INITIAL TEACHER EDUCATION (ITE)Initialteacher education is the first and crucial stage of teachers’ life-longlearning process. It represents the entry point of teacher education combinescourses in subject matter, pedagogy and psychology, methodological anddidactical preparation, and practice in schools (EuropeanCommission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015).”Preparingstudent teachers for diversity implies to support their knowledge and betterunderstanding of the world and its cultures. The need to develop communicationcompetences for diversity emerges from the capacity of teachers to be empathicand reflexive about their own beliefs, cultural and socioeconomic differences”(Public Policy and Management Institute PPMI, 2017a, p.20).
Eventhough an increasing number of countries acknowledge complex professionalrequirements by requiring a teaching qualification at Master’s level, severaldifferent approaches towards ITE in the area of diversity can be foundthroughout European countries. Most usually, it has a form of a single moduleor an elective course that is isolated from the rest of the curricula. Howeverseveral ITE providers across Europe offer degree programs with a specific emphasison diversity or specialized transversal modules, or specializations that haveembedded multilingual or intercultural elements of teacher education. Some ITEproviders offer comprehensive approaches to diversity through well-structuredcourses. Nevertheless, ITE programs need to change so that teachers are betterprepared for diverse, multicultural and multilingual classrooms to enhancelearning. (Arnesen et al., 2010).Anothervery important aspect is to interface theoretical and practical knowledge andexperiences.
Initial Teacher Education is most effective when pedagogicaltheory is combined with both subject knowledge and sufficient classroompractice. Thus, student teachers need to be prepared for collaborative work andcareer-long professional development and for dealing with diversity in theclassrooms. Researches suggest that complementary field experiences areessential to effectively prepare student teachers for classroom diversity. OECD (2010).ITE iscrucial for ensuring quality in the teaching force and has a role in training anew generation of teachers to ensure inclusiveness and a shift towards new waysof organizing teaching and learning in diverse school environment. Fragmentedcurriculums of ITE programs has to be re-think but not on the basis of „add-on”courses that deals with the diversity as a deficit or burden but as a crosscurriculum topic that offers an opportunity to enrich learning for all. INDUCTIONTeachersneed special support during the early stages of their careers.
Schoolenvironment is a very challenging place for newly arrived teachers and withoutany help or support, teachers find it difficult to bear and drop out of theprofession. (European Commission, 2017b) If done properly, the adaptationphase, or so-called induction, can help to reduce this dropout rate, moreover,it can boost quality of teaching and support professionalism in schools.Therefore induction can serve as a bridge between initial and continuouseducation of teachers. While considering induction programs, the theme ofdiversity should be taken into an account and should be included as across-curricular topic. Preparingyoung teachers for diversity at the induction stage has been implemented inseveral countries across Europe. In Spain, compulsory primary educationinduction programs aim to prepare student teachers to teach students with adiverse background, focusing on second language teaching, interculturalcompetences and special educational needs. These courses are offered by someuniversities either as specific courses in summer term or as a part of electivecurriculum. In Italy, for example, newly-employed teachers have to attend a50-hour course, organized by the local School Directorate under the Ministry’sguidelines.
In 2015, the Ministry pointed out eight priority topics for ITE andinduction, which still need to be practically implemented by ITE institutions,including special educational needs, fighting early school leaving, socialinclusion and intercultural dynamics (Public Policy and Management InstitutePPMI, 2017a)Astructured support phase for newly qualified teachers is considered crucialalso by teachers who need to overcome possible “praxis shock” and who need tofeel more secure and confident in the first stage of their career. CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (CPD)Teachingrequires both a high level of expertise and continuous development. The desireto stay up-to-date with the needs and changes of a society should be a part ofevery teacher. Teaching is a mission and teachers should feel the importance ofeducation not only for those who they educate, but also for their owndevelopment. For teacher’s career, it is important to reflect on and update hismethods and be aware of his competences. Teachers themselves report thatimportant areas for student support are often not sufficiently covered by CPD,such as (1) teaching cross-curricular skills (2) teaching in multilingual andmulticultural settings (3) student career guidance and counselling (4) teachingstudents with special educational needs (5) new technology in the workplace and(6) approaches to individualized learning (European Commission, 2017a). Above all,to make easier for teachers to voluntarily follow the way of lifelong learningpath, continuous professional development should be accessible, affordable andrelevant for all teachers.
