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HEAD TEACHER'S PERCEPTION REGARDING THE NEEDS OF TEACHERS TO WORK IN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION WITH LOW VISION STUDENTS

Maria Elisabete Rodrigues Freire Gasparetto (1)

Edméa Rita Temporini (2)

Keila Miriam Monteiro Carvalho (3)

Newton Kara–José (4)

  1. B. Education, Doctor in Medical Science, Professor: Rehabilitation Studies and Research Center-CEPRE / Medical School / Campinas State University.
  2. B. Public Health, Doctor in Public Health, Professor: Dept. of Ophthalmology of Medical School / São Paulo University and Campinas State University.
  3. M.D. Professor: Dept of Ophthalmology of  Medical School / Campinas State University.
  4. M.D. Professor: Dept. of Ophthalmology of Medical School / São Paulo University and Campinas State University.

ABSTRACT

This study was developed to check head teachers’ perception regarding the needs of their teachers in order to work with included low vision students at the regular class. The study was a descriptive, transversal type, conducted at 23 public schools in the county of Campinas / São Paulo / Brazil, covering the academic year of 1999. Data collection instrument was a structured set of questions applied to the 23 head teachers used during a personal interview and developed from an exploratory study and previous test. They averaged 44.5 years of age, 5.2 years in school heading and 3.0 years in schools having low vision students. Results showed all head teachers declaring the need of specialized literature available for their teachers. The great majority, 95.7%, pointed out the importance of data and orientations made available to the teachers at the very beginning of the academic year, regarding every low vision student included into the regular class. Also a program of continuous orientation and short courses would be necessary. As a conclusion, in order to guarantee effective inclusive education, it will be necessary to establish educational programs about low vision students for teachers of the regular class.

INTRODUCTION

As stated by TORRES & CORN (1990) the inclusion of a low vision child into the regular school is a utopia if human resources are not adequately trained, if specific materials are not available and if teaching process is not flexible.

            BISHOP (1997) listed conditions for enhancing inclusion: The school receiving low vision child must have flexible and receptive regular class teachers; Low vision child must have acquired skills necessary to compete with his sighted companions; Special equipment and materials; There must be peer support groups from other visually impaired students. The barriers for the inclusion of low vision children into regular school are not the visual deficiency but the lack of adequate materials, personnel and flexibility in the educational system (GASPARETTO, 1997).

           It was seen that a comprehensive visual evaluation of the student is fundamental to define his capabilities thus providing information for the best follow up action of the teacher (GASPARETTO et al, 2001). Next, teachers must receive adequate training both for their intervention and knowledge about the visual impairment of their students. Also regular teachers need the support from special teachers. The school must be prepared to receive the low vision student and provides conditions for the students to show good performance in the classroom (GASPARETTO, 2001).

Therefore, inclusive education needs a redefinition of the teacher at the regular class and also all professionals working for the education of the low vision student, with special emphasis on the head teacher who is the professional taking decisions which will enhance or block the progress of these students in the school. The head teacher has a body of values, feelings and information about inclusion and impairment that are of utmost importance for the establishment of concrete actions which can lead to effective educational inclusion of the low vision student (JANIAL & MANZINI, 1999)

The above considerations motivated a survey conducted among head teachers in the County of Campinas / São Paulo / Brazil, aiming to check their perception regarding the need to prepare teachers for the work in educational inclusion with low vision students.

METHODS

The study was a descriptive and transversal type, developed using an interview-applied questionnaire directed to the head teachers of the fundamental, in the area of  Campinas (~1.000.000 people) São Paulo, Brazil, having low vision students in regular class, during the academic year (February - December) of 1999. In that period these were 23 head teachers under they conditions, at 23 schools.

The following parameters about the head teachers were investigated: age, period at the position and period having low vision students, feeling about the need to prepare the teacher and allowance for the teacher to use part of the time at school for this preparation.

The interview-applied questionnaire was developed upon an exploratory survey conducted at neighboring towns in order to establish the present instrument for data collection, as reported by PIOVESAN & TEMPORINI (1995).

Data for the present work were collected from December 1999 to June 2000, thus after the academic year of 1999 had finished.

Data were processed through the tool Epi Info version 6 (DEAN et al. 1995).

RESULTS

The survey covered 23 head teachers of female sex and results showed ages ranging from 35 to 57 and average of 44,5 years. Standard deviation was 6,3 years and mode was 47 years (Table I). Time experience as head teacher ranged from 1 to 15 years and averaged 5,2 years and average school time working with low vision students was 3,0 years (Table II).

            Table III shows the position of the head teachers about the training of teachers. All head teachers know the importance of making specialized literature on vision impairment available at the school for the teachers. Most head teachers (95,7%) declared what they consider to be needed: information and orientation to begin the work with the low vision student and a continuing program of orientation and short courses. About half of the head teacher considered useless the fortuitous orientation and courses by mail.

            Table IV shows that most head teachers (91,3%) agree on allowing their teachers to undertake training programs was during the work hours but a little of the head teachers (8,7%), said to be contrary to that.

DISCUSSION

According to JANIAL & MANZINI (1999), the head teacher is the soul of the educational policy at the school and it is his (her) duty to bring evrybody working there into a continuous process of discussion of the educational project thus conducting it with high quality.

