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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 Four Stories of a Feminist Killjoy Inclusive Educator with Harley Jones


Chapter 4

Stories of a Feminist Killjoy Inclusive Educator

With Harley Jones

“I’m always so aware of when people have more experience than I do. And I think I tend to defer to that.”

In many ways, Harley’s experience as a first-year teacher can be characterized by her experience of, and attachment to, being “expert.” Harley came to her graduate education having worked in charter schools and as a paraprofessional. In her cohort of MA students, Harley was often positioned by her peers as the “expert” on “the way it is” in schools, a positioning she took up readily. In our group conversations about theoretical critiques of the system and idealistic possibilities, Harley could answer the practical questions that her classmates had about schooling. And these answers were derived from and delivered with a confidence in her own knowledge and understanding of a system and profession in which she had more experience than any of her peers. Yet, as Harley moved from former paraprofessional, to graduate student, and into teacher, this confidence in her “expertise” seemed to waiver. Increasingly, she began to see herself as the less experienced, less knowledgeable, and less expert pedagogue in the classroom and to question her own conceptualization of professionalism and pedagogical practice, despite her specifically necessary role as the special/inclusive educator in the room.

In this chapter, working from an affective lens, we offer an investigation into the ways that Harley took up (or...

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