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Narratives of Inclusive Teaching

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

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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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Chapter One A Male Teacher of Color: Filling the Void with Taiyo Ebato

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Chapter 1

A Male Teacher of Color: Filling the Void

With Taiyo Ebato

“I really need justice, social justice in my mind, in my mindset, in order to go to work every day … as the [Special Education] teacher, as the one writing the IEPs1, as the one differentiating curriculum. That’s constantly what I’m trying to do -- ask the students and families, and [for] the parent’s voice and the student’s voice.”

As a soft-spoken member of his cohort, Taiyo could generally be observed listening carefully to his colleagues, his expressive face moving alongside the remarks of his peers. When he spoke, however, it was clear that his restrained manner belied the intensity of his feelings towards inclusive teaching; his ongoing assessment of his own role and his responsibilities to his students were always readily apparent to us. Due to school-related matters, Taiyo was unable to attend two of the six group meetings, but he participated freely in two hour–long interviews during the course of the year. In the following pages, we sift and rummage through those carefully spoken words to surface some tentative narrative threads about Taiyo that can suggest his orientation to inclusive practice. We want to be cautious in our assertions; like the other teachers in this study, our stories about Taiyo are compiled without observing his practice. Even as his words hint at the complexities and struggles that preoccupied him, we do not want to suggest that our...

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