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Narratives of Inclusive Teaching

Stories of <i>Becoming</i> in the Field


Srikala Naraian and Sarah L. Schlessinger

Teachers are increasingly challenged by dilemmas of practice as they negotiate their commitments to equity for students from historically marginalized communities, including students with disabilities, against the demands of their school settings. This book seeks to understand the ways in which teachers’ engagements with their schooling contexts evoke varied forms of inclusive practice. It narrates the experiences of seven novice teachers who entered the field deeply committed to inclusive practice. It documents their conflicts, joys and struggles within the collectivities in which they were embedded. In doing thus, the book discloses the many unpredictable trajectories of practice that encompass the complex work of teaching for inclusion.

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Many researchers in the field of disability studies in education, including ourselves, are engaged in teacher education programs that require both coursework and fieldwork (student teaching or practica). Such experiences generally call for ongoing relationships with practicing teachers, negotiation with school partners, encounters with state licensure systems, and familiarity with accountability procedures in schools. Preparing teachers for inclusion is embedded within this assemblage of social activity that has, for us, inevitably come to inform the conceptualization of inclusion itself. Our struggle as researchers and teacher educators has been to reconcile this process with our commitment to the equitable education of students with disabilities1 that we brought to this work in the first place. This book is our attempt to explore that struggle.

As scholars situated within a disability studies tradition, we are first and foremost unequivocally committed to emancipatory modes of practice that understand disability not as a problem or a deficit within a person, but as emergent within the interactions of individuals with social, cultural, political and legal institutions in society. Our work as teacher educators is grounded in this fundamental commitment to the recognition of disability as a valued form of human variation that requires a vigilant monitoring of the ideology of ability which circulates within school systems, categorizing some populations as incompetent or deficient. Teachers, we remind our students and ourselves, must recognize how social, physical and attitudinal barriers produce disability, and should respond actively to mitigate their debilitating effects on individuals, in...

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