~ Brian Skilling Physical Education Specialist

As a teacher of physical education my primary mission is to create a wide range of movement experiences for my students, that will foster the development of their motor abilities, enable them to evaluate and take ownership of their personal fitness levels, foster leadership, cooperative and problem solving abilities and, most of all, to help in the creation of positive memories and attitudes towards staying physically active for life.

During the middle school years, I feel its essential for students to be provided with a wide variety of motor-skill building experiences. Manipulative and object control skills, such as dribbling a basketball, batting and racket skills, are developed during various traditional and nontraditional activities. Students must be presented and challenged with a wide scope of activities that use various locomotor and traveling skills continually. This approach fosters improved coordination, agility and balance; enhancing each student’s self-confidence as a mover and raising the quality of personal performance levels.

That isn’t a bad start, but I don’t believe that it’s enough to simply develop ‘good movers’. I want each student to become a ‘smart mover’. Basic offensive and defensive movement strategies are gradually introduced into a variety of team, individual and modified competitive games and sports. Helping each young learner to build solid foundation of basic knowledge related to the movement patterns observed in various games, both traditional and nontraditional, the student gradually begins to gain insight into what is effective and ineffective, and WHY. Once an individual understands how to effectively move within the flow of a game (field-presence), they will be able to better put themselves in situations where they will find greater opportunities for higher personal success rates. As students steadily develop this knowledge base, they will begin to transfer / employ this understanding into a host of physical activities based on their own interests, that they will choose to come across throughout their life, either as a participant, fan or coach.

Recreational and lifetime fitness activities are also explored. These activities provide both a healthy balance for the competitive person and explores physical activities for the individual who prefers less organized and / or noncompetitive physical pursuits. These experiences encompass backyard lawn games, outdoor winter fitness choices, guided-imagery stress reduction, archery and dance, just to name a few.

A middle school student also gains benefits from engaging in team problem solving initiatives. Leadership qualities, cooperation, decision making, communicating effectively and critical thinking are always in the state of evolving. Helping students navigate these experiences encourages healthier social interaction with peers.

Knowing how to how to increase and maintain one's personal physical fitness is focused throughout the year. ‘Knowledge is power!’ This is the approach I take regarding teaching health related physical fitness. Students engage throughout the year in activities and discussions that revolve around physiological changes and adaptations that take place in the body during exercise. Formal and informal discussions also take pace that look at personal activity habits and how it manifests itself in personal fitness results. This approach leads to students being proactive towards improving their own activity levels (realistic goal setting) and therefor empowering themselves to take control of their fitness.

In closing, again I must reemphasize, as a teacher my ultimate goal is to help create positive attitudes in students towards being active, to give each student a base of knowledge and successful experiences to draw from in the future.

“Challenge yourself; Take chances and make mistakes; It’s okay to laugh at yourself; Take responsibility for you actions; Step out of your comfort zone; Respect yourself and others, are the messages that are constantly reinforced in my class and then I hope carried internally by them outside of the walls of this classroom.

“I CAN”, are not just simple words. Together they form a mantra to live your life by!

Brian Skilling