Before I delved further into the design process, I decided to road test my idea – to get a bit of a feel for how the teaching community would receive Hii skills and see if they flagged any aspects that might raise potential issues. I decided to get opinions from 3 different types of people from the pedagogical community; people who taught, people who teach, and people who will teach.
First up was my grandfather (funnily enough, he supervised and lectured many of my current lecturers/supervisors) who has 40 odd years of HPE teaching under his belt. After giving him an explanation and background on Hii Skills and the motivations behind it, he responded with the following:
‘Well when I was teaching kids like that generally weren’t included much, if at all. To say lack of teacher aides these days is an issue is nothing in comparison to what we had to work with! Larger classes and less of all this specialized equipment you lot seem to have, made it virtually impossible to make sure the less able kids were getting the same quality of education. And on top of that, sitting on the sidelines because of inability or bad behaviour hardly makes for a fun time. So in that regard, finding a way to include the kids with staffing limitations is a step in the right direction. As an old fart, I had a bit of trouble following all the technical aspects of the plan. But one-on-one attention with good rapport will never go astray in any area of teaching. So if you can get all the …bits to work, then I can’t see why it wouldn’t do the trick’.
So that looks like a big thumbs up to the motivations behind this big idea!
Next up was a full-time HPE teacher from my current prac school.
‘In this particular school, we don’t have too many cases of kids with disabilities, intellectual or physical. You will find the occasional kid with mild ASD or ADHD, but I think you’d find – as we do – that they’re high level functioning enough to include in class normally. But you’re right in identifying the resourcing as an issue, it really is a major problem, so I like where the idea is going in trying to address that. I will mention though, that it might still be difficult to implement because if the kids are so impaired that they require additional program support, they’ll more than likely need some kind of supervision. Also, how do you choose who can get involved in the program? Is it an intervention or a last resort type of thing? ’
And finally in true Gen Y fashion, I sent out messages via Facebook to 4 pre-service teachers asking their opinions. Below are some highlights of their responses:
“Identified a good niche….”
“As aspiring teachers we know that there’s a huge variation of learning needs in each class that must be catered to. If I had this extra support I guess it’d take the nervousness and pressure off a bit.”
“Kids love it when I involve games in my lessons. Same goes for when I include technology. So double bonus using them together. The kids will love it!”
“Would it be possible for students to play against other students of similar levels in from different schools? Having that competitive aspect or connection might work as a good goal?”
“It would be a good opportunity in rural settings where HPE teachers are not specialized in disability education. I guess all they’d need was a connection to the tutor and the kids get the individual attention they need.”
“Personalized and inclusive without relying on massive amounts of contact numbers and hours (expertise and money)”
So as we can see, there are a fair few points of interests and valid concerns have been raised in the interviews above. Unfortunately though, in the absence of time (and space), you’ll have to wait until the next blog to see these issues addressed.