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How Teaching Shapes Our Thinking About Disabilities

Stories from the Field


Edited By David J. Connor and Beth A. Ferri

This book purposefully connects practice to research, and vice versa, through the use of deeply personal stories in the form of autoethnographic memoirs. In this collection, twenty contributors share selected tales of teaching students with dis/abilities in K-12 settings across the USA, including tentative triumphs, frustrating failures, and a deep desire to understand the dynamics of teaching and learning. The authors also share an early awareness of significant dissonance between academic knowledge taught to them in teacher education programs and their own experiential knowledge in schools. Coming to question established practices within the field of special education in relation to the children they taught, each author grew increasingly critical of deficit-models of disability that emphasized commonplace practices of physical and social exclusion, dysfunction and disorders, repetitive remediation and punitive punishments. The authors describe how their interactions with children and youth, parents, and administrators, in the context of their classrooms and schools, influenced a shift away from the limiting discourse of special education and toward become critical special educators and/or engage with disability studies as a way to reclaim, reframe, and reimagine disability as a natural part of human diversity. Furthermore, the authors document how these early experiences in the everydayness of schooling helped ground them as teachers and later, teacher educators, who galvanized their research trajectories around studying issues of access and equality throughout educational structures and systems, while developing new theoretical models within Disability Studies in Education, aimed to impact practices and policies.
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List of Contributors


Dr. Christine Ashby is Associate Professor of Inclusive Education and Disability Studies at Syracuse University, where she coordinates the undergraduate Inclusive Elementary and Special Education program and graduate programs in Inclusive Special Education. Ashby also directs the Center on Disability and Inclusion. Her scholarship addresses inclusive education, emphasizing supports for students with labels of autism and developmental disabilities, disability studies, and inclusive teacher preparation and has been published in outlets including Equity and Excellence in Education, International Journal of Inclusive Education, Teacher Education and Special Education, and Educational Studies. Her book, Enacting Change from Within: Disability Studies Meets Teaching and Teacher Education (Peter Lang, with Cosier), explores how disability studies can inform the practical work of teachers.

Dr. Susan Baglieri began her career as a high school special education teacher in New Jersey in 1999 is now a Professor of Special Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Montclair State University. She co-coordinates the Increasing Access to College project, which focuses on inclusive postsecondary education. She is co-author of the 2017 book, Disability Studies and the Inclusive Classroom (Routledge), and co-author of the 2019 book, Undoing Ableism: Teaching About Disability in K-12 Classrooms (Routledge). Current research projects focus on universally designed pedagogy and disability studies curriculum.

Dr. Mildred Boveda is an Assistant Professor of Special Education and Cultural and Linguistic Diversity at Arizona State University. Drawing from ←319 | 320→intersectionality as conceptualized by Black feminist theorists, she interrogates how differences are framed across equity-based...

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