Maria Corte took on 15 special education students into her 5th hour. Knowing she already had 45 “regular” students to take care of and teach in that class, she embraced the opportunity and took on the challenge.
Corte worried how she would maintain structure in her class, whether her students with and without disabilities would be disappointed in their experience, and feared potential injuries occurring. Yet, despite these fears, Corte embraced her belief in treating all students equally and concluded the year with many positive outcomes!
First, Corte embraced inclusion! She reminds educators that it is a moral obligation to help each student feel included. Too often, students are seen as what they can’t do rather than what they can. When students with disabilities come into your class, look at their possibilities, not their disabilities. All kids can learn!
Every student in Corte’s class was expected to line up in alphabetical order for roll call. Keeping a consistent routine helped her class maintain structure. The students without disabilities helped the ones with disabilities remember their spot in line. Everyone used Uploadable Pedometers. Corte helped the students with disabilities find their pedometers back by attaching their name to the pedometer instead of a number. They also only focused on their steps and activity time.
Positive energy and clear management made Corte’s class a success.
Corte’s Classroom Rules:
- Stop, Look, Listen
- Respect the rights of others
- Hustle and say, “I can.” / “I’ll give it a try.”
- Never leave the gym area
- Keep your hands and feet to yourself
- Try your best and have fun
Corte soon discovered the challenges did not stop there. It was difficult sharing her classroom space with student aides. In order to lessen any confusion, Corte designated herself as the only one that gives instructions. After establishing roles and responsibilities, she built communication between her aides and herself, learning about the students’ disabilities, and building an understanding of their behaviors.
Corte’s goal for her class was that every student would have a positive experience and grow to accept one another. Along her journey she worked through students being overwhelmingly affectionate, having to give equal attention to all students, and never being trained in Adaptive PE. Yet, Corte overcame her fears and defeated the challenges she faced.
There were many moments in her class that proved that every child can learn. One day, she went to teach her students Ultimate Frog Toss. Her aides warned her that this game was not possible for the disabled students. Nevertheless, she worked with them and extensively explained the game; by the end of class they were playing Ultimate Frog Toss just like the other students. They fell in love with the game, asking to play it almost every day afterwards.
Corte’s class was such an impeccable experience that the next year her school started a modified PE class where students with and without disabilities participate in life long activities together!
You can watch the full Webinar Inclusion in PE; A Choice, Not a Mandate on our website!
Webinar Presenter: Maria Corte studied Physical Education at Arizona State University and later received her Master’s Degree in Education Administration at the University of Phoenix. She has worked as a physical educator at Mesa High School since 1994 and Arizona State University- Polytechnic Campus since 2005. Along with teaching, Corte coaches volleyball, cheerleading, track, and strength and conditioning. In 2004, she was named Arizona High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, and received the NASPE Southwest District High School Teacher of the Year Award in 2005.