Theses Doctoral

Perspectives of in-service Educators Prepared in Inclusive Teacher Education Programs on Enactments of Inclusion

Rabinowitz, Laurie Miriam

Although inclusive practices demonstrate positive academic and social outcomes for all students (Hehir et al., 2016; Newman, 2006) and are necessitated by an increasingly diverse student body in U.S. schools (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2017), teachers who have graduated from inclusive teacher preparation programs frequently find themselves teaching within contexts which make it challenging for them to sustain their inclusive commitments over several years of teaching practice (Rood, 2018; Rood & Ashby, 2020). This study explored how, when, and under what conditions early and mid-career in-service educators who attended inclusive education preservice programs are, and are not, able to sustain their work.

Informed by Disability Studies in Education (DSE) and an ecological approach to conceptualizing teacher agency (Priestley et al., 2017), this study built on research that suggested enacting inclusivity is a stance towards decision making rather than solely a set of skills and practices. This study investigated the perspectives of four in-service New York City inclusive educators to determine their beliefs and commitments to inclusivity, their efforts towards implementing inclusivity, and their prior experience in inclusive teacher education programs through in-depth, semi-structured interviews and document review. Data were analyzed using qualitative analytic open coding.

Findings suggested that having previously developed a sense of self-efficacy in curriculum planning and beliefs about how inclusive curriculum should be constructed through their inclusive preservice education supported participants in achieving agency in curriculum designing. Participants demonstrated how in making inclusive curricular adaptations, they redesigned the pacing, structure, and content of curricula to reflect a commitment to their previously learned inclusive beliefs in accessible instruction for individualized learners and social justice. Furthermore, participants described relying on their relationships with like-minded colleagues to support how they maneuvered structural barriers (e.g., a school’s organizational set-up of teacher observation) and cultural barriers (e.g., the culture of performativity based on high-stakes testing) to enacting inclusivity (Priestley et al., 2017). The ability to cultivate collective efficacy and rely on relationships to support inclusive action reflected the relationship-building practices that participants described developing in their preservice programs. Participants believed that having attended inclusive preservice education programs provided them with foundational skills, knowledge, and decision-making practices that supported their ability to maneuver around constraints on practice to enact inclusive teaching while in the field.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Naraian, Srikala
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2022