Definitions for a range of terms you may encounter while working in an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) Classroom and other inclusion settings.

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A discriminatory practice based on the belief that non-disabled and neurotypical persons are superior and assume people with disabilities are inferior and need “fixing.”

An accommodation is a tool provided or strategy used to allow a student to fully access a lesson or activity. Unlike a modification, an accommodation does not change the learning goal or outcome.

ADA stands for the Americans With Disabilities Act, a federal civil rights law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Teaching that actively works to dismantle the structures, policies, institutions, and systems that create barriers and perpetuate race-based inequities for people of color. This can be done by re-evaluating curriculum and practices, educating students to understand privilege and rethink power, and supporting anti-racist policies.

The orientation and arrangement of the space can have an impact on student learning. This is sometimes prescribed in advance for a Teaching Artist, or they may have few options in changing the space for their lesson or workshop. Nevertheless, the arrangement of the physical space is important to consider.

This term refers broadly to the many ways educators—including Teaching Artists—measure, evaluate, and document students’ needs, learning, progress, skill-development, and more. Assessment can be done before, during, or after a single workshop or a full residency. Typically, when Teaching Artists are assessing students, the purpose is to understand how to appropriately challenge students, meet their learning needs, decide if/when adjustments to a workshop or residency are needed, or evaluate the success of a lesson plan, a curriculum, or the Teaching Artists’ skills and facilitation. See also Formative Assessment.

Audio description is the means by which blind and visually impaired people experience and access art and media forms that are typically considered to be predominantly visual in nature.


Behavior management is a series of strategies, procedures, and/or interventions used to manage or change student behavior. Behavior management interventions can happen at school-wide, classroom, or student-specific levels.

A brave space is a learning environment that encourages critical dialogue and multiple viewpoints and acknowledges that discomfort is necessary for learning and growth. In a brave space, all participants feel they can engage to be heard, to challenge and be challenged. Brave space is often used instead of “safe space,” because “safe” can discourage critical conversations and a “safe space” can never be guaranteed, especially for members of  marginalized and oppressed communities.


Caregivers may be a student’s parent or guardian, another at-home family member, or, in some cases, a hired professional. Caregivers become important to remote learning environments: Teaching Artists may engage, collaborate with, and support caregivers as a way to engage and support students in their home environment.

A strategy at the beginning of a lesson to help students transition into a workshop and to help the Teaching Artist(s) gauge the makeup and mood of the students in the room.

Classroom Management is a set of tools and strategies you can implement to effectively establish and maintain a structured learning environment while minimizing the potential for disruptive behavior. Approaches can look different from classroom to classroom depending on the needs and age of the students as well as the focus of study.

A term used throughout the GIVE Guide to refer to the General Education Teacher and/or the Special Education Teacher as well as any Paraprofessionals and Related Service Providers who may be present.

The end of the lesson plan, which may include reflection, emphasis of important information, a check for understanding, and/or a closing ritual.


This is a word that is used and understood in many different ways. In the medical model of disability, the term refers to physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental conditions that impair a person’s activities, senses, movement, and experiences.

In the social model of disability, disability refers to the societal structures and barriers that limit the activities and life choices of a person with disabilities. In this model, disability is understood as a social problem, not one created by the physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental conditions themselves. See also Person-First Language.

In Integrated Co-Teaching Classrooms within the New York City Department of Education, disabilities are classified according to the 13 categories included in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):

