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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 Five A Dystopian Tale with Jessica Ewing

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Chapter 5

A Dystopian Tale

With Jessica Ewing

“And there’s like a lot of moveable parts that never seem to sync up, that never seem to align. It seems like there’s always conflict or there’s always something. And [it’s] always something major. And there’s a complete lack of unity. So maybe like dystopian. I don’t know.”

Unlike the other teachers who participated in this study, Jessica’s experiences seemed to have evoked ambivalence and unease rather than positive attachments. While none of the teachers whom we describe in this book claimed to have stumbled upon flawless teaching environments, their accounts were nonetheless characterized by an energy that generally signaled a momentum largely unchanged since completion of their preparatory program. They might contemplate other school environments, but their attachment to this profession was as yet, unwavering. Jessica had initially seemed hopeful about her school, but over the months, we witnessed a steady decline in her enthusiasm, and she was less able to contribute readily to the discussions in the group meetings. Jessica’s story, then is not a feel-good, heroic story. Its grounding in precarity rather than certainty (Naraian, 2019), however, can offer us new ways to imagine how to begin preparing for inclusion. Her narrative, we believe, is particularly important in the questions it provokes regarding the assumptions teachers and teacher educators make about how we assess the capacity of inclusive educators. It discloses the “ableminded-ness” (Kafer, 2013) in our conceptions of such educators...

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