Action Research for Inclusive Education: Changing Places, Changing Practice, Changing Minds

By Felicity Armstrong; Michele Moore | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Ordinary teachers, ordinary struggles

Including children with social and communication difficulties in everyday classroom life

Kathy Charles

This chapter focuses on the possibilities which the use of research action in the classroom can offer mainstream teachers struggling to maximise the inclusion of children experiencing difficulty in the everyday milieu of school life. The research focused on an individual child, Joe, a Year 4 pupil who was experiencing difficulty connecting with many aspects of both learning and social life. I was immersed in debates surrounding inclusive education at the time when Joe first came to my attention because I was involved in a continuing professional development course at a local university and this, together with initial engagement with the Index for Inclusion (Booth et al., 2002) in the workplace, focused my thinking on the identification of barriers to participation for particular pupils at risk of exclusion in the learning environment. Joe was experiencing difficulties and I was aware that he would feel uncomfortable if expected to articulate his views and feelings about what was happening to him. I realised a radical approach to accessing his perspectives would be required and began to think about developing possible strategies for accessing his views. My aim was to use research action to find out more about Joe's perspective and subsequently help bring about increasingly inclusive practice in the classroom.


Researching Joe

Most teaching and support staff who knew Joe were able to offer their personal views on his difficulties and behaviour patterns. I chose, however, to harness the expertise of other children in the class to help elicit Joe's own views. I decided to supplement insights provided by other children with observation of Joe's participation in the learning environment and to build into the study a focus on planned interventions. As I was a busy classroom teacher with only limited time available to conduct what would have to be a small-scale study, I opted to focus specifically on researching Joe's involvement in only one aspect of the curriculum, the Literacy Hour. The outcomes

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