Student Teacher Charlotte Rollett shares her experience during her practicum assignment working at Patrick Airlie School
I am just over two weeks into my practicum at Patrick Airlie School and I already feel as though my idea of what Physical Education is has entirely transformed. Coming into this experience I was extremely excited to find out I would be teaching Physical Education for my second practicum. I have always valued Physical Education, as it was my favourite class as a student and I am an advocate for leading an active lifestyle. However, I must admit that a large part of me thought Physical Education was simply a time for students to move around and release some of their extra energy. I never thought there was much more to it. Indeed, I have grown up in a society in which Math, Science, Language Arts, and Social Studies are viewed as much more important than Physical Education. Before this experience began, I was blind to the fact that Physical Education should be viewed as equally as important in a student’s learning journey.
I learned very quickly from observation and conversations with my cooperating teacher that Physical Education should not be overlooked or neglected, as it has so much value. I have also become familiar with the Alberta Program of Studies and in doing so, it has opened my eyes to all the things that Physical Education intends to offer. Indeed, there are important life skills woven into the curriculum. An example of this would be the unit plan I am working on. I am currently designing and teaching a unit on cooperation. I have learned throughout the creation and execution of this unit that I am not just teaching the rules to a series of mini-games, but rather attempting to teach the fact that without cooperation, there can be no success. My unit aims to teach students about effective communication, the importance of teamwork, the benefits of leadership, and the value in playing fairly. The Alberta Program of Studies for Physical Education aims to teach students skills of communication, teamwork, fair play, and leadership so that they may not only demonstrate them in Physical Education class, but also transfer them into other important aspects of their lives.
My job as a future teacher is to make sure these important aspects of the curriculum are not ignored. Certainly, my hope moving forward is that Physical Education becomes more valued throughout the teaching community. Physical Education – like Math, Science, Language Arts, and Social Studies – should just be another opportunity for students to learn the skills that will help set them up for success. I have seen very clearly some of the ways in which the importance of Physical Education is evident in my practicum school. In fact, I noticed that my cooperating teacher makes a point to refer to it as “Physical Education”, rather than the more commonly used term, “Gym”. To some people this might seem like a small detail, but for me it is representative of what we as teachers should be attempting to do - educate. Of course, I will give my students the chance to be physical, but in doing so I will make sure I do not overlook the education part.