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date: 02 December 2021

Collaborative Teacher Inquiry for Inclusive Educationlocked

Collaborative Teacher Inquiry for Inclusive Educationlocked

  • Sarah SchlessingerSarah SchlessingerLong Island University
  •  and Celia OylerCelia OylerColumbia University Teachers College

Summary

Taking an inquiry approach for professional learning in support of inclusive education is both pragmatic and powerful, although it has certainly not been the norm throughout much of teacher education in North America. Much research in inclusive education has focused on teacher beliefs and practices, school structures, and service delivery models, and such foci often position teachers as technicians, implementing outside experts’ ideas about “best practices,” thus marginalizing educators as mere consumers of research and methods, rather than developers, designers, and architects of inclusive practices.

To foster full participation and membership of all learners in their classrooms, teachers often engage in trial and error, puzzle solving, and creativity, to build productive and participatory communities of learning. Although consciousness, criticality, and questioning are the foundation of an inclusive stance, awareness alone does not necessarily generate practices of critical inclusivity. The work of moving recursively from framings (ideological and affective) to specific, embodied practices requires continuous action and reflection, which is well supported by practitioner inquiry.

The practice of inquiry requires that teachers engage in persistent, reflective work; take risks; and use failures as points of departure for new learning and teaching approaches. The content of the inquiry, when focused on capacity and inclusivity, has the potential to work against the dominant discourses that marginalize and exclude particular students and populations, whereas the process of inquiry can position teachers as creative, intellectual problem-solvers, thus working against the dominant discourse of teachers as technicians.

Inquiry for inclusivity is most often taken up as a collaborative practice, supporting educators to make their problem-solving public, gaining both friendly critique and affirmation. The collaborative inquiry group can also serve as a space for ideological and affective clarification, as striving to design teaching and learning for inclusion involves challenging many of the norms of schooling, including individualism; meritocracy; competition; and sorting, leveling, and ranking students.

Subjects

  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Professional Learning and Development
  • Education, Change, and Development

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