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Becoming a Great Inclusive Educator


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 16: Inclusive Education: A Messy and Liberating Venture


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Inclusive Education: A Messy and Liberating Venture


Writing this chapter was much more difficult than I had imagined. Telling my story—the story of my work in inclusive education—was challenging because it is all I’ve ever known professionally. How could I tell the story of the only kind of work I’ve been involved in since finishing college? For me, inclusion in schools and community just is. Or at least is something that should be, for all kids. I’ve never had to undo any prior knowledge about disability, special education, or the places and ways that we teach kids with disabilities in order to open my mind to the practices of inclusive education.

I consider inclusive education to be both a civil right and a matter of social justice. And I will readily acknowledge that it isn’t always easy—but then again, transformative work rarely is! It asks us to consider difficult questions about our beliefs and commitments, to release ideas about individually held expertise, and to consider what it means to be human. Creating school communities that are inclusive of all students requires commitments far beyond the 8 to 3 school day.

The rest of this chapter is organized around three themes that have been essential, in my experiences, to the development of inclusive schools. I’ll reflect on some of my most formative experiences from very early on in my...

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