September 14, 2017

Reforming Physical Education: What's Next

As I've become more active on Twitter, I'm learning that there are a lot of people out there asking the right questions, but not a ton of people wither have the answer or are willing to provide it. What sparked my interest most recently was a shared tweet from Adam Lleva {@MrAdamPE} regarding an article titled School PE is Part of the Childhood Obesity Problem by Niall Moyna. Naturally from the title of the article, I was immediately defensive. Here's another "expert" who knows nothing about what physical education actually is, how we teach it, or why what we do matters. Against my better judgment, and mainly because Adam shared it, I decided to give it a read anyway. I'm glad I did because it raised some very important questions that I think have realistic and attainable answers.

Did you read the article? It starts off identifying what those of us in the physical education realm already know - our students are not meeting minimum requirements of physical activity to maintain health. We can relate this to a few factors, but one that the author names directly seems to have had the greatest impact - increased screen time. He cites a study from Irish Life Health indicating that 98 percent of parents admitted to their children having daily screen time of some kind. While this is the only direct link Moyna discusses, there are many other contributing factors to the rise in childhood obesity, most directly their nutritional intake. Processed foods and fast food are dominating the menu of busy working families. Combine this downward trend in food quality to increased sedentary time and we've got a caloric balance issue that is impact millions of children every day.

So what is the authors call for change? Start with the schools and how we're educating our students on healthy habits. Where do these changes happen? Health and physical education. He makes an argument I can support fully, "If our children were leaving school unable to perform basic mathematics, we would examine the mathematics curriculum without delay. Why, when too many of our children are leaving school overweight, unfit, and destined for a life of ill-health, are we not challenging what they are being taught in PE?"

Niall, I've got a few of those answers to that question. First, it's a great question and the answers are going to be frustrating to read for those of us who know why reform needs to happen (and why it hasn't happened yet).

