Teaching Diverse Learners: Conceptualisations and Pedagogies of Preschool Teachers

Project Number
OER 04/08 SL

Project Duration
April 2009 - August 2011

Status
Completed

Abstract
The proposed research project aims to advance knowledge about how a group of Singapore preschool teachers make sense of their teaching and work towards their own goals in high quality teaching, given the increasing diversity of children entering preschools. This interpretive research will highlight ''insider'' knowledge (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993) about teaching and learning, to: 1) explore teachers' knowledge and understanding(s) of ''diversity'' among the children in their early childhood classrooms and their corresponding pedagogies that cater to diverse learners; and 2) pilot a process of creating and using prototype web documentations of culturally relevant teaching and teacher knowledge to enhance teacher inquiry/learning and sharing. Such a research purpose is in line with educational research that supports Singapore's ability-driven education system within the national vision of becoming a ''global city'' and an inclusive society (i.e. ''Singapore 21'' report). The study will be exploring individual teacher conceptualizations of ''diverse learners'' and how these specific conceptualizations guide their classroom pedagogy. We believe that teachers who make sense of their practice and enact curriculum in culturally responsive ways hold the key to unlocking individual potential for active citizenship and contribution within the layered complexities of a globalizing society/world. A process in this research will be teacher learning through focus group interviews, examining one another's images of practice. An outcome of this project will be prototype web documentations of culturally responsive teaching and individual teachers' reflective inquiry. These documentations will provide multiple images of practice that could enhance teacher learning. These web documentations will feature video clips of classroom action, teacher talk, choice of teaching resources, and critical reflection / evaluation of their own teaching, extending the work already done by researchers such as Thomas Hatch in a project funded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the work of the National Centre for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST). These prototypes can be found on the websites of both organisations: http://gallery.carnegiefoundation.org/ and http://www.tc.edu/ncrest/images.htm ). Such web documentations facilitate teacher conversation and provide images for pre-service training, they will also increase public knowledge of the complex nature of teaching/learning of teachers, and show what individual teachers actually do in the classroom to work with and address the needs of diverse learners (e.g. How do teachers figure out who needs what in differentiating instruction? How do they take into account students' different abilities as well as interests and backgrounds in helping them meet curriculum/exam requirements?) The sample in this proposed study will be 4 to 6 preschool teachers who have been recognized as ''outstanding'' by the Ministry of Education (from years 2007-2009) or recognized by stakeholders (e.g. parents, community) as being ''high quality''. The study will be conducted in two phases, with 2 to 3 teachers in each phase. Each phase includes data collection and analysis, hence the two phases spiral with cumulative analyses.

Research Themes
Teacher Learning/PLCs/Lesson Studies

Funding Source
NIE

Related Links
ReEd Vol. 9: Preschool Teaching at Its Best

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