Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Wendy Luttrell

Committee Members

David Connor

Judith Kafka

Subject Categories

Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Special Education and Teaching


deservingness, belonging, education, settler-colonialism, structural racism, narrative inquiry


Using the tools of narrative, discourse, and visual analysis, this study examines the sensemaking of educators and former students who work(ed) and learn(ed) in self-contained special education settings. In three individual interview sessions (and one final sensemaking session), I interviewed fourteen educators and nine former students who work(ed) and learn(ed)in different kinds of self-contained settings within the New York City public school system.This project is not about a specific school, as self-contained classrooms exist in different configurations and locations throughout the city and the country. To protect the participants, all names and references to specific schools and programs have been changed. More than anything, this is a project that seeks to counter, complicate, and change the narrative of the deficit-laden research that currently informs decisions about special education and the exclusion of students who challenge traditional classroom practices such as sitting still or following directions.

People Don't Know.mp4 (212325 kB)
"People Don't Know" stop motion video

Lit Final.mp4 (407703 kB)
"Lit" stop motion video