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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 21: “Now, I’m part of the family … well, almost!”: Family Matters for Schooling Success

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CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

“Now, I’m part of the family … well, almost!”: Family Matters for Schooling Success

JOHN COLIN & SRIKALA NARAIAN



Ours is a shared narrative of a high school special education teacher (John Colin) and a university-based researcher (“Kala” Naraian) inquiring into inclusive practices. We met during a professional development opportunity to strengthen family-school connections offered through a partnership between a university and a large urban school system of more than 1,500 schools in the Northeastern part of the United States. The Board of Education in the city had recently announced a special education reform initiative whereby no school could reject a student with disabilities if she or he was otherwise eligible to be educated within that building. (Typically thus far, if a school did not feel able to support a student with disabilities, he or she could be simply referred to an alternate site.) All schools participating in the pilot phase of this initiative were eligible to send educators to various professional development (PD) strands that collectively offered an opportunity to develop the skills that could promote inclusive schooling. John was one of several participants in the PD experience, designed and led by Kala, on strengthening family-school connections.

John

I work in a high-need urban high school that serves students considered at risk. The label high need draws on the fact that more than 60% of our students’ families ← 293 | 294 → fall...

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