When a special education teacher came to thank me for printing materials in large font sizes for a student with a visual impairment, I wondered, “Why wouldn’t I do this?” I soon learned that some teachers expected special education teachers to handle any non-standard need.
Although that was nearly 20 years ago, the teachers I work with now in the Online M.Ed. program’s Inclusive Learning specialization share similar experiences in witnessing resistance to serving all students. I am proud to see our graduates continue the work in helping teachers view providing for all students to be part of the shared responsibility we take on when entering the profession.
This summer, recent graduates Greer Lally and Tiffanee Saunders attended the Midwest Summer Institute/Disability Studies in Education Annual Conference with me where we presented our work, “Teacher-Led Professional Development: Using DSE and UDL to Advocate for the Rights of Inclusion.” Both teachers, Lally coming from a public school in Arizona and Saunders from a Catholic school in Virginia, shared the challenges and successes of leading school-site colleagues in improving the support given in general education classrooms to students with disabilities and all students.
We all were pleased that we received positive feedback on our session and that we had an opportunity to meet in person and learn from others who presented work. We also had an opportunity to meet with David Connor, author of Rethinking Disability, one of our favorite texts, and with Tracy Thresher, an advocate who stars in the film Wretches and Jabberers, which highlights the experience of individuals using facilitated communication.
This Fall, Tiffanee Saunders takes on a new position as a Resource Specialist for preK-5th grades at St. Louis Catholic School in Alexandria, VA, where she’ll support students in their general education classrooms, lead student assistance plan meetings, and provide professional development to teachers. Greer Lally begins a position as an integrated kindergarten teacher at Cotton Creek School in Wauconda, IL, after relocating back to the Chicago area. Congratulations to both women on their accomplishments!