  1. Education and training for professionals in the field. Colleges and universities across the US are cutting their teacher training programs for health and physical education. Departments are closing and often being forced to move to smaller schools and communities. In Richmond, VA - Virginia Commonwealth closed their health and physical education training program simply because the department chair was retiring and they could find no one to fill it. Two years later, that same program is now up and running again thanks to some very passionate advisers and educators. Additionally, many professionals are trained to teach using the sports-based model. We love team sports, great! The switch, however, needs to be made to a skills-based model of teaching. Simply put, instead of teaching football for two weeks and limiting our students to one sport, one ball, and one version of a throwing mechanic, we should transition to a throwing unit where students can experience multiple games, sports, and activities using throwing technique. I'll be writing another blog post down the road about the benefits of the skill-based model so stay tuned! This is very simply put as the benefits of the skills-based model are enormous, but for the sake of this post, I'll leave it at that.
  2. School districts across the US are cutting physical education time or cutting programs all together. Most elementary students receive PE once a week and one 15-20 minute recess a day. Secondary students are mostly receiving physical education every other day, but wait... they also take health. Some schools function on a semester style system that has students in physical education for the one semester and health for another. Other schools function on a rotation schedule between health one week and physical education the next or a two week switching pattern. In my current school, sixth and seventh grade students have HPE every other day for 90 minutes, but every two weeks they are in health for those 90 minute class periods. We know that our health curriculum is just as important as our physical education curriculum... do you see the conundrum yet? Many teachers, especially at the elementary level, have adapted to teaching health concepts with physical education concepts in the gym. I have seen brilliant methods designed by educators who smoothly convince third graders that their soccer balls are red blood cells moving through their veins and arteries, while the playground balls are white blood cells that defend the body from diseases, while the taggers are viruses trying to infiltrate the body. Brilliant, right? Sadly, not all educators are this creative. More educators need to invest in professional development opportunities, but that's easier said than done given how expensive conferences can be, especially if you have children of your own. Reforming the curriculum is a great idea, but what good does it do if programs are continuing to be cut?
  3. Programs are being cut for many reasons and I believe that people don't know exactly what we do as physical educators. The most important question I have is this... How can we convince districts to invest the man power and money needed to have proper curriculum reform when we can't get them to respect what we teach? Secondly, once we've convinced our districts to change, how can we then move reform up to the state level? These are the tough questions and the only answer I have is advocacy. We have to be advocates for what we teach every single day, in every single class, outside of school, when communicating with parents, when interacting with other educators, when interacting with peers... I could make this list go on endlessly. We have to advocate our purpose and why our subject is valuable 24/7. We have to stop tying in why we're valuable to other subjects while we're at it. Do you think math teachers justify their importance by how their subject helps English? No! So why are we!? Yes, increased physical activity improves academic performance, but that one fact does not define our purpose or what we do! Physical education and health education are important subjects on their own. We don't need to justify what we do by how it impacts other subjects. I bought into the idea for the longest time that the impact physical activity has on academic performance was the game changer in justifying physical education in schools. I listened to a life changing speech at the Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance in November 2016 by the keynote speaker, Dr. John Almarode, from James Madison University. My favorite quote from the amazing keynote was something to the effect of, "Why are you saying that your class benefits students in math? What if they have a bad math teacher? Do you want to be responsible for that outcome?" MIND BLOWN. Of course I don't want to be responsible for that. He then talked to us about how to appropriately advocate for what we do because what we do is valuable. We have some of the biggest impact on students life outcomes. Health and wellness is knowledge they will need for the rest of their lives. What we do matters and we can get people to listen to us and invest in us by advocating appropriately.
  4. We have little to no control over what our students do outside of school. This is the primary factor as to why physical education, no matter how amazing, simply will never be enough to end childhood obesity. We can't control what our students parents allow them to do outside of school. We can teach them to be competent in every activity known to man, we can teach them how to eat well, we can teach them life skills, we can teach them until we are blue in the face... But until parents and families decide to make changes in their lifestyles, habits won't change. I can get a kid moving for 90 minutes every other day. I can't change the fact that when the same child goes home, he's allowed to eat whatever junk food he wants while he sits and plays video games all night. We've all heard the colloquial phrase, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." If mom and dad are still feeding them pizza every night or stopping at McDonald's four times a week, I can't fix that. I had a student once who brought 24 chicken wings for lunch every single day. When it came time for PE, he wanted to move, he wanted to play! He was a great kid and the type of student who was willing to try anything, but he could not overcome his diet and his lifestyle at home. Nothing I did could possible change that. It's an issue with the way society and culture have changed. Despite this inhibiting factor, you can bet that I will keep teaching until I'm blue in the face because hopefully one day, enough of these students will have learned the right way to be active and the right way to eat and there will be a cultural shift. That is the ultimate goal!
I am very fortunate to teach in Virginia. We have some of the best schools in the country and our learning standards (known as SOLs) are better than most. I'm also fortunate to be part of the curriculum team for my county. Is our curriculum perfect? Of course not, but it's definitely better than it was two years ago! Even if the curriculum wasn't perfect, there are always going to be educators (in any subject area) who intentionally or unintentionally don't follow the curriculum. Some of our own are perpetuating the "old PE" methodology in class and it hurts those of us attempting to move the profession forward.

Many counties throughout the country struggle with change. Prior to teaching in my home state, I taught in North Carolina for two years where the standards were very different. Thankfully, due to working for a charter school, I was able to have some flexibility in what I was teaching. Being a first year teacher, I had the opportunity to create my own curriculum for both health and physical education. I had an executive director who went to school for health and physical education and was incredibly supportive of my program. Small town politics got in the way and when he left, the new director did not hold the same value for health and PE. Our program suffered and I began hitting a constant wall of "No's" for things as simple as consistently teaching a health curriculum that had been previously approved.

While I agree with what the author, Niall, is saying, I don't think curriculum reform is the only piece to the puzzle. In fact, I think there are many other obstacles that need to be tackled in order to make solid, attainable curriculum reform possible. As physical educators, we can be the vehicles of the change we wish to see. The road won't be easy and it won't be pretty, but think of the change we could make if we try? In order to see these goals come to fruition, we have to start giving our all to our programs.

What to hear more? Join the discussion on Twitter @jessbaylissPE

January 24, 2017

Brain Breaks Breakdown!

It is that time of year again! Whether you’re in elementary, middle, or high school, students are spending more time inside and less time moving. In elementary school, a lot of students are missing outdoor recess due to cold temperatures or bad weather. Middle and high school students often feel sluggish or tried from lack of sleep and less movement throughout their day. We as educators can do something about this by incorporating brain breaks into our classrooms!

     Brain breaks are kind of my thing. I have worked as a summer camp counselor or director for seven summers after attending camps as a child for 10 years. I teach physical education and I coach… I HAVE A TON OF BRAIN BREAK MATERIAL.

