With our last lab upon us, and our last chance to impress the students at St. Mary’s with our games and activities, we wanted to leave a lasting memory in which everyone gets involved and actually wants to participate. To do this, we had to bring out the secret weapon: the parachute.
It cannot be just fun and games, however. When talking with Dr. Yang beforehand he made sure to stress to me the importance of incorporating as many motor skills as possible, so that was in the back of my head as we started. The easiest way to get everyone moving was to just walk around in a circle. From there we skipped, reversed both, and then it was time for the real fun. For some reasons all kids act like they have never done this activity before, so as I started explaining how we were going to bring the parachute high, and then quickly snap our arms down and climb underneath forming a dome with us inside, they started freaking out. When under the dome, I would call out colors and if the student was sitting on a stripe of that color they had to run and change spots. We also walked at different levels, both high and low.
From there it was too cold to go outside so we went downstairs to the cafeteria and played little games and other small activities. I chose to work with a few girls playing mancala, before making my over to some other girls playing dress up with paper dolls. The fine motor skills in mancala really impressed me, especially with how rapid fire it is from player to player, that they can continue talking and take their turn without even thinking. Also, I loved watching how creative the girls got with the dressing up, and their responses to my antagonizing questions. When I asked one girl why the doll had bright pink shoes to go with her black dress she responded, "Well it's her birthday and she got the shoes as a present," without even lifting her head up or having any signs of confusion.
When we finished up in the cafeteria I went upstairs to join the pre-K in their game. In the first game, the group had the kids match up rubber chickens, six-sided die, and plastic numbers but color. At each station they had to do an activity to how ever many the corresponding number was. It amazed me how well some of the kids did. The one girl literally had a flawless push up, bending at the elbows, back flat and everything. Even those who struggled at first, especially with the sit-up, were very teachable when correcting their form. After that a game of "Simon Says" was played, and since no one likes being called out for not following directions I teamed up with a little girl who seemed to be struggling grasping the concept of only doing things when Simon says to. By the end she picked up on it and was all smiles, and it was great to know I played a hand in that.
When it came time to do the group game, I made one of the biggest mistake an educator can make. I let me competitive side take over and I put the children in harms way. While playing "Sharks and Minnows" I attempted to dodge a tag made by my group member Luke and absolutely crushed a little girl who came up on my blind side to my left. I fell right on top of her, very hard, and she immediately burst out crying. I got her an ice pack and talked with her for a few minutes but I felt absolutely horrible. While I will take it as a learning experience and move on, I really wish that was not my last memory at St. Mary's this semester. She was fine by the time I left.
As we brought it in for the team huddle and breakdown at the end of the lab, I started to think of all the memories I have collected. I started to reflect on how far I have come as a physical educator in just four months. Thinking back to when I arrived or my first lab and how nervous I was really blew me away. I did not know how to talk to children as a teacher, I did not know what to do when things did not go as planned, and now all of that seems second nature to me. Seeing as how this was my first real PE class here at Cortland, I could not have asked for a better experience. The little cues I have picked up from my time at St. Mary’s have made me think, act, and plan as a teacher, something I was not aware of previous. I am going to miss the kids, the environment, and really acting like a teacher.
It has also made me aware of how important field experience can be, and I am going to do my best to find more opportunities both here in Cortland and at home to improve my skills as a future PE teacher. Watching how far all of my classmates came was also something awesome to witness. Each and every one of us improved tenfold in our ability to present our activities and keep the students engaged. I credit most of that to Dr. Yang, and the advice he would give as opposed to the criticism when something would go wrong. I greatly enjoyed and appreciated my time at St. Mary's.
Check out my Lab 6 for some reflection questions on my time at St. Mary's!