Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I (mostly) hate sports.

     Anyone who knows me knows that I do not like sports. I have lots of reasons, but I think mainly I don't like being disappointed after getting emotionally invested in a game. Also I have a lot of resentment towards professional athletes who make millions of dollars for doing something that isn't nearly as important to our society as teaching children to read, write, count, and think. Call me selfish. 
     Here comes the big confession....I've learned so much from watching my kids at practices and in games. Just because I don't enjoy sports doesn't mean that I want to deprive my own children from developing athletic talents if that's what they enjoy. So I've spent quite a few hours watching karate, baseball, soccer, basketball, and tennis even though my kids are only 5 and 8 years old.
     I blogged about the fantastic karate instructors my son had awhile back and this recent post by Lori Sabo from The Daily 5 website reminded me of the amazing things I've learned from watching coaches. Sabo's main points include:

  1. positive reinforcement - who doesn't like a kind word or a wink or a smile??
  2. modeling - show the right & wrong way
  3. monitoring - keep an eye on your students
  4. differentiation - meet your students where they are and push them farther
  5. purpose - explain why 
  6. element of fun - people (big and little) like games
  7. celebration - verbalize what was accomplished
  8. current research - be smart, keep up with your field
     Of these 8 elements, I think differentiation is the most difficult, especially if you're working in the Land of the Little People (K or 1st grade) where attention spans and self-direction are in short supply. However, the other 7 things on the list are EASY. 
     I've noticed in the last month as I've included frequent games, dance breaks, and increased eye contact that my class has soared. I'm working with a population that is mostly ELL, mostly poor, and mostly behind academically - but they have risen to the occasion EVERY time I've challenged them. I'm checking off 1. positive reinforcement, 3. monitoring, 5. purpose, 6. fun, and 7. celebration from the list above. Woot!
     As for 2. modeling...I am fortunate to work at a school that hit the technology jackpot. We all received Hover cams in our classrooms last month and let me tell you that it is a blessing! My students struggle with oral directions. Their language skills are weak, but if I show them on the big screen what I'm talking about they jump right in. So there's a big check for modeling. 
     8. Current research? Got it. Thanks to my PLN on Twitter I've read a couple of great books lately, but have also been exposed to lots of amazing ideas through a variety of chats. 
     4. Differentiation here I come! This is my first year teaching 1st graders and I'm still working on the management issues that arise with 20 busy little people. I've just begun to scratch the surface in teaching self-motivation and self-direction. 
     Maybe I'll get some good ideas at baseball practice tonight??

No comments:

Post a Comment