Finding Their Voice: Action Research and Autoethnography in Inclusive Teacher Preparation

Finding Their Voice: Action Research and Autoethnography in Inclusive Teacher Preparation

Bethany M. Rice (Endicott College, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7703-4.ch002

Abstract

Disability studies seeks to promote equitable education for all students through inclusive education. According to Goodley, disability is multifaceted—being political, cultural, and social in nature. Inclusive education is often underrepresented in teacher preparation. Teacher candidates need experience in providing instruction to all students, not just those considered “normal.” In their research on the use of autoethnography with teacher candidates, Rice and Threlkeld identified that while candidates saw a need for social justice, they lacked the necessary skills to take action. Combining autoethnography with action research would fill a void in the field of inclusive teacher preparation. The critical reflection used in autoethnography would potentially identify areas of social justice needed to improve inclusive practices in the classroom. Candidates would then have an opportunity to engage in action research to explore their identified topic. This chapter proposes a method to combine autoethnography and action research to impact social change among teacher candidates.
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Challenges Within One Teacher Preparation Program

Preparing informed, inclusively aware teacher candidates is at the heart of the teacher education program. Over the past year, Endicott College has undergone significant curricular change in the Graduate College to respect and demonstrate these beliefs. While the program is driven by the Massachusetts State Licensure Standards, several opportunities exist within the curriculum to address inclusive education practices, critical self-reflection, and social justice. Yet, despite these initial efforts, important work remains.

Before the curricular changes, teacher candidates engaged in reflective practice frequently. A resounding trend emerged as the reflections were analyzed for quality and impact on classroom practice. The reflections tended to be self-centric, recounts of the teaching day or a description of student issues. While candidates were reflecting, there was little or no impact on practice. To combat this issue, autoethnography was introduced into the curriculum as a way to promote critical reflection.

All teacher candidates take either the Inclusive Education or the Writing Instruction courses as part of their preparation program. These courses were selected, as it was a way to ensure that all teacher candidates would experience this curriculum. Candidates in the program must take one or the other as a required course in the program of study. In addition, all teacher candidates, aside from those seeking professional licensure, are required to complete practicum hours in the classroom through a field-based experience. Professional licensure candidates do take one of the courses listed above, but due to already holding an initial license, these candidates do not need to complete additional practicum hours.

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