I have submitted my idea for Story Games in a business plan competition as recommended by my tutor. There is a prize of £1,000 for the most cogent plan to kick-start the idea into business. Me and PE teacher A are very excited about this.
Once again I was interested in the morning session run by the OT, so I decided to join her today. On arrival I got talking to her about her experiences and what she liked to include in her sensory sessions. She mentioned her studies in sensory integration and the uses she knew it had with special needs children. She referred to the “fight or flight” responses when we began discussing the different elements of sensory integration and why it was interesting to us. She went on to add “we’re all influenced by sensory input, knowingly or not. An unconscious animal will face a predator and will respond to that sense of fear whether it’s a fight or a flight. But as sentient beings I think it’s important that we acknowledge that sensory input so we can learn to predict certain behaviour.” She introduced me to a sheet that she was holding which was to provide a means of monitoring the children’s level of calmness in response to certain stimuli. This way she will learn to predict what behaviour and when from the students in this session, and she can learn the best ways for them to calm down and relax before their busy days begin. The sheet was a relatively new creation so unfortunately she had no previous documentation to show me, but she seemed eager to get it going and I wished her luck with it.
Only two students turned up today and one pupil headed straight for the vestibular swing and stayed their the entire session. The OT did well to pay him attention though, by sitting with him often and imitating certain noises he made as a light form of communication. I noticed her squeezing parts of his body like hands and feet which I recognised as a deep pressure therapy method from my reading. The pupil did not seem to respond much so it was difficult to tell whether or not he liked it; to be honest the look on his face suggested not even he knew that. But despite being sat in a swing he was relatively lively, making noises and even finding ways to swing himself and was turning over onto his belly. The OT said that it was great to see him investigating as it indicated that he was comfortable in his immediate environment.
The other pupil was also lively and inquisitive today, moving back and forth across the room as if finding something knew to do. I wondered at this point if the pupils were calm for the fact there were not as many of them in the session today, I also wondered if their moods had a significant effect on each other. I speculated that if one pupil is particular calm then that may have a profound influence on others in close proximity, particular with this group who are obviously in touch with their senses; for example if a pupil was distressed and began making enormous amounts of noise it would surely unnerve those around him as this would provide a new and frightening sensory input for them. But today the pupils were just as calm and as curious as each other.
Lesson 2 - Class B
When I returned to the sports hall area I was greeted by Supply teacher B, who told me she had planned some ideas for hockey skills practice.
The class was placed into 4 groups of three, including me, to do warm up relays. Supply teacher B instructed the class to perform a number of different relays including skipping, speed walking, and hopping. As usual some students were reluctant to perform certain skills, particularly the skipping, but continued to do so anyway.
After their warm up the class were put into pairs and collected their hockey sticks. I placed rows of small cones across the width of the sports hall for the pairs to stand by. Their challenge was to dribble a ball around each cone and bring it back to pass to their partner. With this group, most of the practice seemed well executed, but occasionally a student would falsely claim they were incapable or would grow frustrated or bored and end up hitting the ball to their partner from far away. Supply teacher B obviously knew the class well as she wasn’t surprised by their behaviour and reaffirmed the rules of the task while giving out any necessary warnings. The group were then given the challenge with a competitive element, they had to see how many times they could complete the dribble and then pass to their partner in one minute. The students performed well, although some tended to be discouraging of other’s attempts in order to create more competition.
Lesson 3 - Class C
Supply teacher B remembered this class and knew that hockey would not be suitable at all, so I reminded her that we would probably be best setting out the large trampoline. This session was a nice quiet one with the rebound instructor and Supply teacher B communicating very effectively about the work they had done with children on trampolines so they could both share the work today. I knew Supply teacher B had been a trampoline instructor in a mainstream school and was interested in become a qualified rebound instructor for children with special needs, so it was nice to see her getting so involved.
Lesson 4 - Class D
This class also practiced hockey skills. They were placed into groups for the relay warmups and it was interesting to see how differently they performed to Class B this morning. Particularly with the hopping relay, students seemed to struggle an awful lot with the coordination of using two feet at the same time in a different way. In fact I don’t think I saw one student hop with fine or consistent accuracy. Nonetheless the pupils all plowed through the warmup which took them much longer than this mornings class, giving less time for the main tasks.
Supply teacher B asked the class to choose their pairs after she had told them they were playing hockey. Interestingly enough, all but one pair made their way over to the hockey sticks and took one before standing on the white line were they directed to be. Supply teacher B asked the class to recall her exact instructions to highlight that at no point did she tell them to collect a hockey stick. After she emphasised their lack of listening she made all the students who were holding a stick and put it back. The students did as they were told and clearly felt slightly foolish for their overexcitement; they then stood back on the white line and awaited to be given a stick by myself instead.
After the hiccup in listening, the class as a whole went on to perform well with a brilliantly positive attitude towards their work. As before they dribbled balls around the cones and passed to their partners. Pupil 1 and 2 in particular struggled very much to keep the ball under control, but remained consistent in their effort. Supply teacher B and the TA’s of this class made sure to focus on these pupils and helped them to watch the ball closely. Supply teacher B also tried to guide many of the students by telling them which hand goes where on the stick, but most of them did not know their left and right so took a bit of time to process and interpret her instructions accurately.
The class managed to have a quick go of seeing how many passes they could make in 30 seconds, which I imagine was shortened from a minute when Supply teacher B not only became aware of the time running short, but the lack motor skills in this class compared to Class B. As always though, this class tried their best and enjoyed the lesson.
Lesson 5 - Class E
The final lesson of the day was with Class E and Supply teacher B and I practiced hockey skills with this group as well. I didn’t mind running through the same lesson more than once in a day as it was also insightful to watch how the different classes performed when given the same activities; it helps me to establish further the capabilities, behavioural elements and passions of each group and can prove helpful when it comes to planning and differentiating my own games and tasks.
Not dissimilarly to Class B, this group seemed to perform well physically but the behaviour of some students let them down. I have come to notice with this group that they tend to behave more on my other placement day when we have the in the middle of the afternoon. On this placement day this group is always at the end of the timetable and students seem to get more tired and appear less enthusiastic if they’ve had a boring day. Today I noticed one student, who is among the most able of the group failed to listen intently to any given instruction and during any demos. This student was also inclined to run through tasks very quickly and enjoyed smacking the ball against the wall with his hockey stick rather than passing it to his partner at all.
When it comes to conducting some more of my own lessons with this class I will be mindful of the time of day in order to help me predict any disruptive behaviour so I will be more equipped to deal with it.
Live life to the full.