Thursday, December 15, 2011

Philosophy of Education

Philosophy of Education
Education is a very crucial part of society.  In this country we are extremely fortunate to receive an education, not to mention- a good education.  As someone who strongly believes in the pragmatic approach to the philosophy of education, I believe that the emphasis should be on the development of the whole person.  I believe that education today accomplishes just that- the development of the mind, body, and soul.  The difficult standards that are set by the New York State Educational System for students today are a perfect example of development of the mind.  Students are encouraged to think and reason for themselves in order to be successful on the exams, as well as, in life.  Education today also emphasizes the importance of the development of the body by encouraging students to participate in a variety of sports (both team and lifetime), as well as, making Physical Education classes mandatory for each student.  With sports programs, the athletes are taught to prepare for their competition by thinking of strategies to win.  This supports the pragmatic approach which is based on the “practical approach (based on what works).  The athletes are taught to think of ways to avoid losing and, if they do lose, they are taught ways to prevent it from happening again.  The people that provide you with your education- your teachers- are the people who are your guides while you are in school.  They are your stepping stones along your life and education.  They are the people who you learn from.  I want to make sure that, as an educator, my classroom is a safe and inspiring environment where students are encouraged to grow and develop themselves.  I firmly believe that it is important to have a solid program where you teach in a way that will draw students in, inspiring them to be the best they possibly can.  The classroom needs to be a place where students feel comfortable and secure, a place that is both inviting and inspiring.  I will make sure that I am always positive and smiling because I believe that it is important to be positive- you’re never fully dressed without a smile!  Your students need to know that they can do anything, they need to believe in themselves and this is exactly what I will help them do, as their teacher.  I believe that it is crucial to use creativity to open the minds and develop the character of your students.  The teachers that stand out in my mind were the ones who took simple lessons and applied them to life lessons.  They were inspiring to me, even as a student in the third grade, and made me feel that I could do or be anything I wanted in life.  As an educator, you have the opportunity, every day, to make a difference in these students’ lives.  Everything that you say and do is important in helping them grow.  I will always remember this when teaching my lessons because I want to be the teacher who they remember ten years later when they are sitting in a classroom being asked by their college professors about which teacher had the greatest influence on them.  I want to be the one who made a difference in their lives, the one who inspired them and helped them develop into responsible adults.  I want them to remember every lesson that I taught them and every experience that they received in my classroom.  I will make sure that my classroom is inviting, inspiring, and nurturing; a place of constant positive reinforcement, a place where my students know they have a solid support system in me.  I will make sure that I use my creativity to design every single lesson that I teach to be motivating and enhance my students learning in any way possible.  It is my personal goal to make a difference in the lives of my students, to help them create their own identities, to be one of their stepping stones in their journey of life.

Coaching Philosophy

Coaching Philosophy
My personal coaching philosophy consists of instilling a sense of hard work, dedication, and team work in my athletes.  As a pragmatist, I believe that it is crucial to develop my athletes’ minds, just as well as their bodies.  I want to help them set goals for themselves, giving them the tools necessary to accomplish those goals, thus assisting them in building self-efficacy.  I believe that, as an athlete, having a belief in oneself is crucial to one’s success, in sports and life.  As a coach, it is imperative that I provide for my athletes’ success, thus helping to decrease frustration and increase motivation.  I desire to invent new and innovative ways to help athletes fine tune their skills and develop their minds.  It is important that you are able to figure out what your athletes need to improve upon and then communicate to them in a way that they are able to benefit from your advice.  You could be an expert on recognizing what an athlete is doing wrong, but it means nothing if you aren’t able to connect with them in a way that they can understand what you’re saying.  It is important to take the time to get to know each one of your athletes, as a person and as an athlete, so you can help them develop in any way necessary.  There are always going to be those individuals who excel more than others but it is important that you remember to treat every person the same.  Last spring, I went to observe my ten year old brother, Brendan’s little league game.  I noticed how the children who struggled more with the game were always placed in the outfield.  That was not my idea of good coaching!  These kids were ten years old!  They should still be given the opportunity to play different positions.  How else would they ever improve?  By banishing them to the outfield, you are not accomplishing anything, except a sense of disbelief in their abilities.  It is important, as a coach, that you remember that each child should be treated fairly and given the same opportunities to learn as the others. Your job is to help each kid develop and improve to the best of their ability.   When losing occurs, I want my athletes to learn from the experience and help them find ways to avoid losing the next time.  In my opinion, athletics is a great opportunity to deliver life lessons to the athletes, and I will use every opportunity possible to do so.  I want to help these children develop good character and push them to their fullest potential.  I will do this by providing challenges that will force them to work hard and be persistent.  It is important that I help them to realize exactly what they are capable of and to get them to believe that they can conquer any obstacle they may encounter, whether it is in sports, or life.  I believe that the process is just as important as the product; setting realistic goals and formulating a plan of how to accomplish these goals is just as crucial as actually accomplishing them.  It is important that athletes set both personal, and team goals while participating in sports.  Team work is one aspect of sports that is crucial in order for success to occur.  It creates a relationship with one’s peers, which is something that is essential if one is to be successful in sports, or life.  Through my knowledge, dedication, and passion for sport, I hope that my athletes will gain the knowledge necessary to be successful in sports, as well as everyday life.  I hope that they walk away with the willingness to accepts any challenges they are given and the belief in their ability to overcome them.  If so, I will consider my job, as their coach, a success!

