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From Disability to Possibility

The Power of Inclusive Classrooms

By Patrick Schwarz
Foreword by Kylene Beers

From Disability to Possibility illustrates, through stories of struggle and success, how creative, conscientious teachers can work with everyone involved in a student’s learning to make special education work.

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    From Disability to Possibility will change the way you look at your students with disabilities. And when you make that shift, the way those students look to you will change. You will see the possibilities, and in that vision, you will see the power of the inclusive classroom. -Kylene Beers

Three decades after landmark special education legislation promised a better learning experience for students, special education is still just that-a promise. In America we have earned a failing grade in educating diverse learners, as evidenced by their overwhelming underemployment or joblessness after graduation. We can do better by adopting a new model–one that honors varied teaching and learning styles, transforming disability into possibility. Only then can we finally fulfill the promise of special education.

From Disability to Possibility leads the way presenting the specific kinds of teaching, classroom practices, and support approaches that will make this new model of possibility a reality. Drawing on the stories of learners, both with and without disabilities, as well as families and teachers, Patrick Schwarz shows you not only why many current special education frameworks don’t work, but also how they damage children, often for life. Then he demonstrates how possibility studies offers a meaningful, practical, and doable alternative to traditional special education practices both during the school years and after.

Ideal for general educators, special educators, administrators, educational leaders, related service professionals, paraeducators and self-advocates, From Disability to Possibility illustrates, through stories of struggle and success, how creative, conscientious teachers can work with everyone involved in a student’s learning to make special education work. In addition Patrick Schwarz will show you that special education is a service, not a sentence, and that labels hurt. His ideas and passion will inspire you to look at diverse learners, their instruction, and their support in the classroom, the curriculum, and the social world of school from a new perspective: the possibility of disability.

(click any section below to continue reading)


Chapter 1: Diversity is Good
Sam: Finding the Good in Everyone
Andrew: Going Places by Being Diverse
Chapter 2: Special Education is a Service, Not a Sentence
Susan: Making Difference Ordinary
Gavin: Creating a Support Plan Around a Student Without Prerequisites
Fairness is Not Sameness
Chapter 3: No Double Standards
Marco: Don’t Hold a Disability Against a Person
Zach: Learning the Rules
Dining in Siberia
Eric: Advocate for Students
Chapter 4: A General Education Shouldn’t Need to Be Earned
Anthony: The Least Restrictive Environment and System Reform
Jenny: A Free Appropriate Public Education Is Not Always Free or Appropriate
Katie: Keeping the Faith
Chapter 5: Inclusion May Not Be Easier, But It’s Better
Mark: A Defining Moment for Inclusion
Components of Inclusion
Jack: Inclusion Is Better for Everyone
Chapter 6: The Dignity of Risk Applies to All People
Ben: Portraying the Dignity of Risk
The Dignity of Risk and Learned Helplessness
Julie: Protection Instead of Isolation
Lindsay: Promoting Independence and Quality of Life
Mick: We all Need Confidence and Competence
Chapter 7: Parents: The Gold Standard
Elizabeth and Trevor: Believe You Will Be Successful
Brenda and Brian: Never Give Up
Tonya and David: Families Are Our Most Valuable Resource
Chapter 8: Get Rid of Labels
Nick: Beating A Self–Fulfilling Prophecy
Franklin: Self–Advocacy Stamps Out Labels
Would the Artist Formerly Known as Special Education Please Stand Up?
Chapter 9: Make Education Real!
Jamie: Zero In on What a Student Does Best
Dylan: Don’t Waste a Student’s Time
Justin: An Educational Wake–Up Call
Ella: Sometimes We Need Tough Love
Chapter 10: Disability Is Normal
Works Cited