I recently did a Gopher Webinar on Inclusion in PE in July, and I was surprised at how many other PE teachers shared with me that they too are teaching special needs students in their regular PE classes. Therefore, I thought I’d share this again, this time in blog style!
Why This Topic?
Last year, I had the great fortune of having 15 special needs students added to one of my PE classes. Inclusion in my PE class did start out as a mandate, but something wonderful happened… it became a choice. I currently teach a new course called Modified PE. There are approximately 50 students in the class with a 1:1 ratio of students with disabilities and students without disabilities all working together to become physically active!
Embracing Inclusion in P.E.
As educators, it is our moral obligation for all students to feel included. There shouldn’t be one group that is considered more special than the rest. They are all special. Rather than a how-to approach, this blog will be an opportunity to share with you my experience with inclusion and how it impacted myself and my students—all of my students.
Possibilities VS Disabilities
This is a mindset folks… if we look at these special needs kiddos as people with disabilities and what they can not do, it will be very difficult to have a vision of what they can do. If you give them a chance and approach each lesson with the attitude (and patience) that they are capable of participating in the same activities as your other students, you will be so surprised and oh so touched as to what they can do! Finally and most importantly, all students deserve basic rights or the same opportunities. All students deserve to have a positive PE experience. I frequently remind myself, “It doesn’t matter how they got here; they are here now and all my students will be treated equally.”
Tips for Success
- Be extremely structured with class format and rules
- Repetition is key!
- Practice management every day
- Practice putting equipment away
- Practice keeping hands and feet to themselves
- Keep instructions short and simple
- Discipline the students with disabilities the same as you would students without disabilities.
- Have an emergency plan in place and practice it
- Practice fire drills before they happen
- Modify lessons and/or equipment for student success (but not too much)
- Don’t assume they are incapable; they’re not
- Be flexible
- Create a positive working relationship with the SPED teachers and instructional aides
- Get to know students, get them moving, play music, and have fun!
Final thought… Let’s be advocates of ALL students.