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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 19: Respecting and Reaching All Learners in English Language Arts Classes: A Glimpse into a New York City High School

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CHAPTER NINETEEN

Respecting and Reaching All Learners in English Language Arts Classes: A Glimpse into a New York City High School

FRAN BITTMAN, SARAH BICKENS, & DAVID J. CONNOR



Introduction: Contextualizing Inclusion in New York City

I, David, began my career in the late 1980s in New York City as a high school teacher of adolescent students segregated because of labels such as learning disabilities, behavior disorders, and attention deficit disorders. My school was one of the first to pioneer collaborative team teaching to facilitate the integration of students with IEPs. During the mid-1990s I changed positions to be a professional staff developer based in the Office of the Superintendent of Manhattan High Schools. Much of my work was deliberately focused on inclusive education, and I had the task of engaging faculty from forty schools to transition youth labeled disabled into general education classes. Visiting these schools, I saw firsthand how the movement toward inclusion was being interpreted and responded to educators within each institution. In a word, it was extreme. On one hand, there were schools that genuinely respected all youth as individuals and created intricate, effective support systems that allowed students with disabilities to have the same access to high school content classes that they were not receiving in segregated environments. On the other hand, some schools used inclusion classes as a dumping ground for large numbers of students with IEPs, “at-risk” kids, and chronic...

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