     Before we dive in I have what I believe is an important question… WHY do teachers think brain breaks will only benefit elementary students?! Do not get me wrong, brain breaks are perfect for elementary students, but they are just as beneficial for middle and high school students! I am a middle school educator myself and when I’m in a 90 minute health class, I try to incorporate at least three five minute brain breaks. My students tell me all the time how much they enjoy them and how their other teachers don’t perform them. Middle school teachers listen up, YOUR STUDENTS WANT BRAIN BREAKS.

Let’s get started with some of my favorite web-based brain breaks! Some of these are pretty standard, especially at the elementary level, but you can incorporate them into middle school too.


  1. Go Noodle – My adapted PE students LOVE using this website. They have so much variety! This is also a huge hit with many of my elementary teacher friends. It offers guided dance, sing-a-long, fitness, sport skills review, silly random videos, and so much more!
  2. Brain Pop – When limited on space due to larger class sizes or being crammed into a space that doesn't allow for a ton of movement, Brain Pop is a great review tool and helps kids have fun while learning. While not a true brain break, it does still offer many tools that make students feel like they're taking a breather.
  3. Just Dance YouTube Chanel – I was surprised to learn that middle school students can still love Just Dance! They love requesting songs, getting up and moving, while singing along. I have had this work really well in sixth grade, while seventh is hit or miss, and eighth graders are typically past it.
Let's get into the fun part... Brain Break ideas to implement in your classroom! Below is a detailed list of brain breaks I use (and my students love) on a regular basis {in middle school}:

  1. Yoga – What I love about yoga as a brain break is the calming effect it has on students, while challenging them to build strength in different poses. While this isn't a huge movement activity, it helps students refocus to improve classroom work and effectiveness. Being a Pinterest queen, there is an excellent resource here on yoga poses for younger students. Middle and high schools students can easily perform more advanced yoga poses which can be found here.
  2. Meet Me in the Middle  – Have students pair up with a partner and stand on opposite sides of the room. Call out an activity to do (i.e. meet in the middle and give your partner a high five with your right hand). Students walk to the center and meet their partner to do the activity. After completing the activity, students turn and walk back to their original places. Add one activity each round. {For example: 1st time – meet partner in the middle and do a right-handed high five. 2nd time – right-handed high five, add left-handed high five. 3rd time – right-handed high five, left-handed high five, call out favorite physical activity}. Adjust this activity to fit your needs and what your students enjoy. I will often add things like, "meet in the middle and perform five body squats" to make the activity more challenging.
  3. 10 Second Fitness  –  Students pair up with a partner and perform the teacher-designated fitness activity (see examples below) for 10 seconds. As one student performs the activity, the other partner counts the number of repetitions. The students switch, and partner two does the activity. Ask students to do the activity as quickly as they can. Exercise examples include:

              Forward straddle jump
              Side straddle jump
              Side jumps
              Front and back jumps
              Right foot jump
              Left foot jump
              Scissor jump
              Alternating Lunges
              Body Squats
  4. Group Juggle  –  Students should group up in table groups of 4-5 members and each group should have a small ball or object to throw and catch. On the signal, groups must work together to pass the ball to every member of their group without repeating. Once they complete the task, they should jump up and say "finished." Alternate this activity by having groups throw in the same pattern backwards, repeat the forward pattern for time, add a second object to throw, etc.
  5. Trainwreck  –  Have the entire class sit in a circle with one student in the middle. The student in the middle can either say a fun fact about themselves or a fun fact they learned in class. Students who agree or like the same thing will stand up and find a new place to sit. They cannot move directly next to their current seat or return to the same seat. The last student left is the new middle man. Repeat rounds as needed.
  6. Hot Tamale  –  One student exits the classroom. The rest of the class watches the teacher hide the “hot tamale” (can be any object) somewhere in the classroom. The student who exited the classroom re-enters. The rest of the class tries to guide him or her to the hidden tamale by performing various physical activities {listed below}, with each activity corresponding to a different direction. Students are not allowed to talk. Once the student locates the hidden “hot tamale,” another student is selected to exit the classroom, and the “hot tamale” is hidden in another location so that the game can be repeated.

