As PE teachers, we have all been there a number of times.....Trying to reach the student that seems unreachable. Attempting to involve them in your class, spark their interest, tap into their strengths, but often times it seems like an impossible task. It can certainly be frustrating when you have many other students that you must teach as well. I would like to share a successful strategy that I have used with two of my students that are often challenging and very tough to reach in PE class. I will first generally describe both students then explain the strategy that I use with them.
-a grade 1 girl
-very bright but extremely reserved
-will not join in on any activity for more than a minute or so
-withdraws suddenly going to hide in corners, behind mats or curtains etc.
-extremely afraid of taking risks
-very difficult to make a connection with and has difficulty reading social cues
-absolutely adores reading (reads at grade 4 level)
In collaboration with our Learning Support department, we created a simple behavior modification program that can be used every PE class. The grade 1 girl must be able to take breaks. Realizing her love of reading and using this as a reward for her better following instructions and, at least, engaging in the activities that we do in PE for a short time, she is allowed to pick certain times in class to go to the bench and read one of the books she has brought with her to class. She is encouraged to rejoin the activities on her own after a few minutes of reading. She is only allowed to read after she has shown that she is following instructions and genuinely engaging herself in PE class. A checklist with 3 simple questions was made up and laminated. After each class, she answers yes or no to the three questions. I use whiteboard marker to check the boxes and make any comments. I will then take a picture of the checklist at the end of each class and add it to a file that I have for her to track her progress. Since day one of using this checklist, she has made a huge improvement in both attitude and level of participation in class. Please see picture below of the checklist dated Dec. 5th.
-a grade 4 boy
-mild form of Asperger syndrome
-poor social skills
-eye contact rarely made
-lagging 2-3 years behind in terms of gross motor control and hand/eye coordination
-often refuses to take part in any physical activity
-hides in corners and suddenly disappears on extended bathroom breaks
-an excellent artist
-always willing to assist teacher with set up and collecting equipment
In collaboration with our Learning Support department, we created a behavior modification program that can be used every PE class. The grade 4 boy has five areas that he has to focus on during each class. These 5 areas are included on a checklist.
Listening to the teacher
Participating in at least one form of exercise each class
Choosing at least 2 activities to engage in (keeping score, researching the sport being done in class on the internet, drawing a picture of some technical aspect of this sport in his Sportfolio, handing out and collecting equipment)
Trying to socialize with classmates at least once during the class (he must try to initiate the dialogue)
Assessing how well he did in the class
As with the grade 1 girl, the checklist is laminated and whiteboard marker is used to make comments and check off how well the boy thinks he did. A picture of the checklist is taken after each class in order to track the boy's progress and as a means to communicate with learning support and his classroom teacher. Please see picture below of checklist dated Dec 13. The boy even made a comment that it was his favorite class of the year, so I quickly jotted that down on the checklist.
Teacher Reflection Question
What strategies do you use to reach students such as this? Please reflect on how you try to reach students like the ones I described above in your classes. If you have had successes, which I am sure many of you have, please share them with me and I will post them on this website for other teachers to see and use. Thanks!!