Leadership Practices and Knowledge that Support Inclusion: A Case Study

Akom, Karen, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Dexter, Sara, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Inclusion is supported by both legislation and ethical arguments, but the practice of inclusion is not clearly defined. Therefore, the implementation of inclusion is influenced by the beliefs and backgrounds of school leaders. This case study set out to provide a description of leadership practices and knowledge at a school identified as providing successful inclusion for students with disabilities. The findings of this case study are framed using Leithwood et al.’s (2004; 2008) core sets of leadership practices to broadly describe the actions of leaders, and their interactions with followers, at this school that support inclusive programming. Within the broad categories of core sets of leadership practices, I used the conceptual framework of distributed leadership (Spillane, 2006) to describe the specific tools, routines, and structures used by leaders to implement and support inclusion. Further, I used the framework of leadership content knowledge (Stein & Nelson, 2003) to identify the knowledge of both inclusion and leadership that leaders draw on to organize their leadership practices with regards to inclusive programming. Through the use of this framework, I was able to identify the following reoccurring elements of practice that support inclusion at this school: the principal’s insight and drive, an inclusive school culture, organizational support, communication, and the buffering of staff from distractions.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
educational leadership, inclusion, special education, distributed leadership, leadership content knowledge
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