School is the place where kids learn how they fit in the world: Professor Jacqui Specht researches inclusive school communities.
People for Education is partnering with leading Ontario researchers to highlight emerging research. Find out more.
Meet Professor Jacqui Specht
Our featured researcher
In a four-year research project, Jacqui Specht talked to teachers, parents and students with exceptionalities about how to ensure all students are a part of their secondary school community. As students are becoming more independent, and spending less time with their different teachers, finding ways to connect is particularly important.
Do you have a question for Professor Specht?
As our featured researcher, Jacqui is looking forward to receiving your questions about:
- Building inclusive school communities
- Strategies to support the success of students with exceptionalities
- Promoting resilience
No question is too big, or too small. We will post all your questions and Jacqui’s answers, here on our website. Simply use the form at the top right of this page.
Read the latest Q & A with Professor Specht
>> Question 1: I have a 17 year-old son with multiple challenges…
Learn more about Professor Specht
Professor Specht’s research revealed a range of strategies that made a difference to students in secondary schools:
- In the classroom, teachers who had positive connections with students who were struggling made a big difference. Some teachers circulate ‘get to know you’ surveys at the beginning of the year; others model a warm and accepting environment that provided support for struggling students.
- Extracurriculars make a different to all students’ sense of inclusion – but there may be barriers for those with exceptionalities. When schools communicate about what clubs or activities are
vailable, using a website for example, it is easier for parents and students to strategize to make sure those doors are open.
- Ensure all students find a role where they can contribute to the school. In elementary and middle school, many children with exceptionalities identified themselves as helpers. Make sure that students have the opportunity to help – and be helped – with initiatives like a buddy system.
Professor Specht is also the Director of the new Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education. The centre creates an opportunity to work with researchers from across the country, and observe successes and challenges in other provinces that are working to implement human rights to inclusive education. For example, New Brunswick has developed a framework that provides support for teachers implementing a clear policy direction from the province that inclusion is a top education priority.
Professor Specht has a background in psychology. A strong sense of social justice, and work at the Thames Valley Children’s Centre gave her research its current focus.