Susan D. Martin, Vicki McQuitty, and Denise N. Morgan
Complexity theory offers possibilities for thinking about the challenges and opportunities inherent in teaching, teacher learning, and many other networked systems in teacher education. Complexity theory is a theory of learning systems that provides a framework for those interested in examining how systems develop and change. It is transdisciplinary in nature, drawing on insights from diverse fields across both the hard and social sciences, and when applied to education may provide a complex rather than simplistic view of teaching and learning. Further, complexity theory has the potential to offer a powerful alternative to linear and reductionist conceptualizations, with implications for methodology of teacher education research as well as its analysis and design. This small but growing body of work has influenced teacher education in two ways. First, scholars have argued for complexity theory’s usefulness as a framework to understand and describe how teacher education functions as a complex system. The second category of work, smaller than the first, uses complexity theory to frame and analyze empirical studies. Much of the emerging body of research conducted from a complexity theory perspective is descriptive and largely confirms what has been theorized. Empirical work has confirmed that a variety of systems, at different levels, influence teacher learning and pedagogical decisions. Gaps in our knowledge still exist, however, as theorists and researchers continue to struggle with how complexity theory can best serve teacher education for the benefit of teachers and students.
Chris Forlin and Dianne Chambers
Special education has undergone continued transformation since societies began to provide an increasing number of specialized, segregated facilities for children with like needs during the 20th century. Since then, there has been a worldwide movement against a segregated approach and toward greater inclusion of students with disabilities into regular schools. The provision of a dual special education and regular school system, nevertheless, remains in existence, even though there has been a strong emphasis on a more inclusive approach since the latter half of the 20th century. As regular schools become more inclusive and teachers more capable of providing appropriate modifications for most students with learning needs, simultaneously there has been an increase in the number of students whose needs are so severe that schools have not been able to accommodate them. While these children and youth have special needs, they are invariably not related to an identified disability but fall more into a category of diversity. In particular, students who are excluded from schools due to severe infringements, those who are disenfranchised from school and refuse to attend, and those with severe emotional, behavioral, or mental health issues are not being serviced by the existing dual system. For these students neither existing special schools that cater to students with disabilities nor regular inclusive schools provide an appropriate education. The provision of a complementary and alternatively focused education to cater to the specific needs of these marginalized students seems to be developing to ensure sustainability of education and to prepare these new groups of students for inclusion into society upon leaving school. This tripartite approach highlights a new era in the movement toward a sustainable, inclusive education system that caters to the needs of all students and specifically those with the most challenging and diverse requirements.
Linda Blanton and Marleen Pugach
Dual certification refers to a teaching license both for general primary and/or secondary education and special needs education simultaneously. This term is unique to the United States, where licensure policy has traditionally offered options for teacher candidates to earn an initial stand-alone license in either general or special needs education, and contrasts with initial teacher education policy patterns outside the United States, where teachers are not typically permitted to earn an initial license for special needs education alone. Various forms of dual certification have existed in the United States for many decades, but until recently they were not the norm. Contemporary teacher educators and policymakers in the United States have adopted and encouraged dual certification as a way of supporting the preparation of teachers for effective inclusive teaching. As a result, dual certification is viewed as a means of restructuring and expanding the entirety of the preservice, initial teacher education curriculum to become highly responsive both to the increasing diversity of students and to the wider range and more complex needs of students who struggle in school, among them students with special needs.
Because dual certification addresses the vital question of how best to prepare initial teachers for inclusive teaching, its fundamental, underlying concerns transcend specific national structural or policy issues regarding licensure. Instead, dual certification reflects a focus on the content of initial teacher preparation writ large regarding what kinds of redesigned, reconceptualized clinical, course, and curricular experiences might be most effective in preparing teachers for high-quality inclusive teaching practice. Dual certification calls into question the nature of teacher expertise, challenging basic beliefs about where the responsibility of general education teachers ends and where that of special needs education teachers begins. In this way, dual certification can be viewed as a specific national policy vehicle that addresses common international concerns for developing appropriate preservice curricula that are responsive to the demands of inclusive educational practice. Implementing dual certification is not without its challenges, however, as reflected in some of the early and ongoing attempts at implementation. Therefore, it is critical both to anticipate potential pitfalls as well as to identify potential solutions that are appropriate to the fundamental purposes of preparing teachers for inclusive practice.
