“I’ve counted Jon”: Transformational Experiences of Teachers Educating Students with Disabilities

Pedagogical approaches

Michael F. Giangreco, Research Assistant Professor;
Ruth Dennis, Lecturer;
Chigee Cloninger, Research Associate Professor,
Susan Edelman, Lecturer &
Richard Schattman, Lecturer. Department of Special Education, University of Vermont, Burlington, USA.

Why do some teachers take action to become involved with their students with severe disabilities while others do not? In this classic study, Michael Giancreco and his team attempt to gain better understanding into teachers’ experiences with children with disabilities and the transformative processes that assist in getting the teachers more involved with their students. For the purposes of the study 19 general education teachers, kindergarten through Grade 9, as well as questionnaires completed by 18 teachers, were analyzed using categorical coding procedures to identify themes related to the teachers’ experiences. The results indicated that the majority of the teachers –despite their initial negative reactions- experienced increased ownership and involvement with the student with severe disabilities in their classes over the course of the school year. The teachers identified factors that assisted in the process as well as some that were not so helpful. The results of the study have important implications for teacher in-service and pre-service training especially as it pertains to (a) other teachers' feelings and experiences in similar situations; (b) critical factors influencing success to start the year (e.g., teamwork, expectations of ownership, interaction with the student, learning from the class), and (c) approaches described by experienced teachers as successful (e.g.,activity-based approaches, use of typical materials and activities, group strategies).

The article can be found here.