These three factors were found to play the main rolein teachers’ participation in CPD, which is according to recent reports verylow. (European Commission, 2017b)Whatconcerns the topic of diversity, involving schools and teachers in agreeing onpriority topics can help improve the relevance of CPD in the offer of languageteaching skills and intercultural competences. Except traditional courses (thatare often costly and organized outside schools), collaborative or school-basedformats such as peer observation, cooperation with other colleagues etc. have apotential to support teachers in their education. (European Commission, 2017a)TEACHER EDUCATORS “Teachereducators have a decisive role in developing effective and innovativecurricula, pedagogical practices and tools, thus building the foundation forreflectivity, openness and innovation in ITE” (Public Policy and ManagementInstitute PPMI, 2017a, p.68). Throughout the teacher’s life cycle, teachereducators are those whole have an impact on the quality of professionallearner-centered teacher; those who form new pedagogical generations by beingan example and those who undertake a key research that develops our understandingof teaching and learning.
(European Commission, 2012) Nevertheless, whileteacher educators are seen as the key actors, they were found to be rarelyprepared to teach ITE curricula for diversity (European Commission, 2017a). Thecomplexity of the profession of teacher educator and the growing challenges itfaces to better prepare student teachers for diversity underline the importanceof ensuring the quality of teacher educators’ initial and continuousprofessional development. In most European countries, teacher educatorsgenerally do not benefit from any initial education, and only limitedinduction, moreover in most countries do not have systematic approaches toprepare teacher educators to deal with diversity-related issues in ITE. AdaptedCPD opportunities should therefore better prepare teachers to take diversityinto account in the process of teaching, as well as to appropriately welcomeand support student teachers with a migrant/minority background. In the sameway as there is a request for careful selection of student teachers whorepresent the bests of the best from a society, according to recent research,also teacher educators should be better selected and prepared to teach studentteachers for diversity. It is suggested that a lifelong learning approachshould be adopted when defining clearer professional requirements for potentialteacher educators. Teacher educators should gain the insights and thecapacities to educate future teachers within competence frameworks that includecompetences for diversity.
(European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2013). ONLINE TOOLS FOR IN-SERVICE/PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS AND TEACHEREDUCATORS Digitaltechnologies have a huge importance in education for all who are being educatedin today’s society and therefore cannot be forgotten either in this paper withthe relation to teacher training. Massiveopen online courses (MOOCs), e-learning projects, websites for teachers toshare good practices and many more, these are useful tools of 21st century forfurther education of teachers. Digital technologies represent opportunities forcollaborative learning, networking and online library of resources forteachers. For example, teachers in all stages (pre-service and in-service) andat all levels of education are an important target group for massive openonline courses (MOOCs). (EuropeanCommission, 2017a) Teachers can benefit from online communities and resourcesfor school professionals, including eTwinning environment for student teachers,online networks for early career teachers and their mentors, courses, exchangeof best practice and recourses among providers of Initial Teacher Education anda Digital Competence Framework in order to support teachers’ self-confidence,self-assessment and further development (European Commission, 2017b)To be morespecific, here are few examples. Europe’s online platform for school educationcalled School Education Gateway is a single point of entry for teachers, schoolleaders, policy makers, experts and other professionals in the school educationfield.
The including part Teacher Academy allows teachers to discover a widerange of training opportunities and resources for their classroom(SchoolEducationGateway, n.d.). Another example can be an online tool in Spain(Una Guía para aplicar la educación intercultural en la escuela) that servesin-service and pre-service teachers to reflect their own attitudes towardsdiversity and helps them to work with diversity in their classrooms (PublicPolicy and Management Institute PPMI, 2017b). CONCLUSIONTeachersare core actors in transmitting values and attitudes of tolerance and opennesstowards diversity.
Investing in the quality of teachers requires efforts tolink all the phases of teacher education – from ITE and induction through tocareer-long CPD. Teacher educators in different settings including schools anduniversities should work together with school authorities, school leaders,teachers’ unions, NGOs, governmental organizations and other stakeholders toassure that professional development can be relevant, effective and coherent(European Commission, 2017a).Teachertraining in all stages should systematically include training on interculturaland gender-sensitive skills, language learning, and the specific needs ofmigrant learners. This should motivate teachers to value heterogeneity in aclassroom and encourage other learners to do the same. Another important factoris to support and develop the communication with learners’ families andrecognize the value of learners’ diverse cultural backgrounds.
All of these cancontribute to better assimilation with the language of instruction and itsmastering (SIRIUS Network, 2014).To sum itup, “… there is strong evidence that teachers are open to change, and keen tolearn and develop throughout their careers. At the same time, they need thetime and space to take more initiative to work with colleagues and schoolleaders and to take advantage of opportunities for professional development… “(UNESCO, 2016, p. 54).