Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 25, Issue 4, Pages 535-542 (May 2009).
Effective teaching skills consist of high levels of student engagement based on good classroom and time management skills. These teaching skills are also composed of the ability to scaffold learning that is adapted to students' current levels of understanding and cognitively engaging students in higher-order thinking. Furthermore, these skills also consist of encouraging and supporting success. The research reported here suggests that in elementary classrooms, effective teaching skills are effective for all students, both with and without special education needs.
Drawing on a research program extending over nearly two decades, the authors argue that effective inclusionary practices and therefore overall effective teaching, depend in part on the beliefs of teachers about the nature of disability and about their roles and responsibilities in working with students with special education needs. Elementary classroom teachers who believe students with special needs are their responsibility tend to be more effective overall with all of their students.
The authors provide evidence to suggest that teachers' beliefs about disability and about their responsibilities for their students with disabilities and special educational needs may be part of a broader set of attitudes and beliefs about the nature of ability and about the nature of knowledge, knowing and how learning proceeds; that is, epistemological beliefs.
The implications for these findings are considerable for teacher training and development. Little is known about how skills for effective inclusion are developed, or about how changes in teachers' beliefs about disability, ability and their epistemological beliefs may be reflected in changes in their practices. The literature on these topics is explored and implications drawn for teacher preparation for inclusive classrooms.