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My thesis topic “Teachers’ competencies in inclusive education at International School of Astana: concerns, challenges and recommendations”

You-Know-You_re-A-Working-Mom-When…

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Choosing the topic of the thesis is not an easy task. I remember when our Vice Dean, Jason Sparks, said a joke about our theses that they would be as our second husbands, since we would fall asleep and wake up in the morning thinking about it. This is what I am feeling now and especially felt when I was choosing the thesis topic.  Being confused, I decided to consult with my colleague who had graduated master degree at NU. So, with the help of hers I decided to investigate teachers’ competencies in the sphere of inclusive education at the school I work now.

The research site has several students with special educational needs. One of them is my student who has an infantile cerebral palsy that does not allow him to write as quickly as other regular students and it usually inhibits the educational process. While collaborative planning with the teachers of his other subjects or with my co-teachers, I have realized that there is a limited knowledge about differentiating the instructions and using multiple means of representation, and more than that, some teachers feel pity towards students with the impairments and try to raise them the marks or, due to lack of knowledge, the student is remained without attention. However, one of the core values of teachers’ competence regarding inclusive education is “supporting all learners, promoting the academic and social learning of all learners” (Forlin, 2012, p.205). Concerning about the fact that teachers are probably not well prepared for inclusive education, the current paper is going to be very timely, especially for International School in Astana, as there is no particular research conducted. This study is significant for all teachers who teach students with special educational needs, as identifying problematic side, the ways of solving the problem can be identified and suggested. So, this study is going to evaluate and identify the concerns of teachers and provide possible recommendations to overtake them.

It is crucial to identify teachers’ personal assessment of their ability and practical challenges faced by them because it can affect the teachers’ performance and the progress of students with SEN in the classroom (Hammond & Ingalls, 2003; Sideridis & Chandler, 1996; Van Reusen, Shoho, & Barker, 2001). So, the raise of teachers’ awareness and preparedness in terms of inclusive pedagogy is essential in order to meet the needs of community and develop inclusive atmosphere in society, as teachers educate a new generation that build the future of Kazakhstan.

References

Forlin, C. (2012). Future directions for inclusive teacher education. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis group.

Hammond, H., & Ingalls, L. (2003). Teachers Attitudes toward Inclusion: Survey Results from Elementary School Teachers in Three Southwestern Rural School Districts. Rural Special Education Quarterley, 22(2), 24-30.

Sideridis, G. D., & Chandler, J. P. (1996). Comparison of attitudes of teachers of physical and musical education toward inclusion of children with disabilities. Psychological Reports, 78(3), 768-771.

Van Reusen, A. K., Shoho, A. R., & Barker, K. S. (2001). High School Teacher Attitudes toward Inclusion. The High School Journal, 84(2), 7-17.

Literature Review in my research study

Literature-Review

Image credit https://www.researchgate.net/post/Does_anyone_use_literature_mapping_in_their_literature_review

The process of reviewing the literature is one of the crucial parts in research work. It gives directions to you further research and provides a broad understanding on whether to investigate a particular topic or not. As noted by Vickers and Offredy (n.d.) literature review ‘provides an up-to-date understanding of the subject and its significance to (your) practice’. Indeed, access to international researchers’ ideas, understandings, methods and findings gives us an opportunity to develop a complex set of skills as a young researcher. Once, on the course of “Educational reforms in Kazakhstan” our professor Sulushash Kerimkulova said that ten resources are enough for the final paper. All of us were so relieved, as it seemed not so much for us. However, after a while, the professor continued that, in order to find these ten resources, we need to read hundreds. A Russian researcher Sergey Vavilov agrees with it and says that a modern man stands in front of the Himalayas libraries in the position of the gold prospector, who must find a grain of gold in the mass of sand. So, finding a relevant literature is a hard work and needs a strong will-power, however, the more literature you reviewed, the richer and more resourceful will be your research.

My thesis is aimed to investigate the competence of primary year teachers on teaching in inclusive classrooms. In order to receive a broader range of teachers’ experiences and better understand the challenges they face in teaching students with special educational needs I decided to review studies conducted not only in Kazakhstan, but also discussions of the international literature of teachers’ competence in inclusive classrooms. This topic has been investigated a lot and it was easy for me to study it from different perspectives. However, in order not to be buried under the mass of literature I found, I decided to allocate the primary and secondary sources into different folders, such as “Kazakhstani experience” and “Other countries”. Moreover, I designed a mind map where I wrote the authors’ names and date, their key findings and methodology they used. The picture above illustrates exactly how I see the process of reviewing relative literature on the investigated topic. It helped me to see the parallels of different researchers work and then to do my own parallel. For instance, I cited Yeun, Westwood and Wong (2004, as cited in Frolin, 2010) who claims that as teaching is getting ‘progressively more multifaceted’ (p.161) a teacher has totally different role in a regular classroom, recent studies demonstrate that a lot of classroom teachers are not confident in integrated lessons with special-needs students and do not reflect willingness to have inclusive education in their lessons. Indeed, from my personal conversation with the teacher, who teaches a student with cerebral palsy as me, says that teachers are more confident in teaching students with SEN and have more positive attitude when they are aware of appropriate teaching approach and have enough skills and knowledge. A proper literature review will lead to a good comparison for your own research findings (Vickers & Offredy, n.d.).

As for challenges in my thesis now, I found difficult to paraphrase correctly. It needs a lot academic skills and proofreading. Moreover, literature reviewing requires an analytical view, which is, in my opinion, also the skill of professional researchers. The Literature Review in my thesis is divided into three subtopics so far, which are teachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education in Kazakhstan, teachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education in other countries, and teachers’ competence in teaching inclusive classrooms. Now I am working on enriching the last subtopic, and I would like to add more findings of other international researchers and their methodologies and while reading develop my own analytical view.

References

Vickers P., Offredy M., (n.d.). Writing a research proposal. Retrieved from http://www.health.herts.ac.uk/immunology/Web%20programme%20-%20Researchhealthprofessionals/

Yeun, M., Westwood P. & Wong G., (2004). Meeting the needs of students with specific learning difficulties in the mainstream education system: data from primary school teachers in Hong Kong. International Journal of Special Education.