Teacher perceptions of factors associated with diverse classroom compositions
Ferguson, Cailan E.
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Classroom compositions have been dramatically shifting to include a wider range of cultural, linguistic, and developmental diversity. Research surrounding the professional learning sought by teachers to work in diverse classrooms has been international in scope and primarily focused on initial teacher training programs, in-service and professional development, and teacher turnover. Studies from Australia, Eastern Asia, North America and Western Europe outline the comfort and preparedness level of teachers worldwide, consistently identifying a correlation between classroom compositions and challenges teachers experience. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of British Columbia public school teachers, specifically, as they relate to the contemporary dynamic classroom compositions. An explanatory sequential mixed methods approach was implemented here whereby quantitative data, collected using an online survey was used to identify themes for further exploration in a qualitative focus group discussion. Perceptions identified in this study were based on thematic identification through convergent and divergent analysis. This research revealed that teachers, though feeling mostly comfortable to meet the needs of their students, often feel ill-prepared and not supported with their work in diverse classrooms. To determine the preparedness of educators, teachers were asked specifically about their initial teacher training, in-service opportunities, and impactful professional learning. To gain more insight into supports necessary to assist teachers in meeting the needs of their students, participants were queried about their access to resources, consistency of specialists within the district and EA allocation. This paper elaborates on these findings and how they were determined. The significance and limitations of this paper are also established while providing recommendations for further research.