  • Specific learning disability (SLD): a large umbrella term that includes conditions related to reading, writing, speaking, reasoning, and math challenges.
  • Other health impairment: another umbrella for a range of conditions which impact strength, energy, or alertness. ADHD falls under this category.
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): a developmental disability which includes a wide range of symptoms that may impact behavior, many of which are connected to social and communication skills.
  • Emotional disturbance: a broad category that covers a range of mental health challenges from anxiety and depression, to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Some mental health issues may be classified under “Other health impairment.”
  • Speech or language impairment: covers challenges related to speech and language such as stuttering, mispronouncing words, difficulty understanding and using language, and more.
  • Visual impairment, including blindness: includes challenges related to vision including partial sight or blindness.
  • Deafness: covers students who can’t hear all or most sounds and are unable to process linguistic information through hearing, with or without a hearing aid.
  • Hearing impairment: refers to difficulties with hearing that fall outside of the definition of deafness.
  • Deaf-blindness: covers students who can’t hear all or most sounds and are unable to process linguistic information through hearing, with or without a hearing aid.
  • Orthopedic impairment: covers challenges with physical function and ability, such as cerebral palsy.
  • Intellectual disability: a type of disability that includes a below-average intellectual disability which may lead to challenges with communication, self-care, and social skills. An example is Down syndrome.
  • Traumatic brain injury: an injury caused by accident or some kind of physical force with lasting effects.
  • Multiple disabilities: acknowledges that if students have conditions in more than one of the above categories, they may need support beyond programs designed for just one disability.


Fundamental, not-so-easy-to-answer questions used to guide student learning. These are typically central to a lesson plan or curriculum.


Refers to both an action or role in the classroom. To float typically means to survey and move around the room, assess student engagement and understanding, and jump in to support students when needed. If two Teaching Artists are teaching together, there may be times in the lesson where one takes a primary facilitation role while the other floats.

A formative assessment is a way to assess students’ learning and comprehension throughout a workshop or residency. Often used to help you in your planning, formative assessments are typically low stakes and easy to perform throughout your residency (as opposed to only at the end of a workshop or residency). Examples include students completing entrance/exit tickets with prompts relevant to the lesson, describing how they feel during or after an activity with one word or movement, or sharing something as simple as thumbs up/down/middle to express their understanding. See also Assessment.


The General Education Teacher is half of the teaching team in an ICT classroom. This teacher may have greater training in the subject content and lesser training in working with students with disabilities. Throughout this guide, General Education Teachers may be referred to as a Classroom Professional along with their Special Education, Paraprofessional, and Related Service Provider colleagues.


This type of teaching prioritizes making changes to the classroom and its culture to foster a feeling of safety, and to focus on healing for students who have experienced some form of trauma. These teaching practices shift away from a focus on responding to a student’s behavior alone and instead asking, “What’s the story behind the behavior?” and considering the student’s whole self.


An activity or element at the beginning of the lesson that grabs students’ attention and gets them excited about the material.


An Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) Classroom within the NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) public school system is a classroom that is led by a General Education Teacher and a Special Education Teacher working in collaboration to ensure the entire class is included in the learning. ICT Classrooms have a mixed population of students with and without Individualized Education Plans. The NYC DOE sets the limit of students with IEPs at no more than 40% of students in the classroom.

IDEA stands for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a federal law that was passed in 1975, then reauthorized in 1997 and 2004 with additional provisions. It is designed to ensure that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free, appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.

An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan for a student with a disability that affects academic performance. Teachers, Paraprofessionals, parents, and students collaborate on an IEP to set goals and specify necessary accommodations in the classroom. As a Teaching Artist, you will likely not have access to students’ IEPs, but you may be able to collaborate with your partnering teachers to understand important insights, needs, and goals from those plans.

Bias or prejudice that someone may be unaware they have or are acting on. This is also sometimes referred to as “unconscious bias,” as scientists speak about this happening on an unconscious level.

The part of a lesson plan that includes the teaching of a specific skill or subject area. Modes of instruction can include providing information verbally, providing visual information or directions, modeling, and more.

The part of the lesson during which students get to try out the newly learned skills or further explore a topic independently.

Intersectionality is the study of how overlapping or intersecting social identities—such as race, gender, and class—relate to systems and structures of discrimination and inequality.


Often abbreviated as LP, this is a document created by a Classroom Professional or Teaching Artist to outline the structure and content of an upcoming period of instruction.

