Far too often we generalize people, thinking that we already have all the answers and know what to expect. When in all actuality, people are so different and so diverse that it is impossible to create a blanket statement r plan that is going to cover or work for everyone. The same goes for our students, and how we teach them. Not all students are going to learn in the same manner, and surely not at the same rate. Therefore we must learn to adapt our teaching styles to our students different learning styles. Some are going to do better with hands on, some just need to hear it. As physical education teaches we often fall into assumptions about our students and how they learn the skills and concepts in our classroom.
With all of this diversity in our general education population, it must be even more diverse in our special needs population, right? Of course it is, but as educated and motivated educational leaders, we are up to the challenge. The old way of explain briefly and demonstrate doesn’t necessarily work for all students, especially those with these special needs. We need to do more to stimulate their learning and find new inventive ways of getting the information to them. We need to be choosing equipment carefully, and taking even more care in our planning. If we know that students are going to need extra care in a certain area, then we need to be planning ahead with how we are going to tackle the challenge. Just coming in and rolling out the balls is not going to teach our students anything, so we must steer far away from that concept.
Our classes are already a completely different environment than a typical classroom, so we need to make sure that we are taking full advantage of our time and space. We need to mold the environment to our goals. If we know that our students have difficulties with crowds or distractions, we need to plan for that and look for alternative places to teach rather than in the hectic loud gymnasium to ensure that we are setting them up for success. Then after they have grasped the concepts or moved closer to mastery of the skills, transition in distractions and people in order to ease them into the more difficult situations. While I fully understand that relocation isn’t often going to be a realistic option, having students practice the skill facing a wall or the bleachers rather than the crowds may be a way to eliminate some of the distraction.
If attention span is a battle that you face constantly, look for new ways to bring the students in. Since our culture is so consumed by technology already, why fight the current? Bring in new pieces of technology that are going to get the kids interested, and make your life even easier. It is becoming a more common sight to see classroom teachers using technology every day, so why not a Physical Education teacher? While we don’t have a large projection screen or smartboards, we can use tablets with videos to show specific clips for demonstrations. This is something that is so simple yet is going to net huge gains in attention by many students. Further on in my studies this semester I plan to go far more in depth with how we can utilize technology in our gyms to benefit our students.