Recently, our administration challenged each division in our school to dig deep and reflect on our programs. “What makes your program unique? What do incoming parents, students and teachers need to know about physical education at our school?” While seemingly a daunting task, this charge helped us to reflect on why we teach and what we want our students to learn while at Trinity School.
THE WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE AND HOW OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION
The who, what, why, when, where, and how are the central questions answered in informational writing. How often do you simply ask your children, “how was your day?” The answer, “good”, smashed back into your court, an ace, as if to say, no further questions please. As Physical Educators, we cycle through a portion of your child’s day, and are here to answer some of the queries regarding that chapter.
In 1823, Round Hill School in North Hampton, MA was the first institution to integrate physical education into their curriculum. The focus was simple: gymnastics, hygiene, and care of the human body. In short, help individuals develop their minds and bodies. So, nearly 200 years later, though the discipline has evolved exponentially, and the goals for teachers and students are amplified; the moral mission for the Physical Education discipline at Trinity School is akin to that of the North Hampton maverick:
Instill a love of lifelong fitness, and mental fortitude in our students by keeping our curriculum current; develop lessons that are challenging, safe, and enjoyable; and build strength, balance, agility, body awareness, and self-confidence in our students.
THE CLASSROOM SETTING:
Sixth Grader, Emma passes the ball inbounds to John. He receives the pass and dribbles up the court as the rest of his team spreads out in formation underneath the hoop. The opposing team sets their defense, ready to stop the offensive threat. Dribbling, passing, shooting, defensive, and offensive strategies, spatial awareness, fitness, and communication are displayed. Each of these skills is necessary to make a basketball team successful, but they do not just magically appear in our students. They are learned and improved through years of intentional, deliberate PE lessons taught to the three-year-olds through 6th grade students.
To ensure our students are active for over 75% of the class period, we start with a posted instant activity (i.e.: choose a ball and shoot baskets within your shooting range). Next, we have the students work on their physical fitness, incorporating the equipment we used during the instant activity reducing transition time. Here, the students use their basketball while performing strength exercises, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. Finally, we move into individual, partner, and small group work.
WHO and WHY?
THE EDUCATORS AND THEIR GOALS:
As a physical education team, we know leading by example is paramount to a student’s learning. Therefore, it is extremely advantageous, and appropriate, we as teachers, each have a passion for fitness, take pride in living a healthy lifestyle, and enjoy sharing our own fitness experiences with our students. As continuous learners, the Trinity PE team is constantly seeking the latest pedagogical strategies to ensure we are enhancing the social, emotional and physical needs of our students. We take pride in learning about our student’s interests inside and outside of school. This helps to build rapport, relieve anxiety, and assist us in connecting life experiences to a given unit.
Back in 1823, there may not have been a running club in the morning to start the day, recess for unstructured play, or physical education classes full of colorful equipment, cooperative play, and high intensity interval training. However, the principle of positive physical and mental health served as the catalyst that led us to our world of physical education today. As physical educators, we are the student’s first mile on the road to life-long fitness, and hope the connection that exists between what we teach and what our students learn creates human beings that are healthy, strong, and self-assured.
Thank you to my friends and colleagues for helping with this post:
Brian Balocki – @brianbalocki
Jedd Austin – @jeddaustin
Laura English – @pecoachlaura
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