Early career teacher experience in teaching students with diverse learning needs in general education classes: a constructivist grounded theory study

Year: 2019

Author: Chamlin, Tracey

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation will outline a current constructivist grounded theory study designed to better understand the experience of early career teachers (ECT) teaching students with diverse learning needs in general education classrooms. Preliminary findings will also be discussed. Inclusive education, grounded in the notion of social justice and equity, is an expectation of Australian schools and classrooms. As such, ECT are expected to effectively cater for the diverse learning needs of all students in their classroom from day one of their teaching profession. Early career teachers are expected to be “classroom ready”, meaning they must be confident and competent in the “complex skills… knowledge and teaching practices” (TEMAG, 2014, p. xiii) needed to meet the expectations of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL, 2011) from graduation. This also implies an understanding and ability to develop positive relationships, and work in collaborative partnership with a range of educational stakeholders to ensure appropriate and equitable teaching and learning for all students. Exact numbers are difficult to ascertain; however, the early years of teaching can also be a time when ECT choose to leave the profession, with heavy workload and lack of support commonly identified as a reason. While research has focused on the perceptions, actions, and or behaviours of teachers, there has been less focus specifically on the lived experience of ECT professional practice as related to teaching and learning for a wider range of diverse learners in general education classrooms. As a qualitative study utilsing a constructivist grounded theory methodology, data has been collected through intensive interviews with self-nominated ECT teaching in general education classrooms. A brief explanation of the research methodology and methods will also be provided in this presentation. An expected outcome of this grounded theory research is the development of substantive theory of the day to day lived experience of early career teachers teaching students with diverse learning needs in general education classrooms. This will contribute a deeper understanding of early career teacher practice in inclusive educational settings and in turn can be used to inform school and jurisdictional policy to ensure early career teachers are appropriately supported to implement inclusive and equitable teaching practices throughout these important professional years.

Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG). (2014). Action now: Classroom ready teachers. Retrieved from: https://www.education.gov.au/teacher-education-ministerial-advisory-group

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). (2011). Australian professional standards for teachers. Retrieved from: https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards