Stories from the Field
Edited By David J. Connor and Beth A. Ferri
20. My Disabled Teacher Presence
20.My Disabled Teacher Presence
I often tell my students, preservice teachers, that I have been thinking about disability since I was a small child—and, that my conception of it is ever-evolving as I interact with people and environments. These interactions have shaped me and have led me to find a home within Disability Studies in Education (DSE). As I finally write the story, I revisit the artifacts I’ve held on to over the years: letters from students, teacher evaluation forms, court documents, photos, and the journal of poems I wrote during my first years of teaching. It is clear that I’ve needed to tell the story. I learned to walk at age four and never took the training wheels off my bicycle. Leaning on walls and family and friends for balance, I knew my body was unique. It was a body with limits that I would push. But a body with limits is not such a strange thing, is it?
However, having a physical impairment, I had a strange position within my school community. In 1980, just five years after IDEA legislation, the folks at Colwich Grade School in Kansas agreed that the “least restrictive environment” for me was the general education classroom. There, I learned to see myself as different, if not better, than those who learned in the special classroom down the hall. I had already noticed the way people said “special ed” and was sure it was not a good thing. Sensing I was...
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