How elementary principals define inclusion and use their definition to lead

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shanta Mitchell Buchanan (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Craig Peck

Abstract: The need for inclusion in today’s schools is a topic of discussion among scholars and practitioners. This discourse offers a range of understandings of what inclusion is and how it should look in practice. Despite the continuous conversation, a gap exists in research exploring how practicing administrators define and understand inclusion in order to lead. This study uses a generic qualitative methodology to explore this limitation in knowledge further. The purpose of this study is to examine principals’ perspectives and thoughts on inclusion by looking at their personal definitions of inclusion and their leadership actions. In this study, seven principals serving in elementary schools and one exceptional children’s administrator in the same school district were interviewed. Additionally, two principals were selected from the seven to be observed in their schools. The two principals had a second interview, which included the discussion of scenarios. The study unearthed themes related to how principals develop their personal definitions of inclusion, how and why they change their personal definitions, and how the school district’s definitions of inclusion and polices related to inclusion impact principals. The participants could verbalize their personal definitions of inclusion, explain how they were formed, and discuss how definitions changed over time, although their inclusive definitions differed. Participants understand why the district expects inclusion but did not have a true example of how inclusion should look in practice due to the elusiveness of the district’s definition of inclusion. Participants had mixed feelings about federal and state requirements such as high stakes testing and their effects on how they live their inclusive definition. Participants provided clear examples of how they shared their definition of inclusion with staff members and with the parents of students who have individual education plans. However, most were unable to state how they shared their inclusive thinking with the families of students who do not receive special education services or with the greater community. Analysis of the data from this study provided significant implications for principals, school districts, parents, and colleges and universities. Knowledge from this study provided some information to lessen the gap, but it also highlighted the continued need for research on how principals understand inclusion and lead.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Define, Elementary, Inclusion, Lead, Principals, Understand
Elementary school principals $x Attitudes
Educational leadership
Inclusive education

Email this document to