Inclusion Education

Teacher explaining to studentThe IDEAL School of Manhattan sets high standards for all learners by using differentiated instruction to meet each child where he or she is and to inspire a commitment to excellence and leadership in all of our students.

Every aspect of the IDEAL experience — instruction, assessment, program, enrichment — reflects a research-based commitment to inclusion education as a means for academic excellence. Inclusion is the full acceptance of all students in order to create a sense of belonging in the community and to prepare students for productive lives as full members of a diverse and global society. Because IDEAL teachers know their students as individuals in and out of the classroom, they are able to design instruction that builds upon the unique talents and strengths of the individuals in their room. Rather than a one-size-fits-all curriculum, differentiated instruction allows students to pursue the same subjects at multiple levels of complexity. Supportive faculty, low student-to-teacher ratios, small class sizes, and the use of differentiated instruction create a learning community where every student can succeed and every student has a voice.

DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION

Differentiation is an educational philosophy that recognizes and celebrates that all students are different and thus bring a range of strengths, challenges, and interests to the classroom. Teachers who differentiate carefully plan their objectives and goals for each unit before beginning a lesson and then they tailor their lessons to inspire and support the achievement of all students in their room.

In a differentiated classroom, students might choose their own research topic or be given a choice of projects to display their knowledge, thus engaging children with different interests or learning profiles while still developing the similar skills and understandings of the essential concept in all students. In another differentiated lesson, a teacher might organize a variety of small group activities within the same classroom based on the different levels of readiness of students for the topic; for example, in an algebra class, while all groups might be studying linear equations, some children might be ready to try equations with larger numbers while other children might still need to gain mastery of the concept by working with smaller numbers.

Teachers who differentiate never take student understanding for granted. So that teachers are always aware of the understanding of their individual students, differentiation also incorporates frequent, ungraded assessments to evaluate student progress informally. Such informal assessments allow teachers to adjust instruction based on authentic and immediate feedback on student learning.

INCLUSION IN THE LOWER SCHOOL

Collaborative team teaching coupled with small class sizes provide IDEAL teachers with the flexibility to incorporate ongoing and comprehensive observation and assessment into their instruction. In the Lower School, co-teaching teams pair a general educator and a learning specialist in every class to teach core subjects including math, reading, and writing and to allow teachers to develop a variety of engaging lessons each day to make learning fun. Some classes also have Associate Teachers work closely with students in the Dylan Program and support the co-teaching team in planning differentiated instruction and running small group activities. Subject-area specialists in the Science and STEAM Lab, the Spanish and ASL classrooms, Physical Education, and the Arts work closely with classroom teachers to foster creativity, interdisciplinary thinking, and problem solving skills. The Learning Center serves as the academic hub of the school, and electives such as Tae Kwon Do, yoga, and chess further enrich students’ days. Highly qualified therapists provide occupational, speech, and physical therapy to students in the Zenith and Dylan Programs during the elective blocks so that no student is pulled from whole-class instruction. A licensed Lower School counselor is available to all students to support and guide their social and emotional growth.

INCLUSION IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL

In the Middle School, teams of subject-area teachers meet together regularly to differentiate lessons, strengthen interdisciplinary connections, and incorporate project-based learning, thus ensuring all students are engaged together in the learning process. All Middle School students meet at the beginning and conclusion of each day in advisory groups of about eight to ten students led by a pair of teachers dedicated to knowing, celebrating, and growing each child. At the hub of our educational community is our Learning Center, which offers support from faculty and learning specialists and is staffed by teachers after school, every day. Students may receive individual or small-group academic support or enrichment in the classroom and in the Learning Center, depending on the individual child’s needs.

Academic instruction consists of a combination of co-teaching teams for some classes and small group instruction by a single teacher for classes of ten students or fewer. History and science are co-taught by a general educator and learning specialist in order to foster critical historical and scientific thinking skills. Small, multi-grade math classes ranging from foundational to more advanced classes such as Algebra 1 and 2 ensure that our teachers challenge and support each learner. Seminar-style English classes organized by learning profile offer appropriate levels of challenge and emphasize the development of voice, close reading, and effective writing skills; English groups for each grade begin and end units together and collaborate on a variety of projects throughout the year. Mandarin, American Sign Language, and Spanish are offered to Middle School students, and students who would benefit from additional support in reading and writing may work with a learning specialist or speech pathologist in the Learning Center in lieu of taking a global language. A wide variety of STEAM and arts electives and physical education classes round out each student’s day.

Students who receive related services do so during elective blocks or study halls, and therapists in the Middle School may also join classes such as English or physical education to strengthen learning and reinforce skills.

INCLUSION IN THE HIGH SCHOOL

The High School at IDEAL is a uniquely student-driven, flexible, and inclusive program. In small, seminar-style classes, our expert faculty cultivate the voice, skills, and confidence of each student. IDEAL’s High School supports students seeking a more individualized environment and personalized options than a traditional high school, while still emphasizing the nurturing student-faculty relationships that are the hallmark of an independent school education.

Our High School faculty consists of talented general educators, learning specialists, related service providers, school counselor, and a transition counselor dedicated to working with families and students as they go through the college and post-secondary program search and application process. Teams of subject-area teachers meet together regularly to differentiate lessons, strengthen interdisciplinary connections, and incorporate project-based learning, thus ensuring all students are engaged together in the learning process. Academic instruction consists of a combination of co-teaching teams and smaller group instruction by a single teacher. Low student-to-teacher ratios allow for flexible use of both homogenous and heterogeneous class groupings based on student goals and interests.

IDEAL offers opportunities for each student to advance at his or her own pace in a challenging, supportive, and diverse environment. Within IDEAL’s flexible program, students expand and build upon their own interests and explore diverse perspectives through our core curriculum and a wide array of student- and faculty-driven electives. Life skills are integrated into our program and range from training students to interview and write resumes successfully to daily living skills. Advanced course offerings are available for students who are seeking additional challenge. All students meet at the beginning and conclusion of each day in small, inclusive advisory groups led by a pair of teachers dedicated to knowing, celebrating, and growing each child. Depending on the individual child’s needs, students may receive individual or small-group academic support or enrichment in the classroom and from faculty and learning specialists in the Learning Center, which is the hub of our community and staffed by teachers both during the day and after school.

IDEAL’s multicultural curriculum and social justice instruction are embedded into all aspects of our High School program, from elective offerings to weekly community time that is focused on our diversity curriculum. Project Research, Internship, Service Experience (RISE) engages all students in a three-year program designed to cultivate service learning and emphasize and teach leadership skills such as confidence, communication, and collaboration needed for success in school and beyond.