Handling a Physical Education class of deaf students poses a unique set of challenges for a teacher. It is very crucial to consider the special needs of these children to help them learn fitness despite their hearing loss or impairment.
The key to effective Physical Education instruction to students with special needs is good communication. Here are some strategies to use for new instructors who will teach fitness to deaf students.
1. Learn basic sign language
You cannot teach hearing-impaired students without developing your sign language skills first because this is the only way to give direct commands in your classes.
Consider the fact that there are students who can lip read, and some communicate through American Sign Language or Makaton Sign Language. There are even students who use both lip reading and sign language to communicate with their classmates and teachers.
2. Be prepared to perform different communication levels
Not all students are fully hearing-impaired and in one class, you will meet students with a variety of hearing loss levels and preferences when it comes to communication methods.
Expect different hearing levels in your Physical Education classes. Some students cannot functionally hear, while others can partially hear with the help of hearing aids.
3. Make the class work together as a group
Make things a lot easier and less of an inconvenience to you by taking advantage of the fact that your students might have been trained to meet their communication needs on their own by being observant in class and following the actions of their classmates.
So for your teaching approach, demonstrate to them what they are supposed to do and then motivate them to work as a group. This will help them make sense of what is going on at the moment.
4. Establish predictability in class through routines
Get your class into a routine that makes it easy for everyone to act right when you do games, warm-ups, and cool-down exercises. Make sure that when you are going to make changes in the routine, you inform your class beforehand.
5. Use a stop-and-look strategy
This teaching method works well when holding your Physical Education class outdoors. The stop-and-look strategy works on the basis of a visual signal in combination with auditory signals. When you provide a signal, such as a wave of a flag or hand, students are expected to stop and look.
6. Create an emergency signal for safety
It is ideal to devise an emergency signal in your first day of class so that your students know that they should go to a safe place should an emergency happen, such as an earthquake, heavy downpours, or a major injury.
7. Always face your students
When you turn your back while talking with your class, it is like you are disrupting your communication lines with them. Of course, how can your students read your lips when they cannot see your face? So always face your class when you are talking to avoid losing your communication with them.