State Conference at Turning Stone Resort and Casino

I am currently getting ready to go into my last semester here at SUNY Cortland and am trying to make the most of any resources that I can; thus I decided to attend the state conference this year.  It was the best decision that I've made yet in my college career (other than choosing to come to Cortland- :-) P   I was able to watch so many awesome presentations and learned so much!  When I returned from the conference (on Saturday), my brain literally "hurt" from all the information that I had in it from just those couple days there.  I met so many amazing people, a couple of teachers in particular who really inspired me.  I've since contacted them and am going to observe a couple of their classes over winter break.  I can hardly wait!  I am so excited!  Since going to the conference, all I want to do is find ways in which to better prepare myself as a teacher.  Attending the conference was exactly what I needed to inspire me and, for those of you reading this that haven't attended PE conference, I highly reccommend making the time to go to the next conference.  I cannot wait to go the National Conference in Boston this March!!!  I cannot emphasize enough-  Go to the Conference!!!!!  You will walk away with an entirely different mindset.  It will open door for you, you will meet amazing, inspiring people, and it is so much fun!!!!  I promise that you will not be disapointed!!!! 

Classroom management

I learned a lot this semester about classroom management.  You would assume that most of it was from my 355 experience but, suprisingly enough, it wasn't.  I actually learned the most about it from my Educational Psychology professor, Mr. Ralph Hesse.  I highly recommend him to anyone that hasn't taken the class yet.  He is an amazing professor who is, quite possibly, the best teacher I have had yet at perfecting classroom management.  I learned so much from him and he helped to inspire me to strive to be the best teacher that I possibly can.  For any of you out there who care to take the time, I highly recommend that you watch a video called, "Hobart Shakespeareans".  It is a very inspiring video that I promise you will not be a waste of your time!  I recieved many different tips, from my Mr. Hesse, this semester, some of them obvious, that I wish to share with you.  Thus, I have decided to share with you one of my papers that I wrote this semester on Classroom Management.  Here it is: 
Beginning your first day as a new teacher can be extremely nerve-racking.  Expectations are high and all on eyes on you every step of the way.  You are now personally responsible for opening the minds of several young boy and girls; it is your goal that each and every one of them walks away a better individual.  Confidence is essential and there is very little room for error.  These children’s well-beings depend on you.  One of the most critical things to becoming an effective teacher is classroom management, yet it is also one of the most terrifying things to rookie teachers.  “Though the ability to manage classrooms can be a challenge, it isn’t impossible, and with careful planning and effective instruction, it can be readily accomplished.” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)  Why is classroom management so important?  How can one insure that they are effectively managing their classroom?  When it comes to motivation in the classroom, is it better to have a learning based classroom or a performance based classroom and what are the differences between the two?  
                The first key to good classroom management is to know exactly what it is.  It is important that one understands that discipline is what happens after a problem occurs and classroom management is what happens before the problem occurs.  Also, it is important that you promote safety and order in the classroom.  Students need to feel safe before they are ready to learn.  This leads to the question, why is classroom management so terrifying to teachers “treading the water” for the first time?  The complexity of the classroom is the number one reason that makes teachers nervous.  They are in an environment that is “multidimensional and simultaneous,” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) simply meaning that there are a large number of events and tasks occurring at the same time.  A second characteristic of the classroom that makes it so complex is that these events occur rapidly and things change quickly.  As a teacher, it is important that you remain poised and ready to deal with whatever may come your way, as these events are unable to be predicted (third characteristic).  The last thing that makes classroom management so challenging is the fact that everything you do is public.  It is important that you are able think on your feet, adapting quickly.  When you make your lesson plans, it is crucial that you know them, inside and out, because you can’t be worrying about what to say next when a problem occurs in the classroom.
                “Classroom management is more than simply creating an orderly environment.  It is a process that contributes to learners’ academic, personal, and social development.” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)  Our first way to managing the classroom is to develop learner responsibility.  It is important that you allow your learners to be actively involved in the process of helping whenever possible so that they recognize they are being responsible.  Have them aide you in establishing class rules and a mission statement.  This will better motivate them to follow the rules, while teaching techniques in which they can show responsibility.   Another way to manage the classroom is to develop a positive learning environment.  If students feel safe and encouraged, they will be more motivated to participate.  It is important that you “wear you attitude on your sleeve”- be respectful, enthusiastic, fun, and caring.  You also want to maximize the time and opportunity for learning (third way of managing the classroom).  In order to do this, you have to be well organized.  Make sure that you plan in advance; you shouldn’t be worrying about what you’re going to teach next.  Be present and focused on what is happening right in front of you.  Plan the least amount of transition times and establish routines and procedures.  When it comes to making rules, it is important that you follow some guidelines, if they are to be effective.  State the rules positively (“should” rather than “should nots”), minimize the number of rules, solicit student input (have them help make the rules), emphasize the reason for the rules, use concrete examples to illustrate the procedures, be consistent, and establish what consequences will occur if the rules are broken.  The fourth, and final, way of managing the classroom is to understand the characteristics of your students.  It is important that you get to know each and every one of your students- know their ages, their motivation levels, their sensitivity, and their eagerness.  If you want to be a good teacher, it is crucial that you do this; let them know that you care, “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” (Maxwell)
