Special educators in inclusive education programmes: Reframing their work as teacher leadership

Jennifer York-Barr, Jennifer Sommerness, Karen Duke, Gail Ghere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Special education teachers are finding themselves in increasingly complex and demanding contexts of practice. Many are considering leaving the field or have already done so. These conditions suggest a decline in the appeal of professional practice as a special education teacher, with potentially deleterious short- and long-term effects on the lives of students with disabilities. Special education teachers identified as highly effective in serving students with low incidence disabilities in inclusive education settings were convened to understand better their realities of practice in inclusive education settings and to identify supports for such practice. Findings support and expand those presented in Bright Futures for Exceptional Learners (2001) a report published by the US Council for Exceptional Children. In addition to corroborating the complexity of practice, the special educators articulated a sophisticated understanding of how their schools and districts function organizationally and politically. This understanding resulted in access to and utilization of a wide array of resources for students. It is posited that the work of special educators in inclusive education settings is appropriately viewed as teacher leadership. Recommendations are offered for engaging local conversations that result in support for special educators in their central role as leaders of inclusive education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-215
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported in part by Grant #832M980176 awarded by the US Department of Education to the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota. The content, however, does not necessarily reflect the views or


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