Effective Practices for Collaborating With Families and Caregivers of Children and Young Adults With Disabilities
Shridevi Rao, Nadya Pancsofar, and Sarah Monaco
A rich literature on family-professional collaboration with families and caregivers of children and youth with disabilities has developed in the United States. This literature identifies key barriers that impede family-professional relationships including deficit-based perceptions of families and children with disabilities, narrow definitions of “family” that limit the participation of some members such as fathers or grandparents, and historical biases that constrain the participation of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families. Principles for building collaborative relationships with families include honoring the strengths of the family, presuming competence in the child and the family, valuing broad definitions of “family,” and understanding the ecology of family routines and rituals. Practices that help facilitate family-professional relationships are building reciprocal partnerships with various caregivers in the family including fathers as well as extended family members, adopting a posture of cultural reciprocity, using a variety of modes of communication with families, and involving families in all aspects of the special education process such as assessment, planning, prioritizing of skills, and identification of interventions. Pivotal moments in the family’s journey through their child’s schooling, including early intervention and transition to post-school environments, provide opportunities to build and strengthen family-professional relationships. Each of these moments has the potential to involve families in a variety of processes including assessment, planning, and articulating the goals and vision for their child/youth. A focus on strengths, collaborative partnerships, and family agency and voice is at the core of strong family-professional relationships.
Ethnography is about cultural representation, which implies a gaze and set of questions and assumptions about who is being represented, by whom, and what for. In this sense, ethnography always is conducted across borders where borders imply a set of differences to confront and understand, even while the ethnographer is expected to effectively overcome these through embedded practice in the field. If the enterprise of conducting these studies is always marked by border crossing, then what are the different ways in which border crossings happen in knowledge production through ethnography? How does the definition of “border” change the way ethnographic studies are performed? Potential shifts in the meaning of “borders” heightens the importance of interrogating cultural representation, the social locations that ethnographers occupy, see, and speak from, and how perspectives on cultural representation and actual representations will differ. These dynamics build up when, as here, ethnography across borders implies the presence of the nation-state, either as palimpsest or direct actor in the relations and daily lives of the community-participant in the ethnography.
Borders are necessarily evoked—geopolitical, social, cultural, national, regional, global, and personal ones, such as gender, race, class, and ethnicity. Ethnography across borders emerges in this instance as a methodology and a stance to deconstruct the ways in which ethnographers and ethnographies are radically situated in their own histories, and how radical contextualization of those histories is required to understand across borders and uncover the limits of cultural representation, language, and ethnography as a tool to understand the lives of people, their histories, and communities.
Communication is about working together to create shared meaning. It usually requires at least two people (one acting as the sender, and one or more acting as the receiver), uses a particular code (which may involve either conventional or unconventional signals), may take linguistic or nonlinguistic forms, and may occur through speech or other modes. In the classroom context, spoken language is typically the preferred mode of communication and the primary medium through which teaching and learning takes place. For learners with speech and langue disabilities, this is problematic.
Communication does not develop in a vacuum. Cognitive and social routes are both important and therefore evidence-based practices (EBP) that impact on both need to be considered. In an attempt to delineate evidence-based strategies from assumptions or commonly accepted practices that have become “teaching folklore,” three aspects should be considered: (a) the best available research evidence that should be integrated with (b) professional expertise (using for example observation, tests, peer assessment, and practical performance) as well as (c) the learner’s and his/her family’s values. EBP thus recognizes that teaching and learning is individualized and ever-changing and therefore will involve uncertainties. Being aware of EBP enriches service delivery (in this case teaching practice) and enables teachers to support their learners to achieve high-quality educational outcomes. Research has shown that high expectations from teachers have a significant influence on the development of academic skills for children with speech and language disability. Teachers should therefore be empowered to understand how they can set up the environment in such a way that responsive, enjoyable interaction opportunities can be created that will enable learners to develop a sense power and control which are important building block for learning. They also need to understand the important role that they play in shaping behavior through the provision of consistent feedback on all communication behaviors and that communication entails both input (comprehension) and output (expression).
Four teaching approaches that have some evidence base for learners with significant speech and language disabilities include:
a) communication passports: this is a means through which idiosyncratic communication attempts can be captured and shared enabling everyone in the learner’s environment to provide consistent feedback on all communication attempts;
b) visual schedules: a variety of symbols (ranging from objects symbols to graphic symbols) can be used to represent people, activities, or events to support communication. Visual schedules signal what is about to happen next and assists learners to predict the sequence of events, to make choices, and to manage challenging behavior;
c) partner training: as communication involves more than one person, communication partner (in this case teachers) training is required in order to ensure responsivity;
d) aided language stimulation: this classroom-based strategy attempts to provide a strong language comprehension foundation by combining spoken language with pointing to symbols, thereby providing learners with visual supplementation.
Chris Forlin and Kuen-Fung Sin
Following the UNESCO initial statement in 1994 that inclusive schools were the most effective way to counter discriminatory approaches and attitudes toward students with a disability, international legislation and policy has evolved to challenge exclusionary practices and focus attention on equal opportunities for all learners. Inclusion in education is now accepted as a basic right and the foundation for a fairer and equal society. In opposition to earlier dual systems of regular and special education, inclusive education presents a changed paradigm in the way that learners with diverse needs are educated. Specifically, generalist teachers are now required to be able to cater to the needs of the most diverse student populations both academically and socially within regular classrooms.
In most regions, there has been a rather slow and lagging change in teacher preparation to support these new developments. It is frequently documented that new graduates and in-service teachers are not well prepared for managing inclusive classrooms and understanding differences among students. Many teachers will say that they require more professional learning opportunities about inclusive education than they currently receive. When teachers are appropriately trained, have positive attitudes toward including students with diverse abilities, and have access to appropriate resources and support, there are many good practices that become evident. Conversely, inadequate teacher education and a lack of suitable resources often inhibit teachers from developing the appropriate beliefs or attitudes necessary for becoming inclusive practitioners.
As the demand for better training of teachers about the inclusion of students with diverse abilities increases, the question that arises is what constitutes best-practice professional learning for upskilling teachers about inclusive education? While a variety of existing practices ranging from in-school support to system-wide approaches are employed globally, identifying which to use must be grounded in the context and specific needs of individual teachers and schools. This article provides a review of the range of models of whole-school methods, including focusing on teacher competencies, developing school and university links, engaging in collaborative scholarship, and establishing professional learning communities. System support is also examined, as this is critical to effective training. The Hong Kong model is cited as a good example of a collaborative government system/university partnership toward upskilling teachers about inclusive education. This model provides a realistic approach to addressing this issue when a longitudinal plan has been implemented to upskill regular class teachers in inclusive education, using initially an off-site training program followed by a school-based whole-school approach that may be of interest to many other systems. Consideration is also given to the training needs of education assistants who work in inclusive classrooms and their roles in supporting students. The importance of lifelong professional learning should underpin decisions regarding what model or approach to adopt, as student and teacher needs will undoubtedly change over time.
Poi Kee Low
With the growing diversity of professions working in schools, interdisciplinary partnership and collaboration are growing quickly the world over. Apart from traditional teaching and learning concerns, awareness of children and youth mental health issues and socio-emotional wellbeing, grew readily since the 2000s. Rising in tandem with this trend is the number of psychologists, social workers, and counselors joining educators to support children and young persons in schools. Challenges such as misconception of roles, differing perceptions as well as cross-disciplinary misunderstanding threaten to prevent concerned professionals in working collaborative to help children and young persons in need. Fortunately, this aspect of interdisciplinary partnership in schools gains the much-needed attention in research from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas. Models and frameworks suggesting best practices for interdisciplinary collaboration emerged in school psychology, counseling and social work literature. Also growing in tandem is research in methods of measurement and evaluation of such collaboration as well as studies on pre-service professional training on interdisciplinary collaborative skills in the related disciplines.
Keith J. Topping
Both peer tutoring and cooperative learning are types of peer assisted learning; they involve people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers helping each other to learn and learning themselves by teaching. Peer tutoring usually involves pairs of students, one in the role of tutor and the other as tutee, with the more able or experienced member helping the other to learn material which is new to the tutor but not to the tutee. By contrast, cooperative learning is usually done in small groups of perhaps four students, often of mixed ability. The group works toward a consensus on a problem. Because it is easier to dominate or hide in a group, roles are often assigned to each group member.
Earlier perspectives tended to use the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky, perhaps with some consideration of Bandura and Dewey. Chi, King, and Graesser have been prominent in more recent work. However, a theoretical perspective is offered that integrates these elements with more practical issues.
In general, both peer tutoring and cooperative learning “work”— in a wide range of curricular subjects and with a wide range of ages. Given the appropriate form of organization, cognitive gains ensue for both helpers and those who are helped. This is not the main research issue, which is exploring how and why these practices work, in order to improve effectiveness. There are several meta-analyses (a statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies) which are relevant, and beyond this, key individual papers of specific importance are highlighted.
Over the years, we have become wiser about some of the key issues. In peer tutoring, same-ability tutoring has appeared in recent years, sometimes reciprocal, and we need to know under what conditions it works. Cooperative learning has issues regarding the most effective roles for group members and how these integrate with student ability and personality. There has also been much recent work in online peer tutoring which raises different issues. The existing literature is well-developed since these are not new methods. Future research should include more tightly defined studies focusing on more minor variables of context and organization.
