Preparing teachers to include all learners with head, heart and hands: an international perspective

Umesh Sharma, Stella Laletas, Thomas O'Toole, Simon Finkelstein, Missy Morton, Elias Avramidis, Christine Grove, Anna Laktionova, Mervi Kaukko

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    It is argued that for regular teachers to include all learners, irrespective of their diversity, we must prepare teachers who are fully committed to teach all learners (i.e. have the heart of inclusive teachers); are knowledgeable about necessary skills to include all learners (i.e. the head of inclusive teachers); and, are able to practice inclusive practices in their classrooms(i.e. have the hands of inclusive teachers) (Rouse, 2010; Shulman, 2004, Sharma, 2018). Preparing teachers with heart, head and hands  (i.e. 3H) is not easy. It requires teacher educators to pay close attention to different aspects of the course. Teacher educators need to explicitly create activities that will enhance pre-service teachers’ commitment to teach learners with a range of diversities. University educators also need to make sure that pre-service teachers learn about the critical skills that make them confident in including all learners (Sharma, 2018).  Some of these skills include ability to self-reflect, ability to co-teach with other professionals, ability to use a range of teaching strategies such as peer tutoring, cooperative learning and differentiated instruction, ability to adjust curriculum to suit each learner’s needs and capacity (EADSNE, 2010). In addition, pre-service teachers need to learn about how to authentically involve parents and carers in the education of their children. Lastly, pre-service teachers should be able to demonstrate they are inclusive in their teaching practice when they actual teach in a real  classroom setting (Florian & Rouse, 2009). Perhaps it (practising inclusion) is the most difficult aspect of pre-service teacher preparation for a number of reasons (Florian & Rouse, 2009; Sharma, 2018). The reasons include lack of placement settings where pre-service teachers could apply the skills acquired as the school may not believe in inclusive education and may not have mentor teachers who have adequate knowledge and skills to include learners with a range of diversities.
    In this symposium, we will share our experiences of implementing heart-head-hands framework in three countries  Bangladesh, Solomon Islands and Australia. The 3H model was implemented in Bangladesh using a train the trainer model in close collaboration with a national university and Ministry of Education. A three year evaluation of the project revealed significant positive changes in classroom practices of teachers. The 3H model was also used with teacher educators of a national university in Solomon Islands using an infusion model (where inclusion is everyone’s responsibility). Two years after the implementation of the program, positive impacts were noticed in the attitudes, concerns and efficacy of pre-service teachers graduating from the program. Key lessons learnt from Bangladesh and Solomon Islands were used to design a comprehensive project where Monash University partnered with a large secondary school in Victoria, Australia. The partnership involved co-designing and co-teaching with school educators about heart and head aspects. In order to ensure heart and head aspects transformed teaching practices (i.e. hands), some pre-service teachers (n=10) completed their field experience in the partner school. The partnership made a significant impact on all participants (n=125) involved in the course (including those pre-service teachers who completed their field experience in other schools). Each of the other three presentations included in this symposium will report how partnership positively influenced the development of course (Paper 1), how it positively influenced the co-delivery of the course (Paper 2); and how it impacted on attitude, concerns, self efficacy and intentions of pre-service teachers. Each presentation will present implications of the findings for teacher education who are keen to ensure that gaps between theory and practice of inclusive education are addressed when they prepare pre-service teachers who have heart, head and hands of a true inclusive educator.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventEuropean Conference for Education Research: ECER 2019: Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future - University of Hamburg, Hamburg , Germany
    Duration: 3 Sept 20196 Sept 2019


    ConferenceEuropean Conference for Education Research: ECER 2019
    Abbreviated titleECER 2019
    Internet address

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