Early childhood teachers' understanding of inclusive education and associated practices: reflections from Greece
This paper focuses on Greek regular and special preschool teachers' understanding of inclusion; their views about the engagement of children with disabilities in typical day routines/activities; and their preferred strategies for facilitating children's engagement in classroom activities. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with 77 teachers (45 regular and 32 special educators) drawn from 47 preschool mainstream settings in Greece. The analysis revealed that teachers hold conflicting and restrictive beliefs about inclusive education. Further, the teachers' accounts indicated that most of the children with disabilities were experiencing significant difficulties in their engagement during free-play as well as structured/semi-structured activities. Lastly, teachers identified a range of strategies that they deployed for promoting children's involvement in classroom activities. The paper concludes by highlighting the need to shift away from a narrow individualistic-deficit assumption of disability towards a socio-constructivist conceptualisation of 'diversity' and the establishment of genuinely inclusive school cultures. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.