Liberated Learning Environments are environments free from restrictive and limiting barriers imposed by racist and ableist societal structures, and are collaborative and co-generative, intersectional settings guided by anti-racist, anti-ableist, stigma-free, anti-colonial practices. Liberated Learning Environments are not static; they change and evolve to meet the ongoing needs of students and facilitators as a community.

This term is inspired by Paolo Freire’s work, which you can learn more about in Pedagogy of the Oppressed.


This concept may have different names depending on the Teaching Artist, organization, or setting, but it typically refers to the overarching goal of your workshop or, if working in a residency model, your curriculum.

An important part of successful lesson planning, materials are the items and/or technology that you, your students, and the Classroom Professionals will need to be successful in the lesson.

An important part of inclusive teaching, modeling refers to demonstrating a skill or activity while providing verbal instructions or information. Modeling can be a supportive strategy to ensure students understand and feel confident in the content.

A modification is an adjustment to a lesson or activity that may affect the steps or results in order to make the lesson or activity fully accessible to a student or a group of students. According to the NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE), a modification means that the learning goal changes, unlike an accommodation which maintains the learning goal or outcome.

This term refers to the practice of supporting students by presenting information in a variety of ways throughout a lesson. This can mean presenting information visually (with words and images), verbally (by saying and repeating concepts and instructions), kinesthetically (by providing examples for students to touch or try out), and more.


The NYC DOE is a part of the city government and is responsible for managing the public school system in New York City. The NYC DOE sets the structures and standards for Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classrooms.


Often used in the lesson planning process, the objective identifies what students will be able to do by the end of the lesson. Objectives can include using a certain skill, performing a specific task, understanding a particular topic, etc.


The part of spoken communication that is not word-dependent: pitch, tone, speech hesitation, facial expression, etc.

A Paraprofessional (Para) is a trained professional working in ICT and self-contained classrooms with students with disabilities. Paraprofessionals may be paired with one student in the classroom to support medical or behavioral needs, or may be assigned to support the classroom as a whole. Throughout this guide, Paraprofessionals may be referred to as “Paras,” “Classroom Professionals,” “adults in the room,” and more.

Person-first language is language practice used to identify an individual or a group of individuals that leads with the person first. For example, “young person with a disability” as opposed to “disabled young person.”

While every organization and Teaching Artist has different expectations and practices surrounding planning meetings, these meetings typically take place before a workshop or residency. This is a time to discuss shared goals, roles, and resources, and to talk about the needs, strengths, and interests of those in the room. The planning meeting may (but will not always) involve the Teaching Artist, Organization Administrators, General Education Teacher, Special Education Teacher, School Administrators, Paraprofessionals, and Related Service Providers.


As connected to disability—the mental tendency for the label of a group to become the label for an individual, as opposed to seeing each person as an individual. The idea that disability as a whole or a specific disability is a concrete and objective thing instead of a subjective part of a person’s lived experience, and that a person with a disability is an object with the assigned qualities of the disability and not a complex and dynamic human being.

Students create meaning from their experience by revisiting what was learned, processing their learning experience, and making connections to their lives beyond your workshop or residency. Reflection can take many forms and should not be limited to just discussion.

A performance that makes particular efforts to support audience members and performers in experiencing the show with accommodations that make the experience more accessible, whether they need more or less sensory stimulation, need to stand up and move, need easy access to the bathroom or a space to take a break, etc. See also Sensory Overstimulation.

Remote or distance learning is when students engage in an online classroom. Each school may use a different platform for remote learning (Google Classroom or Zoom, for example), and Teaching Artists may utilize synchronous or asynchronous learning—or a hybrid of both.

  • Synchronous learning: Remote education that occurs in real time, or “live,” is often referred to as synchronous learning. This can be between the Classroom Teacher/Teaching Artist and the students or between students, and it allows for more immediate interactions and conversations with participants.
  • Asynchronous learning: Some schools offer asynchronous learning, which does not occur “live,” but rather as recorded lessons and assignments for students to do on their own. Not all students may have access to the internet or a computer at all times, so asynchronous learning allows all participants to do an activity or lesson in their own time.

