Adaptive Physical Education Mentoring Program

Are you considering staring an Adaptive PE Mentoring Program?  What are you waiting for?  It’s so worth it! Your PE activities and curriculum can be easily adapted to include those with special needs.  Below I’ve shared a few of my thoughts and organization behind my program.

PE Team Activity Chart

1. Who do you select as a mentor?

The answer is simple. You select mentors that have an innate talent to teach students with special needs.  Watch how they interact with them in your integrated classes.  See who takes initiative and inherently enjoys them.  Make your list and go.  I have found a 3-1 ratio is great (3 mentors to 1 special needs student).  It allows for small game play, increased skill development with multiple opportunities for success and lots of attention with that student.  It’s a win-win.  I am fortunate that I can hand select mentors to teach my special needs students.  I select a mix of 6th, 7th and 8th graders.  It creates some cool connections with mixed grade levels.

2. When will this fit in your day?

It fits when you make it fit.  We have Adaptive Physical Education 2-3 days a week.  We alternate Blue and Gold days at my middle school.  “PE 2” as we call it, is during a daily class called ELO (Extended Learning Opportunity) on Blue days at the end of the day for 40 minutes.  On Gold days, I have an Elite Fitness class with those same mentors.  Some of those days for Elite Fitness are learning about teaching students with special needs, and some of those days we are working out, playing a non-traditional game or exposing students to lifetime fitness.  I have a new mentoring class each of the 4 quarters of the school year, so I can reach a lot of students with this program.

Students playing in a gym

3. How do I let mentors know that this is a big responsibility?

I want my mentors to know that this is a big deal.  I trust them to be a good teacher to my students with multiple special needs.  And I want their parents to know.  I e-mail the students and parents prior, and they must get permission and bring back their signed form.  My hope is that the mentor and student discuss this huge responsibility at home.  Essentially, they are in charge of their learning, meeting learning targets, their safety and their success.  It’s a big deal.

4. How do my mentors teach to the diverse needs of my adaptive students?

They warm up with them, teach the learning targets, set up their own equipment, handle some of their emotions and some minor behavior, they come up creative ways to teach skills and get them into small games.  Often times, each group looks very different from the other, and that is what makes it unique!

PE Classroom picture

5. Assessment? Yep!

I am looking for some things to be met by my mentors.  A good teacher/mentor is selfless (putting your “friend” first), being positive, finding a way for your friend to succeed, adaption of equipment, and some MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity).  For my special needs students, I am looking for the 3 P’s (participate, positive and productive).  Some of those expectations need to be flexible depending on the student.

 Summary

Can you do it?  Yes you can! Teaching this class has truly changed who I am as a teacher.  I am more patient, tolerant, and creative.  Now, go dream your dream and make this class happen because all students deserve great Physical Education! Don’t forget to check out high-quality Adapted PE equipment all backed by an Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Jo is a Physical Education Teacher and Department Chair at Lesher IB World Middle School in Fort Collins, CO. She is also a member of the Physical Education Cadre Team for the Colorado Department of Education. She was the 2005 Central District Middle School PE Teacher of the Year and the 2004 Missouri Middle School PE Teacher of the Year.

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