Skip to main content

(Dis)ability in the Elementary School Classroom: Embracing an Inclusive Mindset

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Social Justice Instruction


Children can learn about diversity and disability by harnessing their natural curiosity. They can become agents of change for the adults who surround them. We must go beyond accessibility and move into an inclusive mentality. Teachers need an inclusive mindset that shapes how they approach all students in the classroom. Thinking about learners rather than impairments is where Universal Design for Learning (UDL) plays a pivotal role in making classrooms more accessible to all. We can teach our students about ableism and ways of viewing the world through the lens of another. Teachers must ensure that the classroom library is representative of all students in the classroom and beyond. Literature has the unique ability to build empathy and nurture social acceptance by allowing students to imagine themselves in the shoes of the character in the story. A teacher can transform their classroom by shifting to an inclusive mindset, helping students develop deep and meaningful relationships with diverse students, implementing UDL effectively, and creating a classroom community where curiosity is encouraged. All students will develop deeper relationships with one another, become empathetic and appreciative of diversity, and will become agents of social change in their communities.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

USD 16.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Danielle M. Eadens .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Eadens, D.M., Eadens, D.W. (2016). (Dis)ability in the Elementary School Classroom: Embracing an Inclusive Mindset. In: Papa, R., Eadens, D., Eadens, D. (eds) Social Justice Instruction. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-12348-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-12349-3

  • eBook Packages: EducationEducation (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics