Academic journal article Education

Teacher Education Reform Effort for Inclusion Classrooms: Knowledge versus Pedagogy

Academic journal article Education

Teacher Education Reform Effort for Inclusion Classrooms: Knowledge versus Pedagogy

Article excerpt

Few teachers are unaware of the challenge they face in creating positive learning communities that meet the academic and social needs of students with specific learning disabilities, with emotional or behavior disorders, who are gifted and talented, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and/or at risk for school failure due to a lack of motivation to learn. Clearly, academic diversity prevails among these students who may be performing in the high average or below-average ranges as measured by teacher, school district, state or national standard. Both preservice and in- service programs must rethink their current configuration of teacher preparation to help teachers modify curricula, deliver effective instruction, and employ alternative-assessment strategies to meet the needs of diverse learners.

The inclusion-model classroom can be very successful. Determination to see all students feel good about their progress should drive teachers in an inclusion setting. This way, the teacher's additional work goes unnoticed by the educator and student achievement is celebrated

Inclusion takes the teaching and learning process forward. For the students being included, benefits of socialization and acceptance are often seen. However, inclusion can take a child whose learning curve looks like a learning plateau, and help him/her to want to become a learner again. Students with special needs in a regular education classroom gain new models, new motivation and new friends. Their parents start to see their growth again and get to enjoy their increased self-esteem. The other students in the class benefit as they learn how to work more cooperatively with others and to find the strengths in all of their peers. Their parents also do the same.

The broader vision here is to meet the needs of all students at all levels. Pennsylvania's teacher educators are positioned to address the broader issues associated with the simultaneous, systemic reform of teacher education in conjunction with the many dimensions of K-12 restructuring. To this end, University teams are invited to work in a partnership designed to support the pursuit of "reform initiatives". The goal of these funded partnerships is to engage teacher educators and public school staff in the collaborative preparation of pre-service teachers, so that all new teachers will be able to effectively support children with disabilities in the general curriculum.

A Need to Redefine Teaching

Providing the kind of preparation that teachers need to meet current demands for stepped-up student learning requires a fundamental redefinition of the act of teaching. The complex learning needed to use knowledge for problem solving and invention rather than rote recall depends on immensely skillful teaching that does far more than "cover the curriculum". It requires that critical ideas be presented in powerful ways so that a systematic learning process building upon the students learning experiences to construct learning can be created. Effective curriculum, teaching strategies and assessments are build on the basis of a strong understanding of the process of learning.

How the curriculum and instruction will support professional development school partnerships:

The goal of the proposed partnership is to collaborate and as a team work jointly towards the goal of the preparation of preservice and inservice teachers to teach in diverse classrooms. The movement to restructure teacher preparation programs is occurring simultaneously with the reorganization of special education into a more unified system of service delivery. Thus, exceptional students are being included for longer periods of time in regular classrooms as opposed to receiving a larger part of their instruction in support settings such as the resource room or the self-contained classroom. Such inclusive education signals a philosophical change, thus signifying that general education teachers at the preservice level must receive opportunities to develop adequate knowledge, teaching skills, and positive attitudes concerning special education students. …

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