Integrated Classes Are Underrated


Photo by Sofia Tymchyshyn

Special education student doing an art activity in Integrated Art.

Kenzie Vetorino, Staff Writer

In the spring of 2021 my counselor called me into his office to discuss my schedule. Everyone dreads that talk with their counselor knowing it’s going to end with you having a whole new schedule. However this schedule change would alter my thinking and give me a new perspective on my life, because with that change in my schedule I was introduced to integrated classes. 

Integrated classes are held with both mainstream, and special education students. There are two different integrated classes students can take:integrated art and integrated gym class. I took integrated art last year and this year continued with integrated gym. I am working with the same students as last year and meeting some new ones as well. Before you even meet the students you have to learn about the different types of disabilities that they may have. Though your teachers can not tell you which disabilities the students have, you will have a good idea after you learn about the different disabilities. You are told to treat them like regular students and only give them help when they need it, because you don’t want to do the work for them or they won’t learn the skills. 

Mainstream students really focus on helping them follow directions and keeping them on track. However, it can be difficult as some students may have a hearing impairment or be nonverbal. For students with hearing impairments it will take a few times of repeating directions before they process what to do for the project. For the nonverbal students, you and the student will use hand signals such as a thumbs up and thumbs down to communicate. You will also have students that will try to avoid doing work so making lessons as fun as possible for the students is key to keeping them engaged. Other students may have difficulty even holding a pencil so making modifications, such as wrapping paper towel around the pencil to make it thick enough for the student to hold is helpful. 

This class is a good way to learn about how these kids live their lives. It also opens your eyes to how much we can do for ourselves. These students are the best and the fun you’ll have in these classes is unmatched. These integrated classes are definitely worth taking for an eye opening and great experience that not a lot of students get to take. If you are given the opportunity to take this class then seize it. 

In both of the classes that I took you got the opportunity to teach your own lessons throughout the year and I did some fun ones that the students loved. In art class I did a paper mache project for my first lesson. This project was a challenge because we made the mixture for the paper mache with flour and water. For many students they did not like touching this substance so we gave them gloves or a tool to help them overcome that obstacle however by the end of the lesson almost all the students were going in with their bare hands and really pushing past the sensory problems that were being caused.