Friday, December 11, 2009

Life after Education Psychology

Writing about my time observing has made really see that my experience observing was beneficial. It allowed me to see how a physical education department works, and how they write their tests, or plan their lessons. It allowed me to talk to professionals in my desired field and gain some valuable tips and advice from those that have experienced it firsthand. The advice wasn't always teaching related, but tips on the admin side of teaching too.

I was very thankful for my observation placement; the teachers were very welcoming and very willing to help me along my path to becoming a teacher too. It was a good experience for me because when it comes time for me to allow a student in to my class to observe, I will have my positive experience to recall upon and hopefully pay it forward to the next generations of Physical Educators.

Extra Curricular activities

Before each gym class a teacher would announce the sports teams that would be playing that day, and then tell everyone which clubs were running after school etc. I really liked this. It gave the class a small moment of community, especially the sports teams. As soon as they would mention who was playing who, students would turn to those students who were in that particular team and wish them "good luck".

The after school clubs were great too, it gave kids time to just play. Not enough time is given to kids to just play during gym class, and when they get home. This small but fun hour and 15 mins was a time for friends to get together, and for students to actually choose the sport they wanted to participate in like, ultimate Frisbee, touch football, soccer, field hockey, hiking club, and many more. It let the student decide and it was good to see a large number of participants. Can I create an atmosphere like that in my Phys Ed classes? I hope so, nothing wrong with aiming high.

Teaching styles

My observation let me see how a group of 4 teachers worked very well together. It showed me how each of their own styles/methods of teaching worked in the grand old scheme of things. They had their own methods, and the other teachers would respect that when a disciplinary method was being exercised. There was no undermining going on, and it seemed as if this small team of Physical Educators was working in a very efficient manner.

There was a teacher who emphasized safety and rules, not just in the gymnasium, but outside while doing sports too. This was their main focus and it seemed as if this carried on throughout the different units. Another teacher was all about getting everyone to participate in an even manner. This was great to see, their enthusiasms alone made me want to join in and play too. There was a teacher, who would allow a little more leniency than the others, but they had been there the longest and therefore he had a lot of respect as some of the parents had even had them as a teacher. The last teacher had a combination of leniency with strictness, which he used when the class thought they could get away with more than they should be.

It seemed as if all bases were covered and that the students would be subjected to many different teaching experiences.

Participation Grade

Back home in England we had to wear uniform to school, yes even with public schools. Gym class also had a uniform, and if you forgot it, you had to have a good reason or a note from your parents as to why. Usually this meant that you would have to spend the class either sitting out or watching everyone else, or in some severe cases it meant litter duty with the groundskeeper. It sounds harsh, but it was mainly for the repeat offenders.

While observing the obvious difference was the lack of uniforms. Everyone dressed in their own individual way. When it came to gym class, students were encouraged to bring gym clothing with proper footwear. This was sent out in letters home to parents and it was part of a contract they signed off on before the school year started. However this was not to be the case. While observing I saw many students never change, and sometimes even wear flip flops. Usually these students didn’t want to participate that day, and upon first offense, the students were given warnings of losing points in their participation grade, but it was never seen to full fruition.

How do we get those who do not wish to participate, to participate? Obviously the threat of losing points for your final grade in gym doesn’t bother the students. How much does the gym grade weigh in terms of final grades?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Test time

Today each class had an end of unit exam. It was worth 100 points, and it was to test their knowledge on the particular unit of gym that they had been working on. Each teacher would rotate between the 4 sports they would use that half of the year. Those sports were soccer, football, field hockey, and lacrosse.

Each exam was usually consisting of true/false, matching, and multiple choice. The questions would only touch on maybe the first 3 areas of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which was Knowledge, Comprehension, and Application. These questions were easy, and for the most part it was an easy grade, provided the student actually tried to understand the rules and knowledge on each sporting unit.

On my first day of observation I found it odd that these students were going to have an exam and that the teachers were practically telling their students, that “this will be on the test”. One big question I had was, are they teaching to the test? Or were they testing their teachings? It was hard to see, but still to my surprise, there were still students who were getting 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s on these tests.

42 minutes, that’s all they get for gym??

When I was at the age of most of the students I have been observing, I couldn’t wait for gym. Although my experience was somewhat different, I always felt it was an easy subject, because it was fun to get outside and play all these different sports. Now I know there’s a reason as to why Gym is 42 minutes long, but it seems as if it’s not going to stop there. Is gym not considered to be an important area anymore? Almost a third of America’s children are obese. I know gym class alone cannot reverse this epidemic, but it’s probably many students only real time when their heart rate is above resting.

42 minutes flies by, before you know it, you’re back indoors and the next class is in. Every new class has to get changed and then sit in their groups and wait for them to be check in for attendance, and then wait for any announcements to be made. After all is said and done, as a teacher you’d be lucky to get in 30 minutes of activity. I know other subject areas get cut back too, but at what point will it stop. Is 35 minutes enough to get students to learn? Maybe we are overloading them now with 42 minutes?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Clique.......

Only from watching movies have I ever thought that cliques actually existed, but in reality they actually do, just not to the same extreme and scale as you may see in the movies. My main issue was that the majority of the time it was a group of female students who decided that gym class was a time for them to catch up on any latest social issues, gossip, and maybe some fashion tips thrown in there too. As a teacher I wouldn’t be able to stand by and let this happen. I felt that allow this behavior to happen, did nothing but strengthen and reinforce their negative behaviors. It was not a good message to be sending out to younger grades who may have been sharing the gym space, or playing field.

As an educator I will undoubtedly encounter apathy, but I will hopefully equip myself with the right means and methods in combating negative behaviors. Throughout my time coaching soccer, I have seen many ways in which students try to get out of doing work, and hopefully with that, I have also built up a good repertoire of skills/methods to stop them from affecting my teaching.