    Write the following motions on the board for all students to see:
              Move backwards - back stroke (swimming motion)
              Move forward - march in place
              Move to either side - side stretch in the direction of the hot tamale
              Up higher - climbing ladder motion
              Down lower - squats
              Within 1 foot of the tamale - students pretend they are stepping on hot coals (in place) 
These examples are just a few of the brain breaks I have done with middle school students and they are also some of their favorites as well! Brain breaks don't have to be limited to elementary students. Many middle schools and most high schools operate on block schedules that keep kids in one class for a longer period of time. Taking five to 10 minutes out of our class period to get them moving and refocused will help us as educators in the long run with behavior management and it will help students be more focused and attentive. 

Do you have any go-to brain breaks that you use in your classroom!? Share your ideas in the comment section below!

January 17, 2017

Valentine's Link Up: All Subjects Welcome!

I'm not sure about y'all, but this school year is flying by! I cannot believe we are less than a month away from celebrating Valentine's Day! After a successful Christmas product link up, I want to continue the trend this week by hosting my second link up with a Valentine's Day product theme!

All you have to do is find your favorite Valentine's Day products, copy the link to your store, and share below! Share as many links as you'd like, but I humbly ask that you share at least one freebie so we can promote our stores while saving other teachers some green.

Please feel free to share my blog link with other TpT sellers or teachers who are looking for awesome Valentine's Day classroom resources! I hope each of you find resources you can utilize in your classrooms! You can follow me on twitter and instagram @sassypeteach for my latest product updates! You can also check out my store in the top banner for some awesome Valentine's Day resources (with more coming soon)! Have an amazing week teacher friends!

January 10, 2017

How to Teach a Middle School Bowling Unit

Bowling is an excellent indoor recreation sport that allows students to learn more about skill-related fitness components, as well as etiquette, sportsmanship, and cooperative skills! There is no better time to teach bowling than right now in the cold of winter. Your classes are already indoors and in most cases, you're forced to combine with other classes due to limited space. Bowling is a wonderful sport that can accommodate each of these circumstances while still getting students moving and grooving! So if you're looking for advice on how to start your own bowling unit or if you're looking for new ideas to spice up your existing unit, then keep reading! If you're looking for an awesome freebie, you'll find access to my manual scoring assessment at the end of this post!

Before Getting Started:

It's important to analyze your equipment and potential equipment needs before beginning any unit in your classroom. It's also essential to be creative, especially if you don't have "real" bowling equipment. My school is very fortunate to have access to authentic bowling pins for 10 lanes, 10 rubber or plastic bowling balls {I do not recommend purchasing plastic bowling balls - more on that later}, and mats that act as bumpers at the far end of each lane. Your school may not have this equipment (and I've been there before) so you may need to be more creative.

If you have bowling equipment already, fantastic! If you don't currently have bowling equipment, but you have the resources to purchase equipment, here are my top recommendations for bowling equipment:

Pins:

Balls:
Complete Sets:
You can certainly find cheaper options, but what I love about Gopher is their lifetime replacement guarantee. When an item breaks or wears down, they will replace it, no questions asked. My department chair and I do this frequently. Flag House also has the widest variety of options.

I'm sure some of you are looking at these prices and thinking, "Wow, these all look great, but I simply don't have the budget to purchase these items!" You're in luck because there are a ton of items you probably already have in your storage closet that can be just as effective!

Courtesy of Pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/285204588875182233/
Creative Pin Suggestions:
  • Empty 2-Liter Bottles
  • Paper Towel Rolls (glue three together to help them stand better)
  • PVC Pipe (cut in 10-15 inch lengths)
  • Wide Pool Noodles (cut in 10-15 inch lengths)

Courtesy of S&S Worldwide
www.ssww.com



Creative Ball Suggestions:
  • Traditional Foam Balls (best suggestion)
  • Soccer Balls (size four works best)
  • Basketball (not ideal as they can be too big for students hands)
Setting Up Your Bowling Unit:

This will vary based on your school, your PE/Health rotations and other factors, but my department works in a two week block schedule format. This allows me to teach five 90-minute lessons during each PE rotation. I breakdown my skill development into each of the five days:
  • Day 1: Introduction to Basic Skills & Vocabulary, Peer Evaluation
  • Day 2: Review Basic Skills, Station Skills, Self-Assessment
  • Day 3: Station Skills, Introduce Manual Scoring, Peer Assessment
  • Day 4: Traditional Bowling, Manual Scoring Skills, Self-Assessment
  • Day 5: Summative Skill Assessment, Summative Manual Scoring Assessment

In my 90-minute class periods, I eliminate 14-20 total minutes (before and after class) for changing and instant activity (before class only). I also include a 10-20 minute fitness activity before getting into the main topic, in this case bowling, which gives me about 50 minutes to teach content. You can easily manipulate these times to work with your own schedule. At my former school, I had 50 minute class periods. I eliminated 12 minutes for students to change (includes before class - 6 min - and after class - 6 min) and that left approximately 38 minutes for content. If your schedule is closer to this time frame, I eliminate a fitness activity when bowling because it requires so much setup throughout the activity. 

