meeting
Considerable attention has been given to the ways in which teachers’ beliefs, values and practice relate to their practical knowledge – which is commonly seen to combine experiential knowledge embedded in particular contexts with formal, explicit knowledge of school subjects and educational processes (Lunenberg & Korthagen, 2009; Van Driel, Beijaard, & Verloop, 2001). We focus here on the development of teachers’ practical knowledge in teaching an inclusive class of young children in a co-teaching partnership. Inclusive practice may require the articulation of certain types of ‘specialist’ knowledge, even if basic teaching principles and strategies apply to all students (Kershner, 2007). Yet practical knowledge only develops fully in each professional context. Our immediate aim is therefore to explore the processes of teachers’ collaborative knowledge construction. This in turn addresses the question of how best to support other teachers in their efforts towards developing the practical knowledge-base of inclusive teaching in different contexts.
Co-teaching is, at least potentially, a genuinely peer-learning relationship involving communication and collaboration within and beyond the classroom. All the features of effective professional development, such as active learning, reflective thinking and collaborative participation (Desimone, 2009), are everyday matters in successful co-teaching, and therefore it holds particular promise for teacher learning (McDuffie, Mastropieri, & Scruggs, 2009). Co-teaching calls for the active involvement of both teachers in the task of instruction. Sharing practical responsibility for the classroom and the students brings together each teacher’s, mostly tacit, practical knowledge. This potentially releases teachers’ energy from explaining every detail in order to allow larger issues to be addressed. It thus offers unique collaborative learning opportunities based on mutual understanding of the context.
However, sharing is not easy for all teachers for personal and practical reasons. Some teachers show reluctance to capitalise on a collaborative learning context to support their efforts to experiment with new things in their classroom, despite the fact that teachers working in such environments have reported greater ease than other teachers in maintaining new ways (Bakkenes, Vermunt, & Wubbels, 2010). Kwakman (2003) found that teachers preferred individual learning activities over activities with their colleagues. She concludes that teachers’ weak tendency to participate in collaborative learning activities in schools seemed to be related to their personal characteristics rather than other workplace-related factors. Another personal factor can be teachers’ own will to learn (Van Eekelen, Vermunt, & Boshuizen, 2006). We may usefully ask, therefore, about teachers’ views of co-teaching, learning in this case from an experience seen as successful by those involved.
The research questions are: How do the teachers narrate their learning experiences and knowledge construction? How do they narrate their collaboration? How do the teachers see the relationship between their collaboration, their knowledge construction and the development of their pedagogical practice?
Bakkenes, I., Vermunt, J. D., & Wubbels, T. (2010). Teacher learning in the context of educational innovation: Learning activities and learning outcomes of experienced teachers. Learning and Instruction, 20(6), 533-548. Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181-200. Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (2007). Ethnography : Principles in practice. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Kershner, R. (2007). What do teachers need to know about meeting special educational needs? In L. Florian (Ed.), The sage handbook of special education (pp. 486-498). London: Sage. Kwakman, K. (2003). Factors affecting teachers' participation in professional learning activities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(2), 149-170. Lunenberg, M., & Korthagen, F. (2009). Experience, theory, and practical wisdom in teaching and teacher education. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 15(2), 225-240. McDuffie, K. A., Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (2009). Differential effects of peer tutoring in co-taught and non-co-taught classes: Results for content learning and student-teacher interactions. Exceptional Children, 75(4), 493-510. Mercer, N. (2004). Sociocultural discourse analysis: Analysing classroom talk as a social mode of thinking. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 137-168. Polkinghorne, D. E. (1995). Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis. In J. A. Hatch, & R. Wisniewski (Eds.), Life history and narrative (pp. 5-23). London: Falmer Press. Riessman, C. K. (2008). Narrative methods for the human sciences. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Spradley, J. P. (1979). The ethnographic interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Van Driel, J. H., Beijaard, D., & Verloop, N. (2001). Professional development and reform in science education: The role of teachers' practical knowledge. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(2), 137-158. Van Eekelen, I. M., Vermunt, J. D., & Boshuizen, H. P. A. (2006). Exploring teachers' will to learn. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(4), 408-423.
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