WiRk Teams: Effective support teams
Background and aims
The research project "WiRK Teams: Effective Support Teams" looks at the process of promotion and support of children with learning and behaviour difficulties in integrated (inclusion) classes at regular schools. It examines what characterizes this promotion/support process and whether it can be rated as effective—for certain children with learning and behaviour difficulties—in achieving the educational/qualification and integration tasks of schooling. In this connection the project also surveyed support teams (classroom teachers and school-level special education teachers) on the challenges of everyday teaching and on their need for support.
The "WiRk Teams: Effective Support Teams" project was started in June 2017 based on the pilot study WiRk: The efficacy of integrated schooling, which examined if, and how successfully, the actors in inclusion classes at regular schools today are educating and integrating all school children into the classroom community—and most particularly children with diverse learning and behaviour difficulties.
The "WiRk Teams: Effective Support Teams" project is conducting six group interviews with different support teams from the WiRk pilot study sample. The interviews will be evaluated based on the available data material using a reconstructive method of qualitative social research. The case-related interview findings on the support process could be compared to the results of the WiRK pilot study and analysed in connection with the achievement of the schooling tasks of education/scholastic performance and integration.
Process of promotion and support
To promote the children’s performance, regular teaching materials in German and mathematics were largely used. Cooperation in the support team was perceived differently: Four out of six support teams experienced their team relationships as very positive and supportive. All of the children showed individual progress.
Challenges and aid for the support team
As the greatest challenges, the teams mentioned not enough remedial teaching hours as well as challenging social relationships and behavioural difficulties in the class. To aid them, the teams desire very close cooperation and work in the team teaching between classroom teachers and special education teachers.
Integration and educational/qualification goals
All of the children remained in their integrated (inclusion) classes at regular schools and felt basically comfortable at school. The performance of the children in German and mathematics remained largely constant. One child had above-average scholastic performance, but the performance of the others was in the below-average or narrowly sufficient range. One child with diagnosed dyslexia showed clear improvement in mathematics. Difficult behaviours among the children did not increase.
For children with learning difficulties, compensation for disadvantages and personal characteristics (hard work, persistence, and motivation) were named as success factors. For both children with primary behavioural difficulties and children with learning difficulties, close cooperation with other specialists as well as a good relationship and regular communication between school-child-parents was regarded as essential.