Day One | Introduction to Basic Skills

I focus on ball grip and a three step approach during day one. Educators differ on the type of approach taught, but as long as students are releasing the ball with the opposite (or non-dominant) foot in front, the number of steps in the approach can vary. After brief instruction and demonstration, I break students into groups of four.

To the left is the setup I use in my own classroom. We have 10 lanes set up in our gym with four students at each lane. Two students begin at the top of the lane as the bowlers, while the other two begin at the bottom of the lane . (1) Bowler one rolls their first bowl, with bower two providing verbal feedback on hand grip and three step approach. (2) The two team members on the bottom of the lane, move pins that have been knocked over to the side. (3) Bowler one then bowls their second ball, with bowler two again providing verbal feedback. (4) The two team members reset the pins so all ten are standing. (5) Bowler two now takes their turn, with all other steps repeating. (6) Once bowler two has finished, they move to the bottom of the lane for pin setup, while the previous team members move to the top of the lane to bowl their turns.

As the instructor, I am moving around with each group to fix form, provide formative feedback, and check for understanding. If I see a pattern of errors or misunderstanding, I will stop the group, briefly explain the issue, get them working again, and then go back to working with students one on one. 

I also have a peer evaluation form. Each student fills out a form about the partner they observed bowling with helpful, respectful, and constructive feedback.

Day Two | Review Basic Skills, Station Skills, Self-Assessment

Prior to class, I would have reviewed peer feedback. After my students have completed the instant activity and fitness activity for the day, I quickly review and demonstrate the basic skill learned in day one and hand back their peer feedback from the previous class. On day two, I add station task cards to each lane. Students work through various setups throughout class and track their progress. For example, a station task card looks like:










Each student is given a worksheet to track which stations they have visited and how they did. Students think it's fun to work on different shots. This worksheet becomes their self-assessment later on when they review it before turn in. I grade the sheet for completion, provide feedback, and give it back during the next class period.

Day 3 | Station Skills, Introduce Manual Scoring, Peer Assessment

Students continue to work on stations, often returning to station they've struggled with. There is a station for every group and the general rule is that if a station is occupied, they must select another station. This is also the day I introduce manual scoring. Students often have no idea how scoring in this sport works because they've never had to track it themselves. I start by teaching basic frames and continuous scoring.


Introducing spares and strikes is often a skill I wait to introduce until seventh or eighth grade, but only you know your classes! If you think they can take those skills on sooner, I have this visual to assist students with understanding them.


Day 4 | Traditional Bowling, Manual Scoring Skills, Self-Assessment

On day four of my bowling unit, I take away the stations and let students practice their new skills in a traditional bowling environment. Students also keep track of their own scores and apply their scoring knowledge in a formative setting. 

My role on day three is to facilitate feedback, assist with scoring, provide opportunities to challenge students, and collect/review bowling score cards. I print my scorecards from Print Your Brackets. They are easy to print and perfect for classroom use!

Day 5 | Summative Skill Assessment, Summative Manual Scoring Assessment

Day five is assessment day and I have been notifying my students about this every day leading up to it. My assessment style is informative and, in my opinion, always students to test in a comfortable environment without fear of making mistakes. 

Skill Assessment: I allow students to pick their own groups and lane. I move to the students lane, inform them that I will be assessing their next bowl, notify them what I am looking for, and allow them two opportunities to find success. I place my criteria on an Excel Spread sheet with each students name pre-entered and fill in their results as I record them. I assess with a simple yes or no system. The individual skill is either present or not. If the skill is present, it is marked with a Y and if it is not present or incomplete, it is marked with a N.

