<![CDATA[Lynn Hefele@gmail.com - Blog]]>Wed, 09 Mar 2016 13:31:39 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[What I Learned During Recess Today]]>Tue, 05 Jan 2016 01:16:03 GMThttp://suffolkzone-ele-ms.weebly.com/blog/what-i-learned-during-recess-today​I would like to share an incident that occurred while I was teaching the other day.  At the time, I found the actions of one of my students to be unconscionable.  Now, as I look back, I consider the incident both comical and pivotal.
It was a beautiful fall day, 65 degrees, clear, with no wind, so we decided to bring our classes outdoors.  While I love being outdoors, teaching outside at my school does not provide for the best learning environment.  The outdoor space consists of a grassy area the size of a soccer field, a small blacktop, and a playground.  Therefore, during the lunch periods, we are competing with the myriad of distractions that come with seventy-five children at play.
We were working on kicking a stationary ball, so we chose to kick a football off a tee. We used dynamic football warm-ups to begin the class.  These warm-ups consisted of agility courses in which the students had to jump small cones, run through hoops, and zigzag through larger cones.  Between the kicking stations and the warm-up, we set up 72 cones and 40 hoops.  It took nearly a half hour to precisely line up all the cones and arrange all the colorful hoops.
The time spent was worth it, the day was going really well until the 4th class came to an end.  We had just finished our lesson and had begun walking toward the school in our two straight lines when I stopped dead in my tracks.
I have been teaching for 27 years.  As a result, there is rarely an occasion that causes my blood pressure to rise.  Furthermore, if something does transpire to make my insides grow hot with emotion, I have learned to gain control and respond in an educationally appropriate manner.
However, on this day, I had an out of body experience as I watched a 3rd grade student proceed to kick, with reckless abandon, all my beautiful cones!  One after the next, he launched each cone into the air with what would have gotten him a level 4 on my stationary kicking rubric.  Left, right, left, kick!  Left, right, left, kick!
While his actions were surprising, my response was as equally bizarre.  After shouting his name and running to him, I said something I have never said in all my years of teaching!  “You are losing recess tomorrow!” 
My brain immediately reset into teacher mode but it was already too late.  I don’t believe in taking away recess as a consequence for behavior and especially not for students that need to move as much as this one; but I had said it, and I wasn’t taking it back.
That night, while surfing Facebook, I came across this post shared by the Mankind Project via my friend Carol Ayres.
​I thought of my “cone punter.”  I am sure it is not the first time he was losing recess and I didn’t think it would be his last either.  I wasn’t going to give him back recess but maybe I could make his time away from it meaningful.
He met me in my office after lunch and we put on pedometers.  We each made an estimate as to how far it was around the perimeter of the school grounds and we set off on our “walkabout.”  I asked him about the punting incident and got no response.  My guess is that there was no real reason rooted in logic.  He was caught up in the glorious feeling that one gets when an object goes flying into the air after coming in contact with the foot!  We continued our walk and talked about his family make-up and other no threatening topics.  We discussed why although we had walked the same distance, I had fewer steps.  We walked past the playground where all of his friends were playing.  For one third of a mile we made a connection that I would never have made in the gymnasium during P.E.
Now, I don’t want to imply that I somehow changed this child’s life with a “walkabout” but I did change our relationship and that has made a difference in how we treat each other, both in and out of P.E.
So, what did I learn in recess today? Well, there is an old adage that states: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  I believe in consequences for inappropriate actions but too often I rely on the same consequences even though they make no changes in student behavior.  I learned that if I take something away from a child, I should be replacing it with something that will make a difference.  I learned that children need more than a good curriculum, authentic assessments and precise feedback on their performance.  They need sincere individual person to person interactions and relationships.
I’d love to hear from other teachers.  When you have a “cone punter” in your class, what do you do? How do you build relationships with your students?  How do you make meaningful changes in behavior?  And “What did you learn during recess today?”   
<![CDATA[Marketing PE 101]]>Sat, 11 Jul 2015 16:14:04 GMThttp://suffolkzone-ele-ms.weebly.com/blog/marketing-pe-101  Think about your favorite restaurant.  What is it about that particular restaurant that makes it your favorite?  Chances are it is the combination of a quality product, good service, and the ambiance that keeps you coming back for more.  If any one of these three areas were below standard, you might not return and probably wouldn’t recommend the restaurant to your friends.

