If you’re making sure that the students with special needs are getting what they need, then the other students are getting what they need, as well.
These words sum up my beliefs about teaching and my research interests. They are the words of an administrator in a diverse, fully inclusive, and high achieving school district; one that has an absence of special education programs and an anecdotal record of excellent practice in inclusive education. So, how do they make inclusion ‘work’ and have such high levels of student achievement? What beliefs do staff, students, and parents hold about teaching and learning and their roles and responsibilities? What are their teaching practices? What helps teachers meet the diverse needs of students?
I am an Assistant Professor in Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, Faculty of Education, at the University of Victoria. I teach students – those who are learning to become teachers and those who are learning to become more effective teachers and/or researchers. I also research educational issues. I am an investigator on two federally-funded research programs examining factors that contribute to successful inclusive education for students with disabilities and their peers.
I’m an advocate for diversity in classrooms, promoting inclusive education policies and practices. The inclusion of students with disabilities into regular classrooms is the predominant policy in Canadian schools. Yet, there remains considerable resistance to inclusion, particularly in secondary schools. We know that positive attitudes towards inclusion are the most important factor governing the success of students in inclusive classrooms and schools. I have questions about the role of teacher efficacy and beliefs and how they inform what teachers do in their classrooms, and consequently student learning outcomes, and effective support for teachers.
Prior to UVic, I taught at OISE, University of Toronto, the University of Alberta, and was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with the Canada Research Chair in Special Education at the University of Alberta. I completed my masters in computer applications and doctoral studies in adaptive instruction from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/ University of Toronto (OISE/UT). I worked for many years as special education consultant in augmentative and alternative communication at the Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre in Toronto, providing support to families and schools concerning children who have complex and multiple needs.
I was an early adopter of online learning technologies and have been using them in my teaching for over 10 years.
I am passionate about understanding and meeting the needs of children who challenge us; multi-disciplinary team processes; the role of assistive technologies; and foremost, inclusive education.
Dr. Donna McGhie-Richmond
Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies
Faculty of Education
University of Victoria