Many teachers will say they use both peer tutoring and cooperative learning, but very often they overestimate how often anything like good practice takes place. Simply putting students together and hoping for the best will not do, although it might have mild effects. Teachers using these methods need to be clear about what organizational parameters are vital in their context with their type of peer assisted learning. These features then need to be maximized in practice and an eye must be kept on implementation fidelity throughout. Education administrators need to organize professional development for teachers which is thorough, including initial instruction and practice followed up by support and monitoring in the classroom.
Noelle W. Arnold
Understanding, shaping, and mediating the unique contexts and communities in which schools are located offers a unique approach to educational-leadership preparation. The emerging frame of PLACE describes a place-based leading and learning framework for educational-leadership preparation that uses a combination of concept-based curricula that includes practice and problem-solving in context, bridging culture and community, arts and humanities pedagogies, creative evaluation and engagement, and leadership for context rather than for region that includes followership models. Place-based educational leadership focuses on context-based professional practice that has a direct bearing on the well-being of individuals in the school ecology and the larger ecologies in which they live and work.
David Duran and Ester Miquel
Many educational reforms highlight the need for collaboration, understood not only as a competence to be learned but also as a way of learning and teaching. Two types of collaboration can be found in classrooms: peer collaboration and teacher collaboration. The first focuses on how the teacher restructures interactions between pupils organized in pairs or groups. This permits cooperative learning practices, either by peer tutoring or through systems of cooperative learning. By implementing peer collaboration, the teacher is able to develop a new and transformative role which facilitates functions such as continuous assessment or immediate personalized attention, which are more difficult to carry out in environments where a traditional teaching approach is used. However, both the organization of the classroom for peer collaboration and this new teaching role require teacher training. Experiential learning is a key aspect of the training.
Different levels of teacher collaboration exist, but the most complete is co-teaching: two teachers planning, implementing, and assessing the same lesson for a group of students. Co–teaching allows teachers to attend to the individual needs of their students; that is why it is such an important tool in inclusive education. Furthermore, it is a learning tool for teachers. Co-teachers can foster mutual observation, reflection, and planning of innovative practices, making working together a form of professional development. However, to ensure that pupils receive better attention and that teachers learn from each other, there has to be teacher training, and again, it must be addressed from an experimental perspective.
Models of teacher education that involve close links between teachers in schools and teacher educators in universities have become commonplace, developed in response to changing educational-policy contexts of many governments worldwide. Reforms to teacher education in the U.K. since the late 20th century, and especially in England since 2010, have shifted control and content of pre-service teacher learning from the university to the school classroom. The process of increasingly centralized control of initial teacher education in England has been mirrored only partially elsewhere in the U.K. and Europe. Teacher-education policy in England has become more school-focused, while many European countries and other nations have extended the process of placing teacher education under the auspices of universities.
The findings of a 2015 national review on teacher education in England reflect the contested place of universities in teacher education and proffer a view of the dominant constructions of knowledge for teaching being practical and focused around the immediate demands of contemporary practice in schools. In England a fragmentation of the school system and of the numerous routes into teaching further weakens the conditions through which teacher knowledge is constituted. Changes in school governance, for example, have meant that some schools are no longer required to employ teachers with qualified teacher status. This makes school leaders and school governors crucially placed to facilitate alternative experiences for new teachers learning how to teach, and significantly changes the landscape of teacher education. For example, a former head teacher quoted on the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers website has dedicated her career to “growing your own” when it comes to educating new teachers.
Influences from the continental European policy of countries such as Finland and Portugal, where all teacher education is at Masters’ degree level, and Norway and the Netherlands, which have made significant policy moves in this direction, have not impacted on current teacher-education policy in England. In England teaching remains a graduate profession. However, it is the differences in teacher-education processes which are the main focus of this article. The Department for Education in England has increased school-led provision in teacher education because, according to the Department, it wants schools to have greater autonomy over how they deliver teacher education. Perhaps most attractive to schools is the possibility of educating teachers “on the job,” as this helps to fill teaching positions in a climate of growing teacher shortage. However, little research has been undertaken on the new role of the school-based teacher educator and how their work is being enacted in schools. The complexity of demands and expectations on school-based teacher educators signals the need for clarity on what this role involves. Such concerns drive new research and raise questions about the nature of teacher education in England and the role of the academy within it.
