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How Teaching Shapes Our Thinking About Disabilities

Stories from the Field


Edited By David J. Connor and Beth A. Ferri

This book purposefully connects practice to research, and vice versa, through the use of deeply personal stories in the form of autoethnographic memoirs. In this collection, twenty contributors share selected tales of teaching students with dis/abilities in K-12 settings across the USA, including tentative triumphs, frustrating failures, and a deep desire to understand the dynamics of teaching and learning. The authors also share an early awareness of significant dissonance between academic knowledge taught to them in teacher education programs and their own experiential knowledge in schools. Coming to question established practices within the field of special education in relation to the children they taught, each author grew increasingly critical of deficit-models of disability that emphasized commonplace practices of physical and social exclusion, dysfunction and disorders, repetitive remediation and punitive punishments. The authors describe how their interactions with children and youth, parents, and administrators, in the context of their classrooms and schools, influenced a shift away from the limiting discourse of special education and toward become critical special educators and/or engage with disability studies as a way to reclaim, reframe, and reimagine disability as a natural part of human diversity. Furthermore, the authors document how these early experiences in the everydayness of schooling helped ground them as teachers and later, teacher educators, who galvanized their research trajectories around studying issues of access and equality throughout educational structures and systems, while developing new theoretical models within Disability Studies in Education, aimed to impact practices and policies.

David J. Connor/Beth A. Ferri: Introduction: Learning from Teachers’ Lives – Jan W. Valle: How I Got Here from There: The Road to Disability Studies in Education – Deborah J. Gallagher: To My Students, with Gratitude: A Retrospective Journey of Teaching [Special Education] – Beth A. Ferri: Snapshots of School – Scot Danforth: From Harmful to Helpful – Classroom Spaces and School Structures – Kathleen M. Collins: “Why Is Lisa’s classroom in the basement?” Reflections on Noticing and Disrupting Exclusion – Federico R. Waitoller: Fictionalized Memories: The Making of a Research Identity in Four Seasons – Erin McCloskey: Paintings on Clear Plastic that Hang from the Ceiling – Brent Elder: The Promises We Keep – Pedagogy and Practices – Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides: Humanizing “Special” Educational Practices – Christine Ashby: “Off to Another Glorious Day of Educational Opportunity”: But for Whom? – Susan Baglieri: How I Learned to Be a Teacher in Room 137 – Julia White: Giving Points, Pathologizing Race, and Reading Harry Potter – Families – Mildred Boveda: Surprising Home Visits – Maria Cioè- Peña: Teaching as Oppression; Teaching as Liberation – Srikala Naraian: Searching for Competence: (T)reading the Spaces between Ways of Knowing – Linda Ware: No Bat Required – Both Sides of the Desk – April Coughlin: Education Is Power: But Only if You Can Get into the Building  – David I. Hernández- Saca: Recovering the Spirit – Saili S. Kulkarni: Journey as a Special Education Teacher of Color with Dis/abilities – Suzanne Stolz: My Disabled Teacher Presence – Beth A. Ferri/David J. Connor: Conclusion: Bridging Theory and Practice through Story – Index.