As an exceptional education instructor and behavior intervention program lead, I teach learning support and instructional strategies courses. In doing so, I assist students in fulfilling their specific individual education plan minutes. With changes to education plans throughout the school year, needs are altered at any time. Roster changes to my classes can happen randomly.
These roster changes mean new students enter my class. Things get adjusted on the fly, as students meet a new teacher, new peers, and get adjusted to a new daily curriculum. Due to my use of The Walking Classroom, these students also have to take on a brand new activity. This has brought about some very interesting findings!
This year, six new sixth grade students entered my Support Strategies class within a two-week period. The new students had interest in The Walking Classroom due to their peers’ use of the program. Once they began using the program though, the class climate began to change. Three of them had trouble with the physical endurance required to walk at a brisk pace for approximately fifteen minutes. Monitored by an adult, they would return to the classroom and continue to listen to the lessons. Students who did not have issue with walking prior to their new peers entering the program began asking for walking breaks rather than completing the lessons.
The overall scores began to decrease in the quizzes as well. Those who did not complete the walks scored lower than their peers who completed the walks. When given the chance to go outside and walk as opposed to walking inside of the school, all students completed the walks.
With these findings, I decided to adjust my use of the program. I reintroduced the program to all my students. Because I had such success with my prior classes, I believed the program could work despite the addition of new students to the class. To better present The Walking Classroom to the new students and to bring back pleasure and progress to the original students, I revamped my presentation. I worked to connect the topics to information the students learned in their core content classes, specifically social studies and ELA. Also, I provided more background information about each topic, having short videos of the topics at hand.
In addition, before listening to each lesson, I had each student focus on one particular question they would see on the quiz. I then had the students collaborate on the quizzes, making the quizzes group evaluations. This incorporation of teamwork meant each individual had to invest equally!
After a few new lessons, I saw an uptick in scores for the students and an increased level of cooperation among the group. I continue to work toward stronger presentation to ensure the individual success of each student.
Having to be innovative as a teacher is always required! Reaching students can be a task at times. We must continue to find ways to reach them so they may progress academically.
Exceptional Education Instructor
Bryan Station Middle School