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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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Part One: Foundations of Successful Inclusion

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PART ONE

Foundations of Successful Inclusion



In part 1, we explore the first three challenges, asking troubling yet hopeful, questions about our own knowledge of disability, the historical positioning of inclusive education, and our deepest ethical beliefs and values.

1. Beginning with Deep Humility: The vast majority of educators, whether they realize it or not, are encapsulated in a set of ideological beliefs about disability and disabled persons that limits their effectiveness as inclusive teachers. We must begin with a raw, honest examination of prejudice and bias.

2. Understanding the Purpose of Inclusion: Inclusion is a fairly limited proposition if we view it as merely the next incarnation of traditional special education research and practice. Inclusion has a greater and clearer ethical purpose if we understand it as one aspect of the ongoing disability rights movement.

3. Cultivating the Ethical Commitments of Inclusion: Unfortunately, “diversity” has become a cheap buzzword that fills every educational book and policy document. Sometimes we educators all chant “Diversity!” together without seriously challenging our ethical commitments. The best inclusive teachers undergo a serious and continuous exploration of their ethical commitments about humanity and community.

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These three challenges run deeper—more personal—than the usual array of professional learning and knowledge. These are as much about who you are as a person as they are about what you do as an educator.

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