Teaching is to the teacher as cooking is to the chef. There are recipes to be followed, but as all great chefs know, the unique ingredients and the creativity of the chef are what make a great meal. Teaching can be seen in the same light. It is a combination of many ingredients, and the teacher makes wise decisions about how to blend those ingredients to achieve a particular outcome.
The recipe for excellence in teaching calls for the teacher to understand that each student possesses unique abilities and aptitudes. The teacher must be able to blend student characteristics, instructional (teaching) styles or strategies, the environment where the learning is to take place, and his or her personality characteristics to come up with a winning recipe that allows each student to experience success. Just as the chef does not rely on one outstanding recipe to meet all the varied tastes of his or her clients, the teacher cannot rely on just one method of imparting knowledge to all of his or her students. Therefore, an excellent teacher, like the excellent chef, has a variety of recipes to maximize student learning and assure that all the desired outcomes are achieved.
A teaching style is only one aspect of teaching. Before any teaching style can be implemented several other factors must be considered: the content to be taught, the capability of the physical environment to carry out certain styles, the time allotted or necessary for style implementation, the amount of allocated class time, the teacher’s personal style, and most important the students themselves. Across the nation, school demographics are changing, so instructional practices must be modified to meet the challenges of a more diverse population. As teaching styles and strategies are presented throughout this chapter, consider the factors mentioned to see whether that particular style matches program objectives, content, and students’ developmental levels. Also, consider what modifications can be made to allow a match between teaching style and each lesson. No one teaching style has been demonstrated to enhance learning for all students, and each style has unique outcomes. Using a variety of teaching styles appropriately will ensure that the needs of all students are met. The main goal is for all students to experience success in the movement environment.
Preparing the Environment
Success in education is defined as student achievement. Several factors influence the success of a lesson. Did the student learn what was planned by the conclusion of the lesson? Did the student achieve the objectives set at the beginning of the lesson? The ultimate goal of teaching is student learning. The environment where physical activity is taught plays an important role in establishing the tone for student learning. Although some environmental factors cannot be modified, such as size of the playing fields, teachers can design a learning arena that is inviting, encouraging, and safe.
Create an attractive learning environment. Craft bright and interesting bulletin boards and other wall displays that teach. Integrate work and action pictures of your students. Have visual aids to set up as attractive focal points during a lesson such as models of the human heart, a skeleton, an oversized rubber band to represent a muscle stretching, or attractive posters that highlight the bones or muscles that you are studying that week. For younger students you might have a cardboard skeleton that you begin putting together as you study the anatomy of the body.
Displays will enhance student learning, especially if the materials are available for them to see close up or examine personally during a lesson. Students, parents, and other volunteers can help generate these displays. Consider asking the art teacher to integrate this as a special project into his or her class.
Incorporate music. Music is an excellent avenue to enhance the learning environment. Music can welcome students, signal station changes, and provide a background that invites participation. Incorporating music with a good beat and tempo can also be used to help develop kinesthetic awareness of the body in motion and spatial awareness. Music helps students integrate multisensory skills that are necessary to accomplish all physical activities. Within the bounds of good taste, allow students to bring music from home (screen before using in class).
Provide a safe environment. A safe environment provides a foundation for learning. No one can learn about or enjoy physical activity if he or she is afraid. Physical safety includes an environment free of debris, hazards, and other unsafe situations. Make sure that activity areas, locker rooms, and classrooms are clean, freshly painted, and safe. Teach students specific safety information. Remind students often about safety concerns, and practice emergency procedures.
Read more from Teaching Physical Education for Lifelong Fitness, Third Edition.