                When it comes to motivation in the classroom, is it better to have a learning based or a performance based classroom?  In order to answer this question, we must first know the difference between the two.  A learning based classroom is one where the emphasis is on effort and on understanding the information.  It is one where the goal is continuous student improvement.  In a performance based classroom, the emphasis is on high grades and public displays of ability.  Performance is priority.  One can clearly see that a learning based classroom is what one desires to have in order to ensure the highest level of motivation in our students.  The first variable associated with a learning based classroom is that one needs to have self-regulated learners, learners who set goals and recognize the thought process and behaviors that lead to achieving these goals.  In order to help students become self-regulated learners, one needs to guide them, using steps to help them arrive at their destination.  The first step towards getting them to their destination is to emphasize the relationship between accepting responsibility and learning.  Next, the students themselves give input into the elements of being responsible and embracing learning.  The following step is to actually teach them the concept of responsibility.  It is important that “an informational, rather than controlling,” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) method should be used in expecting responsibility.  The next step to getting your students to their destination of becoming self-regulated learners is to model responsibility yourself, “practice what you preach!”  The fifth step is to “provide a concrete mechanism (ex-use a chart) to help students monitor goal achievement.” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)  The sixth, and final, step is to develop an initial rewards system for students to meet these goals. 
                The second variable associated with a learning based classroom is teacher characteristics (things that you aspire towards).  It is important that you have a high personal teaching efficacy- the belief that student learning is significantly influenced by your teaching abilities.  Low achievement by students should not be dismissed as a function of bad parenting, poor intellect, or bad students.  It is important that you be enthusiastic; you should model a genuine interest in your material.  Never let your students know if there is something in particular that you don’t enjoy teaching (ex- science).  Always show that you care by demonstrating respect, spending time with your students, using “we” and “our” often (creates more connection), learn names, smile, greet, use warm body language, and occasionally show personal interest.  Demonstrate positive experiences, meaning that you want to show confidence in a student’s abilities, show high standards, and be encouraging, as well as supportive.  It is important that your students know that you are one hundred percent invested in their interests and well-being.
                The third variable associated with a learning based classroom is climate variables (environment).  As a teacher, you want to make sure that you are creating a motivating environment.  It is important that, first, you establish safety and order.  Next, you want to establish a climate of success.   Begin class with open-ended questions that assess the learner’s current understanding and then invite participation.  Provide scaffolding while students practice before placing them on they own (ex- if having trouble shooting a basket, lower the hoop).  Minimize competition and maximize cooperation.  An example of this might be putting on a class play where everyone is given a part or some responsibility in the play production.  Next, you want to establish an environment where students are challenged.  It is important that students feel that they have mastered material that is challenging because it helps increase their self-efficacy.  Lastly, you want to make sure that students feel the material is relevant.  If they feel that there was no purpose to what they just taught, or are being taught, they may become frustrated and learning will not occur. 
                The fourth, and final, variable associated with a learning based classroom is instructional variables, which are those variables that develop an interest in learning activities.  It is important that you develop a good introductory focus because this increases attention and curiosity.  Present the students with a unique problem, ask a paradoxical (question that has a riddle in it) question, or provide a demonstration that is eye-catching.  Next, make sure that you personalize the topic; link the subject to students’ lives to help draw them in.  The third thing you want to do in order to develop an interest in learning activities is to create an active involvement; have the students themselves be participants in the lesson.  The last thing that you want to remember to do is to get feedback from your students on how you’re doing.  In order to be a good teacher, it is necessary that you are always open to change if needed, “feedback also contributes to self-regulation.  It gives us information about progress towards goals, and when they’re met, our self-efficacy increases.  If they’re not met, we can then increase our effort or change strategies.”  (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) 
                One can see the importance of good classroom management and what elements, exactly, it consists of.  It is obvious as to why classroom management can be intimidating and difficult, but one can see that it is not impossible to do so effectively.  There are several different ways to manage a classroom effectively, each way emphasizing the importance of coming to class fully prepared, this referring to both you (as the teacher) and your lesson.  When it comes to motivation in the classroom, a learner based classroom is more effective than a performance based one.  There are four different variables associated with a successful learning based classroom, each variable consisting of several parts that aid in helping to insure that learning does, in fact, occur. 

Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (2010).  Educational Psychology.  New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.

Character education

Although I felt very rushed trying to learn all of this information for the final, there were several things that grabbed my interest, character education being one of them.  For my Motor Development class here at SUNY Cortland, I had the opportunity to help out at the CHAMP afterschool program at JM McDonald Sports Complex here in Homer.  It was an amazing experience and I learned several things, the importance of character education being one of them.  At the programs they were constantly introducing the children to different core values.  Although it is not the best written essay that I have ever done, I believe that my question that I completed on the final for this class contained a lot of good ideas for implementing character education so I wanted to share my essay with you.  By the way- this is a big step for me- the fact that I thought about how much I wanted to make sure and put my essay on my blogspot.  Here it is: 
The path to moral education that appeals to me most is character education.  According to Wikepedia, “Character education is an umbrella term loosely used to describe the teaching of children in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant and/ or socially acceptable beings.  I believe that it is so crucial that we help children build good character so that can become outstanding citizens.  Character is, after all, one of the three C’s that we learn here at SUNY Cortland that are crucial in a child’s education.  I think that it is so important to teach children core values such as respect, trustworthiness, fairness, team work, responsibility, caring, and good citizenship so that they can use them in their everyday lives.  As a PE teacher, I will make sure and introduce character education at a young age when children are most susceptible to change.  I will introduce these core values into the lesson that I teach them.  My plan is to introduce them to a different core value every couple of weeks, making sure to implement it into my lesson.  I will take five minutes before my lesson to have a class talk with them, introducing them to the new core value and explaining what it means.  I will make sure and give them plenty of examples and then ask them to come up with some examples of their own.  Throughout the lesson, I will look for chances to “catch” the students using that core value and verbally praise them.  Each time that I introduce a new core value to them I will make a colorful mini poster with the word on it.  By the end of the year, there will be several colorful mini-posters all around the gymnasium with the different core values on them.  I will make sure to use all of the core values that have been introduced sporadically throughout the school year to make sure that they have truly learned the meaning of the core values.  I might even devise some sort of a reward system where they child receives something if I catch them using the core value in class to encourage appropriate behaviors.  Another thing I would do is to put on a community benefit run of some sort and encourage my students to participate.  I would talk to them about what the benefit is for and how their help in the run is a demonstration of good character.  I could also have them help in organizing a food drive to help those in need or have them write letters to our men in the military overseas.  After completing my 256 and 355 observations, it is obvious to me that many children are lacking that structure in their home lives and could use some work on developing their characters for the best.  As a teacher candidate, I can hardly wait for the day that I able to implement all of this into my own classes.  Knowing that we are many kids’ mentors, It is so crucial that we help to model them into the good citizens that they should be.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Goal Setting!!!