Scoring Assessment: Students complete a pre-filled scoring sheet for four bowlers. I give my students the option on which scores they would like to tally. For example, in my assessment, I ask students to complete two of the four scores. They must score Corey or Emily as one of the two options and Michael or Patricia as the second option.

I also tell my students that if they want to work through all four, I will count their best two. I award one point per frame. I also grade based off the individual frames. 

For example, if a student is working on Corey and scores 9 on frame one (correct), 19 on frame two (incorrect), and 27 on the third frame (half correct), they would earn two total points. They answered frame one correctly (+1), but answered frame two incorrectly (+0). They technically answered frame three correctly as the frame score is 8, but now they've based it off their incorrect score in frame two. They receive a point because they scored that frame correctly. You can access a copy of my scoring assessment and answer key for free in my store! While you're there you can also see my Bowling Classroom Newsletter to help keep parents updated on the latest class events!

And there you have it! This is how I like to run my own middle school bowling unit. Tell me what you think or show me how you run your own bowling unit! I love to see how other physical educators are teaching in their classrooms. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail at sassypeteach@gmail.com! Also be sure to follow me on twitter and instagram @sassypeteach as I'll be teaching my bowling unit over the next two weeks!

January 3, 2017

Athlete-Centered Coaching & Why It Matters for Our Student Athletes

Anyone who knows my educational background knows that I attended the University of Virginia for my graduate degree. While I was there I had the opportunity to meet many intelligent and talented individuals. I'm thankful to consider Marshall Milbrath a colleague, as well as a friend, and his latest research piece really spoke to me on multiple levels. In education, we hear about student-centered classrooms all the time. Many educators, especially at the middle and high school level, dedicate their after school time to impacting students in athletics as coaches. Too often I see this idea of student-based instruction and learning fade to the background when transitioning to the athletic field, but why? We know students are more engaged, enticed, and willing to learn when they have control of that learning, so why are we abandoning it on the sports field, especially when research is leading us to the same conclusion?
While it has been suggested that research must continue to develop a working definition of athlete-centered coaching, common methods recognized as athlete-centered practices have been identified. This review describes some of these approaches taking into account scientific findings from a multitude of sports contexts, rationales for why these should be considered by the track coach in her or his practice, and recommendations for its implementation.  - Milbrath (2017). 
If you really want to dive into the research behind athlete-centered coaching, I highly recommend reading Marshall's article (linked above), but for this post I want to talk about real athlete-centered strategies that middle and high school coaches can implement right now. Before we get there, it's important to understand what athlete-centered coaching is and Marshall summed it up like this, "The athlete-centered approach breaks away from negative articulations in coaching, while reducing the prevalence of autocratic, “win-at-all cost” mentalities common in many sporting contexts. Athlete-centered coaching adopts an attitude of facilitation and teaching. By focusing on teaching the mind, body, and spirit of the athlete, humanistic needs are fulfilled and athletes are empowered."

So how can we adjust our coaching styles to better our athletes in an athlete-centered environment right now?

  1. Understand Your Audience: Our athletes, their goals, the team atmosphere, and so many other factors change every year. If we want our approach to be athlete-centered, we have to adapt how we lead our team each year. Even if our team has many returning players, those few loses or new additions make it a completely different team. This leads into...

  2. Get to Know Your Athletes: Even at the middle school level, I use a short and simple personality test with each of my athletes. This accomplishes two major tasks, I get to know them and they get to know themselves. When athletes are more self-aware of their behaviors and goals, they can better advocate to us what they need. In the same token, it allows us as coaches to identify their strengths and weaknesses more efficiently, while gaining a better understanding of their learning styles.

  3. Be Purposeful: Every coaching decision you make in practice or in a game should be made with a specific purpose. This sounds like common sense, but I'm not just referring to decisions based on strategy and how to win games. Being purposeful in athlete-centered coaching is understanding the implications that decisions have on athletes and their mental, physical, and social well-being. 

  4. Create a Team Philosophy: A philosophy is more than just a simple mission statement or expectations list for players. A philosophy tells your athletes, parents, and administration why your team has value. You can find an awesome sample list of coaching philosophies here. You can also find a wonderful article with advice on how to create your own unique coaching philosophy here.

  5. Set Goals: Perform this task on your own prior to the season and then sit down with your athletes to have them set their own. Be sure all goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). Check in during set time frames to see how athletes are achieving goals and coach them through setbacks. 
As we enter the spring coaching season, make small steps to move toward an athlete-centered mindset. You won't change your coaching style immediately, but small changes can have a large impact over time. 

December 27, 2016

New Years Resolutions: How Do We Get Students to Buy In?

Christmas is over and most people are setting their sights on the future and that means New Year's Resolutions! We all know how hard it can be to stick to a resolution as adults so how on earth are we supposed to get our students to buy into goal setting and a fresh start!? Let's start with what we know and then come with a solution to the problem.

Keep in mind I am approaching this from a health and phys. ed perspective, but there ideas and guidelines can apply to many aspect of the educational experience.

 According to Forbes, it's estimated that more than 40 percent of Americans make some sort of New Year's Resolution annually. Of those resolutions, the top ten include three major health goals; losing weight (1), staying fit and healthy (5), and quitting smoking (7). In reality, it's estimated that only eight percent of individuals actually succeed in meeting their resolutions. We as educators may fall into this conundrum ourselves! So how do we set a good example for our students?


Keep It Simple. Too often, our resolutions involve a complete makeover of some aspect of our lives and too much change at one time is difficult to maintain. This is even more important for our students! When we talk to them about New Year's Resolutions and setting appropriate fitness goals, we also have to talk about what makes goals appropriate and attainable. Starting off with a goal of going to the gym for an hour everyday to improve muscular strength and endurance will not be attainable and sets the student up to fail. Instead, break the goal down and determine how often a student can realistically get to gym, how much time they can spend there, and what knowledge they have of weight training to successfully complete a workout. Ensure they take their goals home to discuss with a parent! Parental involvement is key for our students to succeed in any classroom, but especially when we look at impacting their lives outside of the classroom.

The Bottom Line... Keep goals simple to start and add on to them later once the simple goals have been met.

Develop a Plan Generic goals often fail because there is no specific criteria to hold us accountable. "I want to lose weight" or "I want to improve my cardiovascular endurance" are not sufficient resolutions because it provides no details in how to obtain them. It is critical to talk to students about SMART Goals (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). Developing a plan to match your goal will help you stay motivated and hold you accountable. Help students develop plans in class to help obtain their goals. Provide feedback and suggestions before sending it home to show parents.

The Bottom Line... S.M.A.R.T guidelines for goal setting will help students develop a plan to increase their likelihood of success.

Check In Often. When students know that you have a vested interest in their goals and what they are trying to accomplish, they're more motivated to succeed. Schedule weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly check-ins to see how students are doing. This is an excellent opportunity to provide feedback, support, advice, modify goals, and to celebrate their accomplishments! You can even make up your own classroom achievement award to give to students who meet their resolutions.

The Bottom Line... Be there as a support for your students and celebrate their accomplishments!

Be a Role Model.The best way to motivate students is to show them how you're working on accomplishing your own resolutions. So long as you feel comfortable, share what your resolutions are with your students, check-in with them, and ask them to help reach your goals. I am only in my fourth year of teaching, but I have found that being honest and appropriately open with my students helps them feel safer in my classroom and more willing to share their own experiences. Goal setting and New Year's Resolutions provide the perfect opportunity to collaborate with students to reach common goals.

The Bottom Line... Be the example for your students.

No matter what resolutions you and your students may be embarking on for 2017, remember to follow this simple advice. Resolutions don't have to be overwhelming if they're thought out, organized, and attainable. Remember to go over SMART Goals with your students and check-in often. Many blessings to each of you as we enter 2017!

December 19, 2016

Teachers Pay Teachers Holiday Linky Party!

To quote one of my favorite holiday films, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" Clearly Buddy the Elf wasn't a Teachers Pay Teachers seller because we all know the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by sharing resources for all to hear (er, see).

With that being said, let's get right to the main event. I am launching my first {ever} Linky Party! I have participated in many amazing Linky's in the past and I'm thrilled to be able to host my first one with you all.

For this linky I am asking all participants to post one FREE holiday themed resource and one PAID holiday themed resource. They can be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or general winter themed. Once you have posted your two links, I humbly ask you to share this post with friends, fellow teachers, and other Teacher Pay Teachers sellers! A special thank you to Ashley Hughes for the border frame and clip art used for the graphic on this post.

If you would like to make this Link Up extra special, I ask you to choose one of the following causes {or a cause of your own} to donate to when you download a free resource. Each of these causes has a special place in my heart!


Let's get this Linky Started!