Prompting beginning teachers to purposefully consider and implement differentiation: Connecting frameworks to targeted actions

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McKay, Loraine M

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Lennon, Sherilyn F

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Beginning teachers often experience a range of challenges in their early years of teaching. From the complexities associated with planning sizeable learning sequences to the micro-skills required for classroom management, many beginning teachers can feel overwhelmed and become disenchanted with the work they do. Managing learning activities and differentiating for the diverse needs of every student in the classroom is a significant source of anxiety for many beginning teachers. Differentiation is, within itself, a complicated and involved process concerned not only with knowing students, but also with how to identify their needs and construct appropriate learning sequences for them. The consequence of self-doubt, confusion, and fear is that neither teacher nor students may get to experience the benefits of a well-differentiated classroom. This study employs a design-based research approach to explore how a personality-focused lens might be leveraged for the purposes of assisting two beginning teachers in junior-secondary classes to differentiate instruction. Through a series of iterative cycles, I worked with the beginning teachers as a co-participant, researcher, and mentor to support the designing of differentiated learning sequences. The cooperative and dialogic approach prompted a shift in the beginning teachers’ understandings of their self-efficacy and agency concerning differentiation. Data were collected through various sources including a baseline individual semi-structured interview, journaling, the collection of research artefacts, and a series of four dyadic semi-structured interviews. The data were thematically analysed and sorted into overarching themes that enabled or constrained the beginning teachers’ shifting experiences. The findings suggest that providing a space for the beginning teachers to critically reflect on, and extend, their pedagogical practices and understandings of differentiation supported the enactment of new methods for instruction.

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Thesis (Masters)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School Educ & Professional St

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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beginning teachers


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