#8 Professional Practice: 8.1 Participating in a Professional Community. Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation. This means that being a successful teacher is about more than just teaching kids. You have to be able to communicate and work well with the other teachers on your staff, especially the teachers in your department. Teachers need to work as a team, cooperating and supporting each other with items like curriculum, planning, students and parent communication.
In a physical education setting, this is especially true. In secondary schools, physical education teachers share the gyms, fields, courts, offices and locker rooms. If the teachers don’t cooperate and communicate with each other than this will cause all sorts of issues with class logistics and management and the student’s learning will suffer. There needs to be a set plan in place for the location of each teacher’s class and a plan for what equipment is being used by each different teacher, so there is no wasted instruction time.
In my student teaching, it was imperative that I developed good relationships and communication with the other two physical education teachers. One of the teachers only worked for two periods at the end of the day and the other teacher was very disorganized and did very little lesson planning. I also shared a small office with these two teachers. I was able to overcome any potential issues by being courteous, supportive and friendly. I went out of my way each day to talk with both teachers and I was able to develop a good relationship with both of them, which helped pave the way to a successful work environment. I was also able to learn several new effective teacher practices from these two teachers. If a team is effective, then people learn from each other. They accomplish far more than would be possible alone. They inspire and challenge each other (Aguilar, 2012).
In my first teaching job, one of the first things I will do is to try and build good relationships with the teachers that I work with and not isolate myself. I will learn about their communication styles, find ways to effectively communicate and plan with them, and go out of my way to be friendly, courteous and respectful.
Aguilar, E. (2012). Effective Teams: The Key to Transforming Schools? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-teams-transform-schools-elena-aguilar.
#4 Content Knowledge: 4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes. All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment. This means that at the beginning of each class the students will all know what the key learning goals are for each lesson. This also means that there will be a viable way for the teacher to assess which students have completed the learning goals for each lesson. It’s also important that the students be able to self-assess if they have completed the learning goals for each lesson. This will help the students more clearly understand what they are learning and it will give them ownership of their own learning.
In my physical education class, I found that the best way to accomplish this was to write a daily learning target on the class white board that was concise, written in student friendly language and was measurable. For example, the following is a learning target from one of my student teaching lessons in the Ultimate Frisbee unit:
- I can demonstrate to my partner the correct grip and form for a backhand throw.
- I will throw a Frisbee 10+ times with a partner.
The students did not have any problems understanding this learning target and it was very measurable. At the end of the class, I asked all the student to self-assess if they completed the learning target with a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down.” At the close of the lesson, asking students to reflect on or share their learning is critical. This lets you know if the students are really ready to move on from this target, or if some need reteaching or other learning opportunities (Templeton, 2014).
One step that I will take to improve my student’s understanding of the daily learning target is to have them discuss the learning target with their neighbor or in small groups after I introduce the learning target at the beginning of each class. This will help improve their understanding of the daily learning target, which will give them a greater chance of successfully completing the learning target.
Templeton, K. (2014, May). The Dos and Don’ts of Learning Targets. Retrieved from http://www.iwalkthrough.org/learning-targets/.
#2 Instruction: 2.1 Using questioning and discussion techniques. Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality and adequate time is provided for students to respond. This means that the teacher asks questions that are directly related to the learning segment. These questions should be planned and designed to actually help the students understand the topic and reinforce what the students will be learning in a particular lesson. The teacher also needs to allow enough time for the students to answer the questions in a meaningful manner and, more importantly, to make sure all the students understand the answer and can apply it to the learning segment. The teacher may have to call on multiple students to answer the questions and may also have to scaffold the student’s answers.
During my student teaching, I taught a unit on Ultimate Frisbee which included a lesson for a Frisbee game called Frisbee Four Score. After I introduced the game and reviewed the rules, I asked four different students four specific, focused questions about the game. These questions were designed to elicit student understanding of the game and also allowed me to determine if there was any confusion with the key rules to the game.
In previous lessons, I had asked the students more general, basic questions about the learning segment. These general questions were helpful, but I found the more specific, focused questions to be much more effective in helping the students with their learning and understanding of the lesson topic or skill. When used effectively, questioning techniques can be one of the most flexible and adaptive tools in a teacher’s arsenal (Marzano, 2007).
In my future lesson planning, I will continue to use questioning techniques in my learning segments. One change I will make, however, is to include more specific, focused questions about the learning topic or skill in my lessons.
Marzano, Robert J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching, Alexandria, Virginia: ACSD.
#5 Learning Environment: 5.3 Managing Classroom Procedures through Performance of Non-instructional Duties. Efficient systems for performing non-instructional duties are in place, resulting in minimal loss of instructional time. This means that non-instructional classroom procedures such as taking attendance or grading should minimally interfere with classroom instruction time.
In a secondary school physical education setting, there is already lost instructional time due to changing in the locker rooms. This makes it even more imperative for the teacher to have efficient classroom procedures in place for the rest of the class time. Having a set routine in place like student squad lines at the start of each class is an ideal way to minimize loss of instruction time.
From the first day of school, the teacher will instruct the students to start the beginning of each class in pre-arranged squad lines. The teacher has the students line-up in alphabetical order in rows of five or six students, which will help the teacher efficiently and quickly take attendance. The teacher will consistently communicate to the students that they need to begin their warm up routine while the teacher takes attendance for time efficiency. Roll taking is not the responsibility of the students, so do not take up class time with the process (Wong, 2009, p. 133). After the first week, the teacher could even come into the gym a few minutes late and the students all know that they should already be in their squad lines doing the warm-ups.
