When I was younger, I used to help instruct students for fitness, specifically, at a Tae Kwon Do Studio. I was only a teenager myself, so I was put in charge of classes made up of younger students.
It was harder for me to teach adults, since it was tough for me as a teenager to hold their respect. The kids were much better.
My favorite experience as an assistant instructor involved a Deaf student. He joined the class hesitantly, picking up that his parents weren’t sure if he would be able to participate successfully.
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To his credit, the main instructor was not hesitant but welcomed the boy as he would any other new student.
Of course the Deaf student struggled to understand and follow verbal instructions, but he was quick to pick up and follow what the other students were doing.
His deafness obviously didn’t affect his physical strength, stamina, or dexterity. He was able to perform the physical aspects of the class as well as any other student.
Participating in the class definitely seemed to increase his self-confidence. When he first joined, he rarely spoke out loud to the instructor or the other students.
After a few months, though, he was much more comfortable trying to communicate with us.
The breakthrough happened at school, however. He came to class one evening bursting with excitement. Earlier in the week, he had given an oral report to his history class.
He had done so well that he was selected to be among a group of students asked to give their reports again, this time in front of the entire school body and a selection of visiting VIPs.
This was already exciting for a boy who, not that long ago, hardly spoke out loud at all. But the real reason for his excitement was even bigger.
He had won an award that day for the quality of his presentation in front of the school. That day in class, he talked until I actually had to ask him to stop and pay attention to the instructor!
I couldn’t help but feel proud of my part in changing this boy’s life. He was like a completely different, happier, boy, than the one I had first met.
Deaf students can participate in physical education experiences like any other child. The self-esteem benefits alone are incredible, as the Deaf child sees that they are capable, just like any other child.