Professional collaboration and student insights: Are these the not-so-secret ingredients for inclusive pedagogical approaches?

Year: 2019

Author: Tancredi, Haley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Schools are working environments where collaboration is an essential component of the work life of teachers and other professionals. Professional collaboration offers the opportunity to build capacity in all involved and can contribute significantly to the teaching experiences of students with disability in inclusive contexts. Modern schools employ a breadth of professional staff, expanding beyond teachers to also include guidance officers and school psychologists. Increasingly, schools are also accessing allied health professionals and external agencies which involve social workers and medical specialists. While proximity to other professional groups has increased, limited literature exists to guide school leaders and teachers in enacting evidence-based models of professional collaboration. Further barriers to effective collaboration arise when terms used in policy such as “co-teaching” are misappropriated and applied in ways that further exclude students with disability. In this paper, I draw on research data from the Australian context describe a model for professional collaboration that focuses on inter-professional collaborative planning to inform teachers’ pedagogical practices for students with disability in inclusive classrooms. A sequential-phase mixed-method design was used. Across three phases of data collection, information about the students’ own insights on what helps them learn, the students’ profile of strengths and difficulty and teacher’s knowledge of curriculum and pedagogical approaches formed the basis of education adjustments. Pre- and post- measures were used to explore teacher’s confidence and awareness about making adjustments, as well as teachers’ views on enabling factors and barriers to enacting adjustments that were collaboratively designed. Finally, I will describe a theory of change. I propose that inter-professional reciprocity and student-informed pedagogical adjustments have the potential to inform systemic restructuring of school-based collaborations to design inclusive pedagogical practices.