To ensure the students are doing the correct warm-ups, the teacher will spend time at the beginning of the year reviewing the proper form and technique for the warm-up exercises. In addition, the teacher will post an easily-visible sign with the warm-ups listed in proper order for a visual reference for the students to double check they are doing all the warm-up exercises and in the proper order.
This procedure gives the students shared control of certain aspects of their learning. It also helps maximize the efficiency of the student’s class time and helps ensure a positive, well-managed class environment. My next step is to continue researching and talking to current teachers about effective ways to minimize non-instruction time procedures.
Wong, K. and Wong, R. (2009), The First Days of School. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications
Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students
The focus of my reflection is on program standard 6.4: using assessment to provide feedback to students. This standard also states that teacher feedback to students is timely and of consistent high quality. The goal of this standard is to have planned, proven assessment methods that helps the teacher give growth-minded, meaningful feedback to the students. The teacher feedback should be a frequent part of the teacher’s lesson and it should be given to the student in a positive manner shortly after the student assessment to maximize student learning potential.
One feedback approach that is proven to be effective with students is called a “positive sandwich.” This is where a teacher gives a student something to work on, but keeps the student’s confidence level high by telling them a positive about what they are doing before and then after the feedback. Physical education teachers should give this type of feedback frequently when they are teaching kids how to perform a basic skill like dribbling a basketball or throwing a Frisbee. Frequent informal assessments throughout a physical education lesson are an important way to provide timely feedback to students, so they can work on the skill immediately. The longer the time between student work and feedback, the less effective it will be (Nolen and Taylor, 2008, p. 91).
(Power Point slide from EDU 6160 session 3 presentation.)
It’s important for physical education teachers to consider a growth mindset when providing feedback to students. Research has shown that ego involvement feedback is rarely effective and in many cases even detrimental. Teachers need to give feedback that helps a student move forward and lets them know that their ability is not fixed.
It’s also important for physical education teachers to make sure they are doing these assessments for all the students, especially for the non-athletic students. There will be many students that will have a difficult time with some of the fitness skills being taught. It’s extremely important to ensure these students do not get discouraged and understand that it’s the effort that is the key and that growth is possible.
My next step is to continue researching and talking to current teachers about effective, growth-minded assessment and teaching techniques for physical education fitness activities.
Bobbitt-Nolen, S and Taylor, C. (2008), Classroom Assessments. Upper Saddle River, N.J.:
Fostering an Inclusive Learning Environment
The focus of my reflection is on category five of the IPC Learning Environment, specifically on fostering an inclusive learning environment. This means teachers should strive to create a family-like atmosphere in their classroom that is conducive to learning and where all students are included and valued members.
A key way for teachers to establish this type of a classroom environment is simply by listening to their students. In the frequently chaotic physical education learning environment, it will be difficult at times for teachers to be able to listen to their students all the time. It is extremely important, however, for teachers to have good verbal and non-verbal listening skills with their students as often as possible. Too often, teachers don’t take the time to really listen to what the student is saying and the student will pick up on that and think the teacher does not care about them or think they are important. When teachers make concerted efforts to know their students as individuals, they are communicating to the students that they value their interests, cultures and life experiences (Bucalos and Lingo, 2005).
Fostering a positive teacher-student relationship is another key way for teachers to establish an inclusive, family-like classroom atmosphere. The below table (Bucalos and Lingo, 2005) lists many ways to do this.
Of the items listed in the above table, I will especially strive to work on the following three items with my students:
• Allow time during class for students to showcase their interests and talents.
• Make it a point to talk with students before and after class about their interests outside of school.
• Choose 3-5 different students per class each day to talk with informally. There will probably not be enough time to do this with that many students every day. A better goal would be 2-3 students per class per day.
Bucalos, A. and Lingo, A. (2005), What Kind of Managers do Adolescents Really Need?
Managing Adolescent Behavior.
Managing Classroom Procedures
The focus of my reflection is on category five of the IPC Learning Environment, specifically on the components of managing classroom procedures. The goal of these components is for teachers to establish an organized, structured classroom environment that encourages students to take responsibility for many aspects of their own learning.
In my Classroom Management class we learned the importance of procedures to establish an organized, structured classroom environment. Effective teachers implement a systematic approach toward classroom management with procedures at the beginning of the school year (Wong, 2009, p. 167).
In a physical education setting, the most important time to manage classroom procedures is at the beginning of the school year. It is essential to establish these non-instructional procedures immediately, so the students know the exact routines to ensure maximum class time efficiency. In my observations at Pine Lake Middle School, the entire first week was dedicated to class procedures, including:
- Expectations, guidelines and safety rules. The teacher reviews these thoroughly with the students and has them bring home a form to review with their parents, sign and turn back in.
- Locker room. This includes uniform policy, behavior rules and locker room in and out times so the students know they are responsible for the times they enter and leave the locker room.
- Squad lines. The students line up in the same spot every day to ensure there is enough spacing between students for correct and safe warm-ups. The teacher also sets up the squad lines in alphabetical order to maximize roll taking efficiency.
- Warm-ups. The students all know they have to start the warm-ups at a set time. The teacher could come a few minutes late and the students are already in their squad lines doing warm ups.
All of these procedures give the students shared control of certain aspects of their learning. This helps maximize the efficiency of the frequent transitions in a physical education setting and helps ensure a positive, well-managed class environment.
My next step is to continue researching and talking to current teachers about effective classroom management techniques for physical education fitness activities.
Wong, K. and Wong, R. (2009), The First Days of School. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong