A Qualitative Phenomenological Study of Educator Perspectives on Full Inclusive Teaching Environments

Yates-Bledsoe, Cheryl
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The problem was general education classroom educators in a rural northeast Ohio school district did not identify as prepared to provide effective instruction to learners of wide-ranging academic and physical abilities in inclusive classroom. Study significance was evident in organizational shifts benefiting inclusive model educators and students. Stakeholders may benefit from research findings, with positive impact on inclusive models. Literature gaps existed regarding teacher training and need identification supporting inclusive students. Transformational leadership and social constructivist theories provided the theoretical framework for the study. Key research questions prompted seeking lived experience of inclusive educators, documentation of the experience, instructional strategies, and administrative elements supporting teachers. The purpose of the study was to understand how general education teachers perceived preparation to provide effective instruction in inclusive classrooms. In this hermeneutic phenomenological study, data were collected using semistructured interviews from 15 K-12 general education teachers in inclusive classrooms at the site, excluding intervention specialists. Data collection included professional development transcript analysis, demographic inquiry, and semistructured interviews utilizing a researcher-created instrument, with thematic analysis model examination of data. Transcriptions were member-checked by participants. Multiple data encounters established familiarity, initiating coding for theme identification and labeling. Latent expression and patterns were evaluated to saturation, and codes collapsed for interpretation related to research questions. Key results yielded insufficient training and ineffective application of least restrictive environment (LRE). Co-teaching models were identified as ineffective resulting in failed authentic differentiation and tiered instruction. Recommendations included time for professional development and increasing opportunities for co-planning and cooperative teaching. Keywords: IDEA, ESSA, inclusive teaching, inclusive classrooms, inclusive efficacy, student outcome inclusion, characteristics of learners with disabilities, teacher preparedness for inclusion, social learning theory, social constructivism, transformational leadership