Category: Elementary School

Within this category, essays and articles focus on effectively teaching children in the pre-school and elementary grades. It’s a great place to find teaching tips and get advice from experienced practitioners.

A Letter to the Part of Me that Wants to Quit Teaching

Dear Quitting Self:

Excuse my blatant disregard for pleasantries, but let’s clear something up right away. The only reason you – my quitting self – even exists is because I love not only what I do, but the profession that allows me to do it. My passion for the profession and the kids I teach created the space in which you live.

I’ve learned that when you love something, when you have an intense emotional investment in something, when you truly care, there will always be ups and downs, great days and not-so-great days, moments of extreme joy and moments of pure frustration. The downs, the not-so-great days, and the frustrations are times that wake you up like the loudest, most annoying alarm clock ever invented. They make me question what I’m doing and whether it’s worth it. They create doubts. And although these doubts will probably always exist I’m ok with that. When I started my teaching career I knew it would be hard, really hard. What I did not know are some of the places those difficulties would grow from.

Are Physical Educators TRULY Including All Students?

Several years ago, I was in my school hallway on the way to my mailbox, and noticed a young elementary child walk past a new student.  This new student had Autism and was engaging in self-stimulatory behavior as he moved along the hallway. The younger child appeared confused, worried and concerned for the student with Autism .

My school had just created a self-contained class for students with disabilities.  Because this was early October, it was early enough in the school year that for many of our students, this type of behavior was their first exposure to students with Autism and other disabilities.

My perplexed student watched as the stimming continued. She later approached me and asked, “What’s wrong with the boy who was screaming in the hallway? Is he okay?” Her question was so enlightening to me in many different ways. For starters, the child was genuinely concerned about the student and didn’t seem to have any idea what Autism was.

Don Hellison: Celebrating A Life Well Lived

Many people know Don Hellison a heck of a lot better than me. But over the years our paths did cross a few times. And so, when I recently heard that Don, now aged 79, had suffered a stroke with some serious complications it got me thinking about him and the way he changed how physical education is taught today.

If you’ve been in the profession a while and taken your teaching seriously, the ‘Hellison’ name is already familiar to you. If you’re relatively new and graduated from a decent professional preparation program, while you may not recognize Don’s name you were almost certainly introduced to the idea that physical education can be an effective way to teach kids social skills and personal responsibility.

Don brought this thinking to the physical education world not by way of isolated ivory-towered theorizing, but through some tough real-world personal experience. Early in his career Don sought out the hardest inner-city teaching situations and toughest kids: Places and people that most of us would run from, not to. He dove in and together with his student-majors and graduate students tried to figure out how to improve these kids’ lives.

Student Learning in Physical Education: The Minimum Six

Overview

My grandkids have learned to read. They enjoy trying to solve math problems. But when I ask them what they have learned in physical education their answers are opaque. Mostly they tell me what they are doing in P.E.

In this short piece, I am suggesting that physical education teachers, and programs, should be able to describe at least some of what their students have actually learned in their classes. And the kids they are teaching should be able to show you what they have learned.

Physical education programs have a wide variability in the time allotted for classes, from a few days a year, to daily. Classes are also taught by specialists who have majored in physical education, and also by coaches and fitness specialists and classroom teachers.

Giving the Gift of Play

Earlier this year, many members of my school community felt the impact of President Donald Trump’s controversial Executive Order to temporarily ban travel to the U.S. by refugees and immigrants from some majority-Muslim countries. My school has a significant number of students who are either immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Just after the ban was announced, one of my colleagues attempted to start a donation drive for the International Institute of St. Louis (IISTL), St. Louis’ welcoming center for new Americans. Each year, IISTL provides services, such as education, refugee resettlement, employment, training, and immigration assistance to more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees from 80 different countries. IISTL also collects charitable donations to fulfill family wish lists for “basic” items, such as kitchen gadgets, cleaning products, personal items, school supplies, linens, and furniture. My colleague contacted IISTL and surprisingly, they turned her away. “We have great news,” they said, “Our shelves are full and we can’t accept anything at this time.”

Even though I knew the IISTL wasn’t accepting donations, I checked out the New American Wish List anyway. I saw mixing bowls and mops, toothpaste and toilet paper, clean dolls and children’s books, shower curtains and…soccer balls. Soccer balls?! “Surely the IISTL doesn’t have a lot of soccer balls,” I thought. “I know just the school to help them out!” I immediately emailed IISTL to introduce myself and explained that I teach physical education at a middle school that frequently collects items and donations for various organizations. I said I was aware they weren’t collecting anything but had a feeling they didn’t have many soccer balls on hand. A representative wrote back right away, saying, “Yes, we can always use soccer balls!”

GOPHER