Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

What Are Schools Looking for in New, Inclusive Teachers?/que Recherchent Les ÉColes Chez Les Nouveaux Enseignants Dans Un Contexte D'inclusion?

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

What Are Schools Looking for in New, Inclusive Teachers?/que Recherchent Les ÉColes Chez Les Nouveaux Enseignants Dans Un Contexte D'inclusion?

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. Focus groups were conducted in four school divisions in central Canada in order to determine whether inclusive educators in schools could identify the knowledge base, skills set, and attitudes desirable in new inclusive teachers. Participants failed to identify an essential knowledge base for inclusive educators. Findings indicated that a focus on skills and attitudes was viewed as desirable, specifically skills related to flexibility, inter-dependence, communication. Participants also valued attitudes related to willingness on the part of new teachers to seek learning opportunities and accept help from other team members.


RÉSUMÉ. Des enseignants travaillant dans un contexte d'inclusion au sein de quatre divisions scolaires du centre du Canada ont participé à des groupes de discussion afin de déterminer s'ils étaient capables d'identifier les connaissances, les compétences et les attitudes que devraient posséder les enseignants oeuvrant dans un tel milieu. Les participants n'ont pas réussi à identifier les connaissances fondamentales essentielles aux enseignants en milieu d'apprentissage inclusif. En fait, les résultats indiquent que le développement de compétences et d'attitudes semblait plus important, particulièrement les compétences liées à la flexibilité, l'interdépendance et la communication. De plus, l'ouverture des nouveaux enseignants face aux opportunités d'apprentissage et à l'aide des autres membres de l'équipe-école était aussi considérée comme un atout.

In 1994, UNESCO made a recommendation to the international educational community that teacher preparation programs include mandatory content about inclusion (UNESCO, 1994). Based on the notion of social justice (Ballard, 2003), inclusion contends that all citizens should have access to equal educational opportunities, regardless of whether those citizens have disabilities or not (Sharma, Forlin, Loreman, & Earle, 2006). According to UNECSO (2009), inclusive education is

an ongoing process aimed at offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and the different needs and abilities, characteristics, and learning expectations of the students and communities, eliminating all forms of discrimination. (p. 3)

Like many other jurisdictions world-wide, provinces in Canada have begun to adopt an inclusive philosophy in their teacher education programs and in their programming for children in schools. Manitoba, a province in central Canada, is no exception. The Manitoba government defines inclusion as it relates to students with disabilities as,

a way of thinking and acting that allows every individual to feel accepted, valued, and safe. An inclusive community consciously evolves to meet the changing needs of its members. Through recognition and support, an inclusive community provides meaningful involvement and equal access to the benefits of citizenship. (Manitoba Education, Training, and Youth, 2006, p. 1)

The purpose of the study was to determine various educational stakeholders' viewpoints on the essential skills sets, attitudes, and beliefs they desire in the newly hired inclusive educators.


Mandatory teacher preparation

Although the government's definition of inclusion specifies that an evolution must occur and that recognition and support must be provided, it does not mandate the processes by which these practices will take place. While support documents are released on an ongoing basis by the Manitoba government, many of the procedures outlined in those documents are not policies mandated within school divisions in Manitoba. School divisions are geographic areas in Manitoba that are controlled by locally elected school boards. In effect, school divisions are provided with the information as well as the flexibility to determine how, and if, the procedures will be incorporated into their practices. …

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