In the field of Teaching Artistry, a residency typically refers to a series of workshops a Teaching Artist(s) facilitates in a school, after-school program, community center, or other learning space. The residency may last several weeks to several months. The arc of a residency may be connected by a curriculum focusing on a particular art form, theme, or working toward a particular outcome (a performance, student portfolios, etc.).

Actions that are repeated at the beginning, end, or moments of transition during a workshop or class. Rituals can take the form of a group activity, mantra, meditation, stretch, freewrite/draw, and more. The goal of a ritual is to build community and belonging, to establish a particular tone or energy in the room, to express shared values and beliefs, etc. Important for students of all abilities, rituals can ease transitions, support self-regulation, and anchor focus.

The focus or specific tasks a Classroom Professional takes on to participate, support, and contribute to your lesson while class is in session.


Scaffolding is the process of systematically building upon a student’s knowledge and experience as a way to enhance learning. Think of your objective for a lesson or a unit of lessons. What foundational skills and knowledge will need to be in place to support students in reaching a new high point? The intentional mapping, timing, and facilitation of those foundations will inform your scaffolding.

Self-regulation usually refers to the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and behaviors. People of all abilities may need support at different times to successfully self-regulate. Sometimes, self-regulation can refer to ways students guide their own learning—determining their own entry point, pace, process, and goal.

A sensory space or sensory room is used to decompress and regulate emotions before re-engaging with an activity or the classroom community. This space or room will generally contain objects, furniture, and other design elements that help make the space calming and comfortable.

Sensory overstimulation is an overload of sensory information that can have a variety of effects on someone such as difficulty focusing or processing, irritability, discomfort, a desire to shield oneself from certain inputs (e.g., covering ears or eyes), etc.

The process of developing self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, feel and show empathy in meaningful interactions with others, set and work toward goals, make responsible decisions, and more.

The Special Education Teacher is half of the teaching team in an ICT classroom. This teacher may have greater training in working with students with disabilities and lesser training in the subject content. Throughout this guide, Special Education Teachers may be referred to as “teachers,” “partnering teachers,” “Classroom Teachers (CTs),” “Classroom Professionals” and more.

Notions that shape our perceptions of groups, individuals, and lived experiences based on race, ethnicity, geography, status, body, age, gender, and disabilities.


Often abbreviated as TA, a Teaching Artist is a professional visual, performing, or literary artist who works in schools and in the community. The Teaching Artist is an educator who integrates the creative process into the classroom and the community. TAs may perform for the students and teachers, may work in long-term or short-term residencies in classrooms or a community setting, or may lead in program development through involvement in curriculum planning and residencies with school partners.

The action that facilitates moving from one place or activity to the next is referred to as a transition. The goal of a successful transition is to help students make a shift while maintaining focus, to alleviate anxiety for students who have difficulty with transitions, and to conserve valuable learning time. Teaching Artists typically facilitate three different kinds of transitions: entering the space/starting the lesson, moving between activities, and ending the lesson/leaving the space.


According to the nonprofit education research and development organization CAST, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is “a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.” We use UDL in this guide as a framework for planning and teaching that considers how to make a lesson or activity accessible for as wide a range of students with and without disabilities as possible.


Typically short and dynamic activities, warm-ups are a way Teaching Artists can quickly assess student engagement and energy, activate and energize participants, and introduce a skill or concept connected to the lesson plan.

A prevalent set of cultural norms that support the idea that white, non-disabled, cisgender, heteronormative people of European descent are the ideal/normal humans. These norms or concepts are often not named but deeply ingrained in American society, educational systems, and organizations.


In the field of Teaching Artistry, a workshop refers to a single visit by a Teaching Artist to a classroom, after-school program, community center, or other space in which students or other participants receive specialized instruction in a particular art form or technique within an art form.

Sometimes included in lesson plans, words of the day may include key concepts or vocabulary that students will learn and use during the lesson. Consider sharing the word(s) in multiple ways: saying it out loud, writing the word and providing a drawing or image, leading the class in saying it together, etc.