On November 16-19, 2011, I had the privilege of attending the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s Conference held at the Turning Stone Convention Center in Verona, New York.  It was an incredible experience and I was able to meet several amazing and inspiring teachers.  I learned many fun, interesting games and activities that I cannot wait to use when I am teaching.  I met teachers who I have already contacted and arranged times where I will be able to travel to their school and observe their classes.  I learned so many things that will help me as a future Physical Educator but the one session that had the most impact on me was presented by a young lady named Sara Reinertsen.  She was the first female leg amputee to complete the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.  Her talk was about “Getting to Your Finishline” and how you should go about doing that.  As a Physical Student here at SUNY Cortland, I feel as if I speak for many of us when I say that this is not an easy profession to enter.  Jobs are scarce and sometimes you can begin to feel almost hopeless.  Sara’s talk was exactly what I needed to inspire me to believe that anything is possible.  According to Sara, the first thing you have to do is to get committed- write down your goals and tell people about them.  It is crucial that you believe in yourself.  Make sure that you start your goals out small and work towards attaining bigger goals.  Remember that these milestone goals, the little goals along the way, are important and celebrate your success of them.  The next thing to do is to make a plan and schedule time to work towards these goals that you’ve set.  Never be afraid to ask for help- find mentors and supporters who you know will be there for you every step of the way.  Be adaptable and open to change.  Things will happen that you never expected and you have to be willing to adapt as necessary.  The last step is to take action.  The only way that you will ever be successful with your goals is if you put in the work.  Sara’s journey of working on her way towards completing the Iron Man was so moving that many people in the room were brought to tears, or on the verge of tears.  It took her thirteen years of hard, vigorous, every day challenges to become an Iron Man.  When I walked out of that room all I wanted to do was begin setting goals for myself and put them into action.  It made me want to strive to be the best teacher I possibly could.  Although I learned so much from attending the conference, the most paramount thing I learned was to dream big.  Anything is possible!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Philosophy of Physical Education

Philosophy of Physical Education
A pragmatist believes that Physical Education systems should be based on the needs and interests of the students.  So do I.  I think that the educator should tailor their lessons they teach to each individual’s level, or learning capacity.  As an educator, I want to teach my student’s a variety of activities that will provide them with multiple experiences.  I want to teach the students exercises that will make them work with their intellects, as well as their bodies.  I believe that having a healthy body is just as important as having a healthy mind.  I want to be able to motivate my students; to encourage them to strive to be better in whatever they do, to teach them to live their lives the best they can.  I want to help them think for themselves.  I believe that all of these qualities are crucial in an educator if they wish to help students be successful in whatever path they choose.  As a future physical educator, I believe that it is important to stress the importance of playing sports (team) or activities (lifetime) outside of Physical Education class.  I believe that it gives the student added motivation to do well in school, as well as, working to attain goals that can be tied to goals in life.  For example, in sports, the athlete works on strategies to avoid losing or, if they do lose, to prevent it from happening again.  This is teaching them to use their minds to think of ways to get around barriers or obstacles that may obstruct them in their lives.  Being on a sports team, or even in a physical education class, stresses the importance of teamwork too.  I believe that teamwork is crucial to one’s success, whether on a sports team or in the working world.  As a future educator, I will repeatedly stress this.  If one does not how to work with their team towards the accomplishments of a particular goal, that goal will never be reached.  As a physical educator, I will try to inspire all of my students to live an active and healthy lifestyle.  I will make sure to encourage this by setting my own examples in the way that I live.  My lessons will always be constructed so that they stimulate students to live healthy lives and become self-motivated individuals with the desire to succeed, mentally and physically.  I will make sure to provide my students with the necessary skills and techniques they need to be good movers, thus enhancing their physical well-being.  Although my main goal is to develop the physical well-being of my students, I will not neglect to bring other subject areas into the classroom.  I will communicate with my colleagues, making sure to link content from their classes whenever possible.  This is an excellent way to give my students the multiple experiences that will make them work with their intellects, as well as their bodies.  I will constantly challenge my students, through my lessons, to help them grow as individuals, remembering to keep in mind that not all students are alike, remembering to tailor my lessons so that they are beneficial to everyone in the classroom.  As a physical educator, I believe that it is imperative for me to ensure that every child exits my classroom inspired to continue a healthy lifestyle and with a strong sense of self-efficacy.  I want them to know that anything is possible, as long as they are willing to put forth the effort.  I hope that they will have learned, from my teaching, that they can overcome any obstacles; nothing is impossible.  When my students leave my classroom, I want to be confident that they have grown, both physically and mentally, and are on the path towards success.