Models For Training Teachers For Work In A Heterogeneous Educational Environment

Abstract

The article discusses the ways of training teachers for work in a heterogeneous educational environment. In a situation of cultural, ethnic, religious, and social diversity expansion in society, it is necessary to design various models for training teachers to work with heterogeneous groups and organizations. The authors analyze the most common models of teacher training based on the generalization of Russian and international experience. The criteria of analysis include comprehensive training of teachers for professional activity in the conditions of diversity; availability of Master degree programs; degree of these programs’ continuity with the Bachelor degree programs; representation of diversity in international projects. Based on these criteria, the authors identify continuous (longitudinal), single-level, fragmentary, discrete and situation-consulting models of training teachers to work with heterogeneous groups and organizations. The article considers the continuous model as the most optimal one which provides a wide range of competencies necessary for a teacher to work in a heterogeneous environment. This model includes best practices that are reflected in international projects of the “Erasmus+” program. The advantage of the continuous model is in ensuring the continuity of educational programs implemented at various levels (Bachelor’s, Master’s, and professional development) and gradual expansion of the range of knowledge and skills that are in demand in a heterogeneous society. The implementation of the continuous model in the university practice is illustrated by the cases of implementing Master degree programs for training teachers and educational managers at Russian and foreign universities.

Keywords: Continuous model of teacher trainingdiversityheterogeneous groups and organizationsheterogeneous educational environmentinternational projectslifelong learning

Introduction

Presently, development of education is going on in the conditions of continuous expansion of cultural, ethnic, religious, intellectual and social diversity. This process contains both a significant potential for the development of educational systems and risks associated with a mixed composition of teaching personnel including heterogeneous groups that often causes staff turnover; with the need to take into account different opinions of representatives of various heterogeneous groups which significantly slows down the process of making managerial decisions; with diverse target aims of various social groups representatives that impede communication in an educational organization (Pevzner, Sherayzina et al., 2017).

An increase in the degree of heterogeneity of the cultural and educational environment of modern society coincides with an insufficient level of teachers and educational managers’ readiness for professional activities in such an environment. At the same time, the requirement for the teacher to work with different children within one group is enshrined in law in the “Professional Standard of a Teacher”, which in January, 2017 entered into force in Russia (Professional’nyi standard, 2013). In this document the development and use of psychological and pedagogical technologies, inclusive as well, necessary for targeted work with various groups of students are highlighted among the teachers’ competences. In addition, the teacher should be ready to create a positive psychological climate and conditions for friendly relations among children in the group, considering those who belong to different national, cultural, religious communities and social strata, as well as children’s health peculiarities, including special as well (Zabrodin, 2014).

Therefore, the training of teachers and educational managers for work in heterogeneous educational organizations, where personnel is becoming less homogeneous and includes a large number of typological groups different from each other in age, gender, social origin and health, is particularly relevant (Pevzner, Petryakov et al., 2017). Based on this, the given study focused on the development of models and the concept of training a teacher who, in an inclusive environment, has to interact with various categories of students with special educational needs: both those who are gifted and are having peculiarities in their physical, intellectual, and social development.

Problem Statement

Based on the relevance of the study, its scientific problem is to identify effective ways of training both would-be and acting teachers for work with heterogeneous groups through specialized educational programs or their separate fragments (training modules, modular elements, elective courses). The continuity of the curriculum content at different levels of teacher education (Bachelor’s, Master’s, professional development) is considered important. In this context, it is necessary to search for the most optimal model of teacher training in a heterogeneous environment. The research team made the assumption that the most optimal model for such training can be a multilevel continuous model that allows teachers to acquire the necessary competencies at various levels of education, starting with the undergraduate to the professional development system. This assumption correlates with the main provisions of the concept of “lifelong education” (Rybakina, 2018).

Research Questions

In connection with the task, the article seeks answers to the following research questions:

3.1. What experience has been gained in training teachers for work in a heterogeneous environment in Russian and foreign educational practice?

3.2. What best practices can be recommended for implementation at Russian universities?

3.3. What models of teacher training are prevalent in Russian and foreign universities, and which of them allow teachers to master the competencies necessary for working with heterogeneous groups and organizations?

Purpose of the Study

To develop models for training teachers for work with heterogeneous groups and organizations in regards to current trends in the development of society in a diverse environment.

Research Methods

The research was based on a trans-disciplinary methodological paradigm, which considers the interaction not only between specific scientific disciplines (in our case, pedagogy and management), but also explores the phenomenon of diversity in society, culture, science and education (Guseltseva, 2018).

