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Inclusive Practices Used by Principals and Their Staffs to Facilitate the Integration of Students With Disabilities Into General Education Classrooms
Twohig, Barbara J.
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Inclusive Practices Used By Principals and Their Staffs to Facilitate the Integration of Students With Disabilities into General Education Classrooms by Barbara J. Twohig Committee Chairman: Stephen R. Parson Educational Leadership and Policy Studies The purpose of this study was to examine how and why elementary school principals collaborate with their teaching staff to facilitate a commitment to educating students with disabilities in the general education classroom. The researcher used a qualitative multiple case study of three elementary schools to gather the data to answer the research questions posed for the study. The primary methodology for collecting data was from coding semi-structured audiotaped interviews with principals and selected general and special education teachers who were collaborating for the purpose of integrating students with disabilities into general education classrooms for part of their academic instruction. Informal interviews or purposeful conversations were also conducted with other selected general and special education teachers and paraprofessionals at the elementary school sites. Coding procedures followed those used in grounded theory. The study demonstrated that principals play a major role in how students with disabilities are successfully integrated into general education classrooms. Six themes emerged that are consistent with the related literature on the generally effective practices of school administrators. First, principals must work with their staff to cultivate a school climate that nurtures all students in an environment where they all belong, where high expectations are set for all students, and where teachers can teach all children. Second, principals must establish an open system of communication that allows all teachers and parents to share their feelings about the inclusion process at their school and to make recommendations for change if needed. Third, school administrators must work with their faculty to develop mutual goals and to resolve problems. Fourth, principals must assume responsibility for ensuring the necessary support for school policies, including integrating students with disabilities into the general education classrooms. Responsibility was defined as providing instructional, staffing, and emotional support. Fifth, principals must give high priority to providing coordinated planning time for teachers who are working together to facilitate effective communication, team problem solving, and monitoring of student progress. Sixth, principals must support ongoing staff development opportunities that provide information and strategies for working in a school environment that is accepting of all members of the school community.
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