Through my clinical experience so far, I have found that one of the most difficult aspects is to ensure that my students with special needs can perform the skills for the day. There are three different groups of special education students that come out at different times with mainstream classes. These students are not mainstreamed.
One of the groups includes four girls who are adorable, very sweet and kind. I try to make sure that they always partner up with different people since they are so used to begin around the students in their class because they do everything together. Three of the girls have great psychomotor skills. Sometimes I have to break down the skill but they usually understand what to do after this. One of the other girls has very low cognitive comprehension which makes it difficult for her to perform a skill. With her I usually have to break down the skill to the most basic component and practice this first before going on further. She is timid when it comes to jumping and catching objects so I always try to be encouraging.
One of the other students who has help me become a better teacher is a student who has severe autism. He has great psychomotor movement but his language is very limited. I speak to him in very simple vocabulary such as “look” or “you try.” I mostly communicate with him through performing an act. I show what he is supposed to do and he copies me.
I have found it more difficult to integrate special needs students because I still want every student to receive feedback and perform their best. When I see that one my special education students is not being successful, I keep going back to him or her so I can help. Even though I think of modifications and accommodations, before the lesson, it is very different when it comes to actually doing it in real life. Sometimes the things I had thought would work don’t and I have to be flexible and adjust right away to ensure the student is successful.
Even though it may be a challenge sometimes, I am so grateful to have these students come out with the other PE classes because they help me become a more effective teacher. When they are present I know I must clearly explain what I want the students to do so that everyone understands. I check for understanding and provide demonstrations. I try to do this anyway but I try to be more on my game when they are present. Also they help me in providing feedback. I go to every student including them to make sure that they are performing the skill correctly and spend a little extra time to make sure my students with special needs can perform the skill. I know that if they can do so, the other students should be able to do so as well.
When my special needs students are out with the rest of the class, my awareness of what is going on is even greater because I know that I need to make sure that the mainstream students are being successful and provide the necessary modifications for anyone that needs them to be successful.
I used to be intimidated about working with students with special needs before because I had never really interacted with them or go to know the student. However my experience in clinical practice has totally eradicated those feelings. I truly enjoy working with students who have special needs. These students are very smart in their own way and I love working with them to be successful. Having my girl student with low cognitive ability catch a ball after trying for five minutes to do and seeing the smile on her face is such a great reward. Although it might be challenging at times to ensure that I get to every student and provide them with the necessary feedback, I wouldn’t have it any other way.