In this study the trans-disciplinary methodological strategy was concretized using the following scientific and methodological approaches: system-synergetic, environmental, information-marketing.

The following research methods were used:

  • comparative, allowing for identification and analysis of the most common in Russia and abroad models of training teachers for work in a heterogeneous educational environment;

  • theoretical and analytical: theoretical analysis of psychological, pedagogical, philosophical, sociological literature on the research problem, relevant experience in the field of teacher education, content analysis of documents, analysis of websites of Russian and foreign universities;

  • nomothetic (generalizing), allowing for a holistic view of the object of study;

  • modeling and design, which were used in the development of models for training teachers to work with heterogeneous groups and organizations.

The research team analyzed the most common models of training teachers for work with heterogeneous groups and organizations in Russian and foreign universities. The criteria for the analysis of the models were the complexity of preparing future teachers for professional activities in the conditions of diversity; the presence of Master degree training programs; the degree of continuity of these programs with the Bachelor degree programs; presence of diversity topics in international projects of the European “Erasmus +” program.

Findings

Based on the study of relevant international experience in the training of teachers and original sources, the extent of the distribution of diversity issues in the European educational space was analyzed. One of the indicators of interest in the topic of diversity in European educational institutions can be the results of the “Jean Monet” and “Erasmus +” calls announced annually by one of the leading European grantors - the European Commission.

Analyzing the topics of grant applications submitted for consideration to the Erasmus + program, it can be noted that for the period 2014 - 2018, the program funded 221 projects / networking and 588 modules as part of the “Jean Monet” initiative. Of 221 projects, only 5 contain the term diversity in their title, which makes up no more than 2% of all applications that received funding. Of the 588 modules of “Jean Monnet”, only 4 contain the term diversity in their title, which is less than 1% (Erasmus+, n.d.). In our opinion, such results testify not so much to the loss of interest in the topic of diversity in Western Europe, but to the perception of diversity as a natural characteristic of social life.

As the study showed, various models of training teachers for work in a heterogeneous educational environment are implemented in foreign universities. So, one of the leading universities in Romania - the Babeș-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca) - implements a continuous model, offering an end-to-end educational program (continuous model), which covers both the level of secondary and higher education. According to the authors of the project, the responsibility for continuing the process of building a multicultural, inclusive European society lies with today’s children, who can become tomorrow’s European leaders (Iov et al., 2018).

An example of a fragmented model is the training for managing heterogeneous groups and organizations offered by Mutah University (Jordan). The only module that received funding in 2017 as part of Jean Monet, whose title contains the term diversity management , was developed by a representative of Mutah University (Kerak, Jordan) based on the curriculum in International Business and Management at the British University of Kent (University of Kent, n.d.).

Along with fragmented, single-level models of training teachers for work with heterogeneous groups and organizations are quite widespread in European universities. In particular, within the framework of the Erasmus + program, consortia of universities from around the world are implementing Master degree programs, which result in the issuance of joint diplomas after studying or conducting research work in two or more universities. During 2016-2019, 153 joint “Erasmus +” Master degree programs received funding from the EU. Of this number, eight programs (5%) contain in their names the terms migration , intercultural relations , global context , social change , addressing the issues of human interaction in the context of globalization and social changes caused by migration processes.

Only one program out of 153 (European Master in the Psychology of Global Mobility, Inclusion and Diversity in Society (574444-EPP-1-2016-1-PT-EPPKA1-JMD-MOB INSTITUTO UNIVERSITARIO DE LISBOA)) contains the term diversity and is directly related to the training of specialists for work in various heterogeneous organizations, including educational ones (Erasmus +).

Unlike foreign countries, where heterogeneity is seen as an integral part of the educational landscape, in Russia even the country’s leading universities pay little attention to preparing young professionals for work with heterogeneous groups and organizations. Basically, only those universities that have joint educational programs with foreign partners or were participants in national and international educational projects give the topic of society heterogeneity a proper place in their curricula (Muravyeva & Gorylev, 2016).

In Russia, considerable experience has been gained in the training of teachers in the system of multilevel higher education (Kasprzhak & Kalashnikov, 2015). Based on materials from open Internet sources (websites of educational organizations, advertising materials for applicants, curricula, topics of final qualification works, etc.), the study analyzed the existing models of training future teachers and educational managers in Russian universities for work with heterogeneous groups and organizations. The amount of information in open access does not allow reaching final conclusions, but preliminary conclusions can be drawn that most universities in Russia do not have separate training programs for future teachers and educational managers in working with heterogeneous groups and organizations. Basically, in their educational practice, universities use a fragmented model that allows introducing separate modules on the topic of diversity into educational programs.

