This week’s reading summary was particularly interesting to me – in modern society, so many things are taken for granted and normalized, that certain topics such as diversity can so easily be overlooked in the PE classroom. Notions such as “Bob can’t participate in class today because the activities involve running and he is in a wheelchair” or “Liam is a strong and healthy 17-year-old male Caucasian student, he should be on the football team” are so ingrained into our culture that we rarely stop and critically assess them.
I still remember experiences from school, when boys were expected to play soccer outside and girls were expected to participate in quiet activities, when a Sikh boy couldn’t participate in roller blading because the helmets didn’t fit over his turban, when a boy with a physical handicap never participated in our PE classes. I recall recognizing the injustice of the situations, but never stopping to think about or address the issues.
Throughout the week, diversity seemed to be a common discussion in our classes. Racism, gender biases, stereotyping – these are just a few of the epidemics that have taken over society. These epidemics are not spreading through loud or visible means however. They are silent killers, deeming us mute and seemingly ignorant of the discrimination and segregation happening all around us.
In all of our class discussions, the solution spiraled down to something fairly simple – awareness. Simply by speaking out loud about an issue, or educating people so they could learn more about something that was previously ambiguous, can bring topics out of the darkness and demystify and de-normalize them. Yesterday, Sheena did a wonderful job of leading our group discussion and helping us to identify what we should be aware of (in regards to diversity) as educators. I hope that as a cohort, we can continue to question and build on each other’s thoughts and ideas, and push each other forward on this amazing learning journey!
This was my first “practice teach”, and I must say it was a great learning experience. The first thing that struck me was the energy that was generated just by being outside – we were blessed with beautiful sunshine, the fresh air was invigorating, and Meghan’s enthusiasm was contagious! Even though our class was nothing fancy – we didn’t go on a paddleboarding field trip, or go on a hike up at Grouse Mountain – merely being outdoors had a positive impact on our physical and mental well-being.
One thing that I learned from this group teach was the importance of clear, written communication. I can be a bit of an “organization freak”, and throughout the process of planning our lesson, I color coded and made charts to my heart’s content. Our group discussed all of the logistics and felt ready to go. After the lesson however, Steve pointed something out that none of us realized – even though we had discussed and expressed everything in our group teach, not everything was documented in our lesson plan. We did not realize the importance of written communication – if “something” is not written down, those who were not part of our discussions would never know that that “something” ever existed. What if, as a future educator, I was sick and couldn’t deliver the lesson I had planned? What if I did not write my lesson plan clearly, resulting in making the life of my TOC extremely difficult? What if I did not outline the safety precautions properly on the field trip forms, and a student got hurt as a result? As professionals, we must remember that we are being held accountable for all of our actions, so we have to act as diligently and responsibly as we can!
Lastly, I want to take this time to thank the class for all of your enthusiasm and participation! Without it, our lesson would never have been able to take form. Thanks for giving us such a wonderful learning experience : )
The concept of TGfU was surprising to me – not because it was counter-intuitive, but because I felt that it was common sense! Play is something that comes naturally to children – it allows them to explore, to test their abilities, and to use their imagination. Children learn naturally through the process of play.
When Steve gave us the example of TGfU at the end of class, our group noticed something when we were playing the very first simple game (passing the ball to get it to the other side). We got bored fairly quickly, and started to wonder if we would be progressing to the next game anytime soon. By the time we got to the third game (trying to knock down the pin), it was complex enough to keep us excited and engaged. This made me think of what the situation would be like if it were applied to elementary aged children. From what I have observed in children, when they get bored they will invent new activities to entertain themselves. They practice problem solving skills without any prompts from their teachers!
TGfU ties in neatly with some of the IB principles. By starting with simple games and slowly progressing to increasingly complex games, students learn through scaffolding and critical thinking. Through each step of progression, students build on pre-existing knowledge and think critically about how to make the current game more fun and exciting. By adopting the concept of TGfU in teaching PE, we can encourage and motivate students to take initiative and ask critical questions to build on their own learning.
Throughout elementary school – as I mentioned in my previous post – PE felt like a class where the athletes got to show off their skills. Even though participation was encouraged, this was rarely implemented. The past two weeks in ECDP320 showed me that Physical Education CAN be fun, if the right goals are emphasized. The concept of physical literacy, which was new to me until this week, is very attractive. Even though it is still being slowly introduced into school curriculums today, I think the idea of learning how to be “active for life” is fantastic. I mean, in reality, how many people end up playing varsity sports?
My boyfriend, who used to play competitive baseball, was skeptical about this idea when I proudly presented it to him last week. If PE is made to be “fun” and “inclusive”, how would we be able to determine who excels at a certain sport, and can potentially build a career on it? For those who can’t afford to pay for extracurricular sports, how else would they discover and hone their talents? When he asked me all of these questions, I did not yet know how to answer them, and became worried myself. As an elementary school teacher we are expected to be generalists. Is it possible that we become “too general” in our journey to produce a “complete child” that we forgo more specific talents?
When Steve discussed Long Term Athlete Development today, I had a mini “aha!” moment. By specializing at too young an age, we risk the loss of a broader knowledge. An 80-year-old retired boxer probably won’t be boxing much to keep fit. If at an early age this retired boxer learned how to be physically literate, they may then look to activities such as hiking or golf (not trying to be stereotypical here) to stay active.
Being “active for life” should be the goal for everyone, whether they decide to become a professional athlete, or prefer to go on leisurely hikes every weekend. By encouraging the development of a diversity of skills, we are providing students with a better understanding of their body and what they are capable of achieving, and preparing them for a happier and healthier future. : )
The evening prior to our first class, I was very nervous. Having experienced mostly negative experiences in my childhood Physical Education (PE) classes, I was apprehensive about what this course would be like, and how I would be able to teach a class and make it exciting and fun for everyone.
The PE classes of my recollections involved a lot of standing in the sidelines during soccer games, and wishing that I wouldn’t be “saved” during dodgeball so I didn’t have to go back into the battle zone. Although teachers encouraged everyone to participate, children who were already good at whatever sport or game that was being played tended to take the spotlight, while the rest of the class stood by and watched.
I did not quite understand this problem until we discussed the article regarding primary school teachers not feeling qualified to teach PE. In my own conversation with a classmate, a multitude of reasons could contribute to this issue. Fitness and athletic abilities, as well as past experiences were brought up. Having never been exceptionally athletic, as well as experiencing the feeling of being left out, I was hesitant about my own ability to teach PE successfully. It then made sense that teachers with a similar background would feel unqualified to teach PE.
The views toward fitness and physical education are changing, however. Rather than being focused on “super stars” with skills that the majority of the population are not able to achieve, attention is being drawn to staying active through whatever means you are comfortable with. I hope that I will be able to create an environment that emphasizes the importance of staying active, rather than letting it become an exhibition of skills.