For the head teachers, who took part in this survey, the educational inclusion is highly desirable but there are many barriers to be put down. They believe that a small number of low vision students succeed to engage into the public regular school but are not receiving qualified assistance mainly because teachers are not prepared.

All head teachers from this survey were female. Average age was 44,5 years (Table I), but not being head teachers since long or even in a school with low vision students. Although the average period of time having low vision student (3,0 years), as shown in Table II, was significantly higher the average period of their teachers working with low vision students (1,7 years) GASPARETTO, 2001.

The educational inclusion demands adequate qualification of teachers and Table III shows the opinion of head teachers regarding this qualification as coming from initial and continuous orientation, short and long term courses and the availability of specialized literature.

One of the issues considered by head teachers was the need to qualify teachers which is conflict with the short time available during the working hours at the school. As the subject involves new concepts and behavior, courses without the presence of an instructor were considered useless. That’s why most head teachers agreed with the idea of allowing some free time for qualification.

CONCLUSION

Inclusive education is highly dependent on the school system (head teacher, teacher, aid personnel, parents) all working in the search of solutions for the challenge of having diversity in the school rooms but also dependent on the will for including any student demanding special attention.

It was perfectly accepted by all head teachers, interviewed by this survey, the existence of many difficulties on the way for the inclusion of the low vision student, but a critical point is the clack of qualification of the teachers at the regular class.

REFERENCES

BISHOP, V.E. – Identifying the components of success in mainstreaming.  J. Visual Impairm. & Blindness,  80:253-60, 1986.

DEAN, A.G.; DEAN, J.A.; COULOMBIER, D.; BRENDEL, K.A.; SMITH, D.C.; BURTON, A.H.; DICKER, R.C.; SULLIVAN, K.; FAGAN, R.F.; ARNER, T.G. – Epi-info: a word processing, database and statistics program for public health, versão 6.04b. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). Atlanta, 1997. 607p.

GASPARETTO, M.E.R.F. – Visão subnormal em escolas públicas: conhecimentos, opinião e conduta de professores e diretores do ensino fundamental. Campinas, 2001.  [ Tese – Doutorado - Universidade Estadual de Campinas]

GASPARETTO, M.E.R.F. – A criança com baixa visão e o desempenho escolar: caracterização do uso do resíduo visual. Campinas, 1997.  [ Tese – Mestrado - Universidade Estadual de Campinas]

GASPARETTO, M.E.R.F.; TEMPORINI, E.R.; CARVALHO K.M.M.; KARA-JOSÉ, N. – O aluno portador de visão subnormal na escola regular: desafio para o professor? Arq. Bras. Oftalmol., 64:45-51, 2001.

JANIAL, M.I. & MANZINI, E.J. – Integração de alunos deficientes sob o ponto de vista do diretor da escola. In: MANZINI, E. J. org. – Integração do aluno com deficiência: perspectiva e prática pedagógica. Unesp-Marília-Publicações, 1999. p.1-26.

PIOVESAN, A. & TEMPORINI, E. R. – Pesquisa exploratória: procedimento metodológico para o estudo de fatores humanos no campo da saúde pública. Rev. Saúde Pública29(4):318-25, 1995.

TORRES, I. & CORN, A. L. – When you have a visually handicapped child in your classroom: suggestions for teachers.  2 ed.  New York. American Foundation for the Blind, 1990.  48p.

 Table I:   Age of head teachers in public regular school where low vision student are engaged. Campinas, SP, 1999.

                                                                                                              n = 23               

Years of age

 

                                  f                          %

 

 35 – 40

 

       

                                 8                         34,8

 

 

 

 41 – 47

 

                                 7                         30,4

 

 

 

 48 – 57

 

                                 8                         34,8

 

                                                x = 44,5 years     sd = 6,3 years     mo = 47 years               

                                             

 

Table II:  Head teachers experience – total heading time and time in school with low vision student. Campinas, SP, 1999.

                                                                                                       n = 23

Head teachers experience (years)

 

 

                           f                         %                   

 

 

 

Period at the position (years)

 

 

 

 

 1   -   4

 

                           10                      43,5

 

 

 

 5   -   8

 

                            10                     43,5

 

 

 

 9   - 15

 

                              3                     13,0

 

 

 

                                          x = 5,2 years      

              

 

 

 

Period with low vision students (years)

 

 

1   -   2

 

                          10                       43,5

 

 

 

3   -   4

 

                            9                       39,1

 

 

 

5   -   7

 

                            4                       17,4

 

 

 

 

                                             x = 3,0 years   

 

 

Table III:  Position of the head teachers about the preparation of teachers for the work with low vision students. Campinas, SP, 1999.                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                          n = 23 

      

Teachers’needs*

 

      

            f                        %

 

 

Availability of specialized literature

 

         23                      100,0

 

Information / orientation to begin the work with the low vision student

 

         22                        95,7

 

Program of continuing

 

         22                        95,7

 

Short courses

 

         22                        95,7

 

Fortuitous

 

         10                        43,5

 

Graduate level courses

 

           8                        34,8

 

Courses by mail

 

           0                             0

 

(*) multiple answers

 

 

Table IV:  Head teachers’ position about allowing free time during working hours to be use for specialized training. Campinas, SP, 1999.  

                                                                                                          n = 23

Allowance of free time

 

                   f                         %

 

 Yes

 

  

                 21                      91,3

 

 

 

 No

 

                   2                        8,7

 

 

 


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