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What is an ICT classroom?
It is a classroom designed to create a challenging and enriching learning environment for both general education students (60% of the class) and children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that mandate a ICT class (40% of the class). This class is co-taught by two teachers, a general education teacher and a special education teacher. Both teachers, as a team, teach all the children, and the special education children are included seamlessly in the classroom. The curriculum and expectations are identical to any other classroom of that grade. The model is sometimes called “inclusion” as it allows children to get the special education services they need right in the classroom, rather than having to spend part of the day apart from their peers. This is a great benefit for them.
What kinds of special needs do the special education students have in an ICT classroom?
There are many different kinds of special education services, ranging from very intensive to fairly minimal. Not all children receiving special education services would do well in an ICT setting. The students with IEPs that mandate ICT classes are those that have a diagnosed learning disability that benefits from the ‘role modeling’ of the general education students. The general education students develop confidence and leadership skills from being role models in both the academic and social environment. These students may also receive related services; such as Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy or Counseling.
How does an ICT classroom benefit the general education students?
The very nature of a two-teacher class allows for enhanced differentiation of instruction, which in turn enhances both support and enrichment for all students. With two full-time teachers in the classroom, every child gets more individual attention. Large-group activities can go more smoothly with a second teacher there to help settle the inevitable small disruptions. Students are all unique learners and the teachers in the ICT classes are highly trained to meet the specific academic needs of each student through strategies that match the range of individual interests, strengths and challenges. All children benefit in their personal development as well. The fact is that all children (and adults) face challenges to some degree – some face the challenge of a learning disability, others face challenges such as shyness, impatience, disorganization, a tendency to worry, etc. As one child works to overcome a difficulty, all kids can learn from his or her example. Kids also learn how they can help or encourage others. Students thrive in a socially compassionate and sensitive setting – one in which all students celebrate each other in a community of learning. And they learn from watching two adults collaborate in their work. Our ICT teachers model the same kind of team workmanship and mutual support that we encourage students to emulate. It is our hope that every student in a grade with ICT can experience this class at some point during their time at PS 58.
Isn’t the ICT class likely to perform poorly compared to other classes?
There is little reason to think that it would. The mix of abilities in this class will be the same as the mix of abilities in every other classroom. Our school already practices the mixing of abilities rather than tracking according to higher or lower abilities creating heterogeneous classrooms and it has worked well.
Can parents request that their child be placed, or not placed, in the ICT classroom?
Special education students will be placed in the ICT class according to the recommendations spelled out in their IEPs. As for general education students, they will be placed in the ICT class on the same basis that they would be placed in general education classes. That is, the students are grouped so that each class includes a mix of abilities, a mix of behavior styles, and a balance between boys and girls. The current teachers, who know the children well, put the groups together at the end of each year. Because the process is so complex, the school does not honor requests for a specific teacher or class, including for ICT.