An Educator's View


By Jana McAdams, Physical Education teacher

I am not sure that it is a normal thing to text friends and colleagues about how much I am enjoying grading students' projects. It is for sure not a normal thing to post an Instagram of my grading with the caption that I enjoy reading my students' thinking!

However, that is where I found myself this weekend. Recently, I assigned my students a project that required them to break down Track & Field events into specific skills, their movements, and the importance of these movements. I was blown away by their insightful responses. They inspired me to send a text to a friend of mine saying, "Sounds silly, but I am SO loving grading my students' work right now and getting really excited. They are saying and explaining things that make me think, ‘Yes! That's an amazing thought!’" I also texted a colleague, a credentialed teacher and chief academic officer at a nearby private school, with a reflection quotation from one of my students, telling her how amazed that I was with their thinking. My students were making such profound statements! Here is a brief sampling of some of their thoughts:

I care that people as fast as me are there so we can have a great race...I would rather come in last having a good challenge then come in first with people not as fast as me.

I also wonder if I am going to win when I run. When we do the relay races, I get really nervous when it is our turn and I always ask myself, "Am I getting the team down?" Then I realize that we all make mistakes.

I wonder if it is better to have the fastest runner on your team run first, second, third, or fourth and what place the slowest runner should run at.

I have noticed that is can be very helpful to focus on all the other contestants that seem to be doing well and see what they are doing. Look at what seems to make them do better than everybody else. Try to mimic them.

Even though physical education is my passion, I had never considered that these learning opportunities were possible. Now I recognize that as I have grown as a thinker at IVA, it just comes natural to have students engage in new ways of thinking as well, and no class is an exception.