Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Analyzing the Coaching Based Professional Development Process of a Special Education Teacher

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Analyzing the Coaching Based Professional Development Process of a Special Education Teacher

Article excerpt

It is of paramount significance that teachers develop themselves professionally, improving their theoretical knowledge, practice, and technological skills, as these elements play a crucial role in their teaching qualities throughout their professional life (Hunzicker, 2011; Rhodes & Beneicke, 2002). Accordingly, regular emphasis has been given to change and development in the nature of teaching profession (Loucks-Horsley, Love, Stiles, Mundry, & Hewson, 2003). As for teaching, professional development is defined as one of many processes providing effective teaching and learning environments by improving teachers' knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes (O'Gorman & Drudy, 2011). Ample amount of research within the literature has concluded that teaching quality - and thus students' success - can be enhanced by refining teachers' professional development (e.g., Costa & Garnsten, 2002; Obara, 2010).

Since the need for change and improvement in the teaching profession concerns all fields within education and educational sciences, professional development is a vital matter for teachers working in the field of special education (Easterbrooks, 2011; Sawyer, 2015). The rationale as to why special education teachers should develop themselves professionally are as follows: (i) the needs of school-age children have positively changed due to the expansion of early diagnosis and educational opportunities, (ii) advances in technological devices and systems, (e.g., hearing aids and cochlear implants), and (iii) new educational and instructional practices based on evidence (Cantrell & Hughes, 2008; Sawyer, 2015). In this regard, the professional development of teachers working with hearing impaired students who have language and communication barriers should also be considered crucial (Pakulski, 2011). Accordingly, two qualities that teachers of hearing impaired students should be competent about are ascertaining the baseline performance levels and holding either group or one-on-one conversations (Mahon, 2009; Spencer & Marschark, 2006). The ability to conduct conversations is a competence of critical importance for teachers of hearing impaired students because not only are these children's language and communication skills very weak; they also have poor verbal language skills and a very limited vocabulary (Cole & Flexer, 2016; Pakulski, 2011). Congruently, teachers of the hearing impaired are advised to plan one-on-one conversations with these children in order to support the development of their verbal language and communication skills (Mahon, 2009). One-on-one conversation is defined as a process during which a teacher and a student share their opinions and feelings about a planned event or character with the purpose of creating a reciprocal interaction atmosphere (Spencer & Marschark, 2006). In this sense, educators aim to teach this skill to future teachers of hearing impaired students via theoretical courses and teaching practice during undergraduate years (Easterbrooks, 2011; O'Gorman & Drudy, 2011).

Along with the need for professional development of teachers, including special education teachers, the literature is also heavy in terms of discussions concerning methods to facilitate this development in the most effective manner (Obara, 2010; Orland-Barak, 2010). In this respect, short-term and large-scale professional development activities, such as seminars and certificate programs, have received negative criticism due to their offering limited interaction opportunities (Orland-Barak, 2010). Studies indicate the importance of constant and systematic professional development approaches based on one-on-one cooperation (Hunzicker, 2011; Jovanova-Mitkovska, 2010; Lowenhaupt, McKinney, & Reeves, 2013). The importance of continuity has been underlined very frequently in studies on the professional development of teachers (Jovanova-Mitkovska, 2010; Orland-Barak, 2010). Accordingly, the notion of Continuing Professional Development [CPD], meaning ongoing support for teachers while employed in their profession, has been devised by scholars (Jovanova-Mitkovska, 2010). …

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