A Case Study of One Teacher's Experience Using a Sociocultural View of Disability in the English Classroom

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Virginia Tech


Teachers' attitudes are shaped by the language, culture, and power constructs surrounding the disability in our society. This qualitative case study investigated how a sociocultural lens supported an English teacher's efforts to plan and implement lessons that use literature to examine disability critically. The theories of Bakhtin (1981), Rosenblatt (2005), as well as literature that highlights the use of disability studies, social justice, and dialogic pedagogy guided the methods of the study. The sample included the teacher and one ninth grade English Language Arts class of approximately 25 students in a rural high school. Methods involved three semi-structured workshops which served to guide the teacher in an examination of the social discourses surrounding disability, encouragement of aesthetic responses to reading, and the facilitation of a dialogic pedagogy. Participant interviews, lesson plans, observation field notes, and reflective journals were transcribed and triangulated with researcher field notes. Attention was paid to the participant's learning as a social act which leads to a teacher's "ideological becoming" and development of the self as a "process of selectively assimilating the words of others" (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 341). Therefore, the lenses of Transactional Analysis (Stewart, 2011) and content analysis (Schreier, 2014) was used to examine the context and process of planning and implementation for an ELA teacher in order to uncover the meaning-making processes that the teacher undergoes when using literature to examine disability critically. Findings give insight into the development of a teacher as he learns how to apply a sociocultural lens to literary study, as well as how he contextualized and situated his understanding of disability as connected to other forms of difference. While this study is not generalizable due to its qualitative nature, it can be transferable by providing insight into how a teacher guides students through texts that portray disability.



disability, English Language Arts, adolescent literacy, literacy