Four Secondary Teachers’ Perspectives on Enhancing the Inclusion of Exceptional Students
Secondary School , Inclusionary Practices , Inclusion , Exceptional Students , Special Education , Education
Recent reports suggest that the number of students receiving special education services in Ontario has risen from 14% to 23% in a ten-year span (People for Education, 2015). Thus, there is a growing need to study which teaching practices are being used with exceptional learners in regular classrooms and whether they are consistent with professional documents and research advising teachers on how to create the best inclusive learning environment (Kretlow, Cooke, & Wood, 2012; Swanson, 2001). In Ontario, Learning for All (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013a), the professional document designed to advise secondary school teachers on inclusive teaching practices, is notably lacking in research conducted within secondary schools. This could be due to the lack of research on inclusive education being conducted in secondary schools. The current study described in this thesis was designed as a starting point to fill in this gap. Specifically, this multiple perspective case study describes the cases of four diverse secondary school teachers in Ontario and how they facilitated the inclusion of exceptional students in regular classrooms. In talking to secondary teachers about inclusion, I hoped to gain an understanding of how teachers create an inclusionary space using the tools provided to them by the Ministry of Education, as well as those provided by their individual schools and school boards. The findings of the study suggest that the four secondary teachers in this study facilitate inclusion of exceptional students in regular classrooms by considering how the students’ functional needs impact their learning of the curriculum; in fact, three of the four consider functional learning and assessment needs of all students, not just exceptional students, when planning and teaching their classes. This study provides useful information for Ministries of Education, school boards, and schools in tailoring professional development days and professional documents to guide teachers in including students with exceptionalities in secondary schools.