The End of a Journey: Reflections on My Master’s Degree and Hopes for Change

by | May 28, 2024

As we find ourselves in the midst of half-term, I wanted to take a moment to share some personal reflections on a significant milestone I’ve just reached—completing my Master’s degree. It’s been a journey filled with challenges, insights, and ultimately, a deeper understanding of our profession and the dynamics that shape it.

A Love-Hate Relationship with Statistical Analysis

If there’s one aspect of my studies that I found particularly challenging, it was statistical analysis, and that’s coming from someone who usually likes analysing data. To be honest, there were moments when I questioned my sanity for diving into a world of p-values, correlation coefficients, and regression models. However, as much as I dreaded it, I also learned to appreciate the clarity and precision that statistical analysis can bring to our understanding of complex issues.  It’s a shame it can’t add a few extra hours into each day so I can play about some more…

Discovering Self-Determination Theory (SDT)

One of the most enlightening parts of my research was delving into Self-Determination Theory (SDT). SDT is a framework for understanding human motivation and wellbeing, emphasising three core psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This theory became the backbone of my research, guiding my exploration into how inclusive education practices impact teacher workload and wellbeing.

Key Findings from My Research

Through my research, I discovered several important insights:

Increased Workload: Inclusive education practices significantly increase teacher workload, leading to higher stress levels and reduced job satisfaction.

Reduced Autonomy and Competence: The additional demands of inclusive education often leave teachers feeling less in control of their classrooms and less capable of meeting the diverse needs of their students.  How many times have you heard me say in webinars that I fear we are ‘deskilling’ our teaching workforce?  I wonder if this is the indicator that I might be on to something?

Need for Support: There is a need for increased resources, adequate instructional materials, and access to support staff to help teachers manage the challenges of inclusive education.  (But not to take the children away from the teachers as this would exacerbate the issue above.)

Implications for SENCOs

As SENCOs, our role is crucial in advocating for the changes needed to support our teachers. We must work towards policies and practices that enhance teacher autonomy, provide necessary resources, and foster a supportive school culture. By doing so, we can help create an environment where both teachers and students can thrive.

Looking Ahead: Hopes for Change

As we approach the upcoming governmental elections, there is a palpable sense of anticipation and hope for change. Education policy is always a hot topic, and there is potential for significant shifts that could impact our work. My hope is that the new government will recognise the importance of supporting teachers and invest in the resources needed to make inclusive education both effective and sustainable.  I suppose I could send them a copy of my research, but I suspect it’ll fall on deaf ears.

Conclusion

Completing my Master’s degree has been a journey of growth and discovery. Despite the challenges, I am grateful for the insights I’ve gained and the opportunity to contribute to our understanding of teacher wellbeing in inclusive settings. As we look forward to the elections, let’s remain hopeful for positive changes that will benefit our schools, teachers, and students.

I encourage you all to take a moment to reflect on your own experiences and share your thoughts on how we can continue to support each other and advocate for the changes needed in our education system. Together, we can make a difference.

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