In Harrison Township’s two schools, inclusivity is the standard. Each grade from kindergarten through 6th has two inclusive classrooms where students with disabilities work alongside their non-disabled peers. Even students with more pronounced physical or communication disabilities who typically work in much smaller classes of their own share some classes with non-disabled students.
For teachers working with students with disabilities across multiple classrooms, coordinating lesson plans and equipping students with the right learning tools wasn’t easy.
“It took a lot of work to manage inclusive classrooms, and it was time-consuming,” says Chad Flexon, Harrison Township’s Supervisor of Instruction, who taught math and language arts in an inclusive classroom for two years.
To adapt lessons to students’ needs, each special education teacher had to exchange paper-based lesson plans with the inclusive classroom teachers—a slow process. The lack of classroom technology also complicated the task of outfitting students with tools for enhancing learning. Harrison Township schools had desktop computer labs and a small number of netbooks for students to use in class. Teachers had to schedule access to the labs; they also had to ensure that students with disabilities could access devices with speech-recognition software or magnified screens.