What matters in education. Stories of inclusion, relationships, and a desire to overcome barriers to educational access.

Year: 2021

Author: Cain, Melissa, Phillips, Louise

Type of paper: Symposium

By listening to Australian teachers who noted a specialisation of inclusive practice, or indicated that they worked with students from disadvantaged communities, including students with disability, the data from the Teaching and Learning in COVID-19 Times study survey emphasised how formal education privileges some and isolates others. The deep inequities faced by underrepresented students are deeply concerning. We present three major themes identified: barriers to access; anxiety and despair; and 'new learning communities'. We apply poetic inquiry, in that we craft poems with the data as a means to concentrate meaning, elicit embodied experience (Faulkner, 2018) and to mediate different understandings (Butler-Kisber, 2012; Leggo, 2008a). In particular, we apply found poetry (e.g., see Butler-Kisber, 2002), by highlighting exact words from the survey responses and composing these into found poems by paying attention to poetic devices such as language,sound, and vision (spaces, breaks, form), that speaks of the collective lived realities of teaching and learning during COVID-19 pandemic. We see, like others (e.g., Butler-Kisber, 2002; Faulkner, 2018),thatfound poetry can bring us as researchers closer to the data.The teachers emphasies that during the pandemic, inequities were intensified, particularly for students of colour, with a disability, for whom English is an additional language or dialect, and from challenging family circumstances. These inequities included a lack of access to the internet and computers, but extended past issues of technology. Teachers' clear concerns about their students'welfare were often of greatest consequence.  A decline in mental health, increased exposure to family violence, and social regression were also noted. Students whose parents or carers were unable or unwilling to support them with 'at home' learning, and students with limited skills in self-regulation, fell behind socially and academically, missing necessary support structures and safety nets. As needed, new learning communities and supports emerged as did new relationships and understandings between parents and teachers as a means for reimagining education.ReferencesButler-Kisber, L. (2012). Poetic inquiry. In S. Thomas, A. Cole, & S. Stewart (Eds.), The art of poetic inquiry (pp. 142–176). Backalong Books.Faulkner, S.L. (2018). Poetic inquiry: Poetry as/in/for social research In P. Leavy (Ed.) Handbook of art-based research (pp. 208-230). Guilford PressLeggo, C. (2008a). Astonishing silence: Knowing in poetry. In G. J. Knowles & A. L. Cole (Eds.), Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (pp. 165-174). SAGE.