From: Tool to Upgrade Teacher Education - Practices for Inclusive Education (Judith Hollenweger, Nataša Pantić, Lani Florian. Council of Europe, 2015)
Upgrading teacher education activities to align them with the requirements of inclusive education is best understood as a problem-solving process. It is through interlinked activities carried out in a meaningful sequence that problems such as upgrading teacher education activities are solved. the activities guide the user through the questions that need to be addressed and issues that need to be clarified before changing the current practice of teacher education. they include information from the framework in formats useful at certain stages of this problem solving cycle. the framework helps not to lose sight of the overall purpose of upgrading teacher education, which is to increase their effectiveness in supporting or promoting inclusive practices. the problem solving cycle used to organise the activities for upgrading is represented in following figure:
In practice, upgrading will not be a strictly linear process of taking one step after completing the previous step. It is an interactive and dynamic process where progress often is made on two steps at the same time, because progress on one step will open up new ideas about the next or the previous step. Although the overall process will move along the problem solving cycle, sometimes back stepping will be necessary to reconsider new ideas. In real life, curriculum development never ends because implementation will highlight needs for adjustments and new training requirements will be identified. the different steps in the problem solving cycle are the following:
Problem identification means becoming aware of an overall need for change. to understand the need for change, the current approach, practice or situation needs to be analysed as it relates to the ideal or vision of inclusive practice. to help develop this broad vision, a model of inclusive teacher practice is provided in this tool against which the overall approach used by a provider of teacher education can be compared. the outcome of this analysis is a broad understanding of what is the object and objective in need of transformation. For example, if present practices around enacting the curriculum by the schools are perceived as the main problem, the information provided on practices “supporting all learners to facilitate access to the curriculum” can be used to help develop a vision of inclusive practices. It is against this vision that the need for change or an understanding of the current problem is developed.
Needs assessment uses the overall identification of a problem and seeks to understand what this means for the specific target group. the target group will vary according to the main activity of the teacher education provider. In pre-service or initial teacher education the target group are teacher students, in-service teacher education activities may focus on novice teachers, experienced teachers or both. Mentorship programmes or education programmes to become a teacher educator generally target experienced teachers wanting to acquire specific expertise to work with teachers or other professionals. Some providers of education activities for inclusive education include additional target groups such as other professionals working in inclusive schools, school leaders, representatives of local authorities, inspectors, teacher educators or other members of the community. the needs assessment is based on the specific practice that the targeted group is expected to develop in the context of inclusive education. For teachers and other professionals working in inclusive schools, the four areas of practice will serve as a model against which gaps or the needs for development will be defined. the user will then need to decide which gaps should be addressed in the teacher education activity at hand.
Once the needs of the targeted learners are identified and the decision made which of these should be addressed, the goals and objectives for the teacher education activities can be developed. the overall goals will be set against the four areas of practice, either by selecting one, two, three or by considering all four. For example, valuing student diversity may be the main objective of a workshop provided by a local non-governmental organisation to a school that has a very diverse student population while a master’s programme on inclusive education will focus on all four practices. Once the overall goals have been developed, the detailed description of the practices provided by the framework can be used to develop more specific objectives. Objectives depend on the target group and may include the change of attitudes and values, the acquisition of knowledge and skills, the development of competences or agency. Objectives are not only statements of an ideal future state; they are also linked to an understanding of the activities or means that will help teachers to develop inclusive practices. In other words, objectives include the overall specifications of the future teacher education activity.
Once the goals and objectives are clear, the focus shifts to what should be done in the future and how. Based on the overall specifications and an understanding of what teachers should be able to do as a result of upgraded teacher education activity, thought has to be given to what exactly will be done and how to achieve these goals and objectives. An understanding of the content of the curriculum (coverage) and of the ways in which the target group will be engaged in learning needs to be developed. thought needs to be given to where this learning activity should best take place thereby defining the social and physical contexts of the future teacher education activity. Essentially this is about bringing content, goals, methods and contexts together to define the future learning activities for the target group in question. this is also about developing a meaningful sequence of the different activities and laying them out as a plan, programme or curriculum.
this activity is critical for the success of the new teacher education practice. It takes it from something that is in people’s heads to reality. Implementation or realisation of your new teacher education activity means to put your planning into action, to create a new teacher education practice. Since this will very much depend on the users’ specific situation, not much information on how to proceed can be provided in this tool. the user may have to obtain political support to ensure the sustainability of your activity, possibly including a process of accreditation by a state institution. there may be need to identify or obtain the necessary resources, infrastructure and support. Potential barriers need to be identified and addressed and thoughts given to the introduction of the upgraded teacher education activity. It may be necessary to gain acceptance from and create alliances with teachers, school leaders, local authorities or other relevant groups. thoughts need to be given to documentation, administration and refinement of the new practice, as it becomes an activity in the real world.
Evaluation of your new teacher education practice entails the evaluation of every component of your practice:
To sum it up: was the new teacher education activity implemented as envisaged? to evaluate the new teacher education activity and to receive feedback from participants and other stakeholders, the activity model can be used again. In this tool, implementation, evaluation and feedback are described as one planning activity because the actual realisation and the following steps will need to be guided by the specific circumstances in which the teacher education activity is carried out.
Each step of the problem solving cycle includes three activities. For each activity, an overview is provided using the components of the activity model. Subsequently, the user is given some information that helps carry out the activity and highlights important points to consider. the activity is then described in more detail, providing forms or templates that can be used to link the activity to the framework for inclusive practices (see next part).
An overview of the activities suggested for each step of the problem solving cycle is presented here to facilitate orientation. For the activities in detail see PDF:
Problem identification: focus on practices for inclusive education
Needs assessment: focus on professionals for inclusive education
Goals and objectives: visualisation of new teacher education practice
Strategies and methods: building the new teacher education practice
Implementation, evaluation and feedback: realising the new teacher education practice