In the educational practice of Russian universities, there are several examples of successful implementation of a continuous model in the field of training to work with heterogeneous groups and organizations. The Master degree program “Educational Management in a Heterogeneous Organization” (44.04.01) is currently being implemented in four universities of the Russian Federation; in 2013-2016, these universities participated in the international project TEMPUS IV/VI “Training teachers and educational managers to work with heterogeneous groups and organizations” (Vologda State University, Ryazan State University named after S. Yesenin, Tyumen State University, Yaroslav the Wise Novgorod State University).

The above models are spread not only in Russian, but also in Belarus universities. Thus, at Vitebsk State University named after P. M. Masherov and Mozyr State Pedagogical University named after I.P. Shamyakin a continuous model of training is dominant; it embraces a two-stage system of teacher training and is aimed at training teachers for work with various typological groups of children with special educational needs. Besides, Belarus universities are paying special attention to the training of teachers for work with children who have peculiarities of psycho-physical development (as cited in Pevzner et al., 2019).

Thus, the analysis showed that in modern conditions of higher education development, fragmentary and single-level models of training future teachers and educational managers to work with heterogeneous groups and organizations are most common. However, in some cases, preference is given to discrete and situation-consulting training models. The continuous model of teacher training has not been widely adopted in the educational practice of Russian universities.

Conclusion

Systematic professional training of teachers and educational managers to work with heterogeneous groups and organizations requires not only to create necessary conditions for the organization of the educational process at the university, but also to design varied models of teacher training.

According to the criterion “duration and degree of continuity of teacher training”, the following models are identified in the study:

  • continuous (longitudinal);

  • single-level;

  • fragmented;

  • discrete;

  • situation-consulting.

A study of Russian and foreign experience in training teachers for work in a heterogeneous educational environment has shown that the continuous model is the most optimal. This model assumes a consistent, multi-level end-to-end program for training teachers to work in a heterogeneous environment, covering all levels of their education (Bachelor’s, Master’s, professional development). A feature of this model is the continuity of educational programs, the gradual and consistent expansion from level to level of the range of competencies required by the teacher and educational manager for professional activities in an inclusive environment (Khlybova, 2018).

An example of the implementation of the continuous model is the training of teachers in the framework of the European project TEMPUS IV: “Training teachers and educational managers to work with heterogeneous groups and organizations” (543873-TEMPUS-1-2013-1-DE-TEMPUS-JPCR). During the implementation of this project at 7 universities of Russia, 2 universities of the Republic of Belarus, 3 universities of Ukraine, modular clusters for undergraduate studies, educational programs for Master degree program, postgraduate and professional development programs were developed and put into practice. These cases can be considered as the best practice to be recommended for implementation at Russian universities (Dementyeva & Kiryanova, 2017).

In contrast to the continuous model, a single-level model focuses on the training of teachers at one of the levels of study (Bachelor’s, Master’s, etc.). Most often, such training is carried out at the Master degree program level. Education at the Master degree level allows organizing narrow-profile training of teachers and educational managers and creating the necessary conditions for theoretical knowledge application in practical activities.

The fragmentary model presupposes separate modules within the main educational program aimed at the formation of inclusive competence among teachers and managers of educational organizations.

The discrete model implies the possibility for teachers to obtain additional competencies in the field of diversity at various stages of their professional activity within the framework of the concept of “Lifelong Learning” (Zeer et al., 2019). Teachers can turn to the study of problems of diversity at various levels of continuous pedagogical education without observing the strict sequence of education stages. Thus, some of the competencies necessary for work in a heterogeneous environment can be formed at the undergraduate level, the lack of knowledge is eliminated bypassing the second stage of higher education during professional development courses or retraining.

The situation-consulting model, which is implemented in real-time mode, is quite popular among teachers and educational managers. This model is used when teachers encounter situations of professional difficulty connected with diversity. To remove these difficulties, they turn to experienced consultants in special structures (centers of inclusive education, specialized university departments, regional centers for the development of education, etc.), where teachers can receive qualified methodological assistance. However, it should be noted that the situation-consulting model cannot replace the fundamental multi-level training of teachers and managers of educational organizations for work in an inclusive environment. The models presented above can be used as the basis for designing social and pedagogical strategies for the interaction of teachers and educational managers with heterogeneous groups and organizations.

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Publisher

European Publisher

First Online

27.05.2021

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.02.200

Online ISSN

2357-1330