The goal of this paper is to present a "theory of action" for guiding professional practice in reversing the "cycle of exclusion" in education. Our theory is based on twenty years of intervention and action research in Israeli schools that serve pupils who have the ability to succeed but fall into chronic failure and severe behavioral problems. Over the years, these students have been termed "marginal", "deprived", "underachievers", and "at risk". Our research led to a breakthrough, when we learned to "reframe" these problems in terms of "social exclusion". This framing enabled us to see that educators working with these students experience exclusion as well. We discovered that exclusion from mainstream education evolves as a system of interlocking cycles of exclusion involving students, school staff, and the school’s institutional environments. By shifting from a deficit model to a systemic approach, this framing also guides practice by placing the focus of intervention on changing "relationships" rather than fixing individuals.