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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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Chapter Two Negotiating the Cruel Optimisms of Inclusivity with Molly Goodell


Chapter 2

Negotiating the Cruel Optimisms of Inclusivity

With Molly Goodell

“If inclusivity is possible, I definitely don’t know how to do it.”

When Molly entered her graduate program, she was fresh from her undergraduate degree. Her head filled with poststructural theory, she was ready to prove that Foucauldian analysis was not futile, as some educational scholars have suggested, but rather a potential catalyst for dismantling oppressive structures of schooling. As a young, white, cisgender, woman, Molly had come to her commitment to inclusive education as an act of social justice through her philosophical understanding of difference. When introduced to disability studies in education, she quickly attached to this framework; it seemed to speak to the philosophical and social commitments that she held and to her stance on equity and social justice. She was ready to be an inclusive educator, at least ideologically.

The story of her first year of teaching demonstrates the struggles of “becoming” an inclusive educator within a context that did not support the work of inclusivity. It is also a story that sheds light on the ways in which Molly’s “becoming” an inclusive educator was marked by her own internal tensions and attachments to success and goodness as a White, able-bodied teacher negotiating a complex and inequitable system of education. She was conscious that at her “very diverse” school, she didn’t “contribute to the diversity.” Laughing quietly, she noted, “Most people look like me. Lots of...

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