The structure of teacher education in Germany has to be regarded in close connection with the structure of the German school system. Five different types of teachers (five Lehrämter) correspond to the several levels and types of schools in Germany. All teachers are educated and trained as part of a process consisting of two phases: During the first phase of five years, all future teachers attend university and study their two or three specialized subjects as well as education, while carrying out internships in schools. After that, they pass over to the second phase at a specialized teacher-training institution that prepares them for the necessities of practical classroom teaching in their subjects. This second phase lasts one-and-a-half or—in three of the sixteen German Länder—up to two years. Having passed the final state examination they apply for an available position at a school. The system of initial teacher education in Germany is very intensive and ambitious; on the contrary, the in-service or further education of teachers is not very well developed. This article sketches the basic structure of teacher education in Germany. As Germany is a federal state consisting of 16 Länder, and as school and teacher education matters are decided at the level of these Länder, each Land has its specific teacher education system, slightly different from the general model.
Teacher education has been and is criticized constantly: the courses at university are not sufficiently connected to the requirements of the second phase and the later work the students must carry out in schools. Because of this constant critique teacher education is continuously being reformed. As part of a general reform of the higher education system, teacher education was integrated into the bachelor’s-master’s system (the Bologna process). Not all hopes linked to this reform have come to fruition. Some other reforms deserve a mention. In the universities, Centers for Teacher Education have been established to organize and supervise all processes and actors involved in teacher education. Internships in schools have been expanded and restructured. Standards for all curricular elements of teacher education have been developed on the level of the federate state and have been adopted in Länder and universities very slowly. In some of the Länder, the differing lengths and academic levels of the different teacher education programs for the different types of teachers (Lehrämter), which formerly led to different salary levels and career opportunities, have in parts been graded up to the top level.
Nevertheless, teacher education in Germany is characterized by profound and persistent problems. All resources and hopes are still directed toward initial teacher education. In-service teacher education remains underdeveloped. The career system of qualified teachers in service does not mirror the career path of a teacher; in-service training does not respond to the processes and problems of individual teacher development. The changing conditions in the labor market for teachers undermine efforts to improve the quality of teacher education in a sustainable way. On the positive side, it can be noted that in Germany—and worldwide—research on teacher education, its processes and results has grown rapidly in the last two decades.
Edmund T. Hamann, Juan Sánchez García, and Yara Amparo López López
While teaching and therefore teacher education in Mexico can, in one sense, be traced back to pre-Conquest Aztec military academies, the first significant expansion of Western-style schooling in Mexico occurred in the early 19th century, while the first substantial national efforts at teacher education date to the Porfiriato in the late 19th century. In the 100-plus-year history of teacher education in Mexico, attention has been episodic, has often reflected national refractions of ideas originating elsewhere, and has been centrally intertwined with national governmental efforts to shape what it means to be Mexican. Variously, teacher education has been buffeted by attempts to be Catholic, modern, secular, socialist, neoliberal, and globally competitive economically. In all of this, there has been a tension between centralist (focusing on Mexico City) and nationalist impulses, on the one hand (making teaching patriotic work and the teachers’ union part of the national government), and attention to regional variations, including Mexico’s indigenous populations, rural populations, and economic diversity, on the other. While Mexico’s more than two million teachers may all work in the same country, where one is trained (i.e., which escuela normal, or normal school), where one works (from public schools in affluent and stable neighborhoods to rural telesecundarias where resources are scarce and teachers are not expected to be content area experts), how many shifts one works (it is common for Mexican educators to work at more than one school to compensate for limited salary), which state one works in (funding varies significantly by state), and what in-service professional development one has access to all mean for variations in teacher preparation and teacher praxis.
One of the ultimate goals in improving students’ quality of life is to provide them with quality learning experiences in schools. This goal has led many developed and developing countries to establish educational policies that encourage school practitioners to implement systems and practices that maximize students’ positive outcomes in both special education and inclusive school settings. Policy initiatives have influenced schoolwide practices and processes in many ways to change the requirements of schools and implement new approaches. Schools are directed by policies and then either strengthen or hinder implementation. Translating policies into practices can be sometimes complex and difficult. Many schools are faced with implementation failure due to a variety of factors, ranging from teacher problems with confidence, skills, and knowledge or issues in adapting to the changed practices of larger systems.
Meeting these challenges requires the involvement of teachers, schools, stakeholders, and policymakers to close the gaps between existent policies and actual school practices. One promising approach to closing the gaps is known as implementation science, which is centered on a systematic process to promote the adaptation of research-based practices and other evidence-based policies into a regular routine. Core components include ongoing coaching, staff selection and training, and support systems. These components need to be employed and sustained at a high level for successful implementation. To achieve better outcomes, schools and all stakeholders require a systematic process of transferring policies. Stages of implementation considered as a formal protocol include exploration, installation, initial implementation, full implantation, innovation, and sustainability. Community-wide efforts are required to improve the uptake and effectiveness of policies in school contexts.