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Becoming a Great Inclusive Educator

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Edited By Scot Danforth

Inclusive education continues to grow in popularity and acceptance in the United States. However, most teachers – general and special educators – are poorly prepared to be successful in inclusive classrooms and schools. Undoubtedly, the challenge to professionals involves the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. But inclusion requires far more. It calls upon educators to trouble everything they think they know about disability, to question their deepest ethical commitments, to take up the work of the Disability Rights Movement in the public schools, and to leap headlong into the deepest waters of the rich craft tradition of inclusive teaching. This book offers educators the guidance and resources to become great inclusive educators by engaging in a powerful process of personal and professional transformation.
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Chapter 6: Friendships in the Classroom

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CHAPTER SIX

Friendships in the Classroom



Guiding Question

• How can you promote the development of friendships in the classroom among students with and without disabilities?

Teachers and parents are aware that many nondisabled students have not been offered sufficient opportunities to develop friendships with disabled peers. Segregated programs separate nondisabled students from disabled classmates. Disabled young people miss out on opportunities for fulfillment and learning available in the mainstream community of friends. Many students with disabilities experience loneliness and a lack of social connectedness in public schools. In many cases, disabled students not only feel socially isolated, they also are the frequent target of acts of ridicule and teasing that deliver rejection with harshness and brutality.

But the harm cuts both ways. Nondisabled students often forego the joy and life-expanding experience of befriending a student with a disability. The possibility of connecting with and personally knowing a person with a disability has often been stolen away from the nondisabled child or adolescent who, due to the bodily absence of disabled classmates, doesn’t even know what she is missing. Given a childhood bereft of significant relationships with disabled pals, it is not surprising ← 111 | 112 → when a nondisabled child grows into an adult who unthinkingly discriminates against persons with disabilities.

Educational researchers have applied a standard yet foolish logic to the problem of the lack of interpersonal relationships between disabled and nondisabled students. Stated...

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