Now think about your physical education program.  While your students don’t have a choice whether or not to frequent your establishment, if you are trying to promote your program, then a satisfied customer is your first order of business. 

First, take a look at your product.  Do you have a quality physical education program that has a variety of skills on the menu?  While students will say they always want to play a certain game, they only know what they have experienced.  Continually changing and using a variety of techniques, technology and differentiating the instruction will keep students from getting bored and keep them moving with purpose.  Furthermore, a student that finds your class intellectually, as well as, physically challenging, will be more likely to talk about, “what they did in gym, today,” to their parents.

Next, how is the service in your gymnasium?  Teachers have a variety of classroom management techniques, and while safety and order should be taken into consideration when developing a routine, the focus of the class needs to be about meeting your student’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive needs.  Take a moment to virtually step into your own classroom as a student.  Now, ask yourself if you would want to be taught or disciplined with the language and tone of voice you use.  A student that feels safe from verbal and physical harm in your classroom will sing your praises for the rest of their life.

How about the ambiance?  While this may sound silly, students, parents, other teachers, and administrators will think that you are a fabulous teacher simply because when they walk by the gym the decor is visually pleasing.  Posters, word walls, colorful equipment and a fun variety of music, create a welcoming setting for your fabulous cuisine.

Realistically, there are very few restaurants that become successful by just opening their doors for breakfast and closing them after dinner.  Getting patrons through the door takes many different types of marketing.  If you are trying to promote your program to parents and administrators, then you are going to have to go the extra mile.  Not to mention the fact that just because your students are not in your classroom, doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to provide them with learning opportunities they can access at other times of their day.

For example, do you have a website?  If so, what’s on it?  Any successful business in today’s market has a website to advertise their product.  Your website should have your students’ schedules and the class expectations so that parents know when they need to be prepared for class.  Likewise, if your curriculum and grading policies are clearly defined and available, parents can support your lessons at home while you are teaching a unit in class.  Provide a web page for students with enrichment links and activities and provide a page for parents with links to supporting leagues, programs and educational information that they can explore.  Also, continually posting photos and videos will keep them coming back to your site.

Old school advertising can be as effective as new technology.  Take ownership of a bulletin board in a hallway and/or the cafeteria.  Anywhere that students, parents, and administrators will see it.  Make sure to change your bulletin board at least bi-monthly.  A bulletin board that is faded with torn pictures is worse than no bulletin board at all.  Display pictures of students in action and have educational information in large age appropriate text. 

Does your school put out a newsletter or any regularly scheduled communication to parents?  In your newsletter article, you can focus on a different grade level, class, lesson, educational topic, or event.  Have it proof read for spelling and grammar.  One spelling mistake takes the focus off your program and onto your credibility as a teacher.

Specials!!!  Every restaurant will have specials that give their menu some added punch.  It’s never a meatloaf or a pot roast but a Bouillabaisse or Crème Brule.  What is your specialty?  Advertise it!  Whether the event takes place during or after the school day, inviting parents to your class to see what you’re teaching and how much their children are learning is invaluable.  Use all the bells and whistles: decorations, music, and student ambassadors to seat or serve the parents are just a few ways to make the event special.  Don’t feel like you have to do this on your own.  Partner with a school, community, or charity organization to increase your exposure.  High school clubs like the National Honor Society and Key Clubs are required to do community service.  Join with other teachers to do cross curriculum events or the PTA to do family events.  Jump Rope for Heart and other charities are always eager to sponsor events in the schools.

Finally, networking is the single most important way to promote your program.  Most people will walk by your gym and see children having fun (at best) or organized chaos (at worst).  Without you speaking out about what to expect from a quality PE program, your program will be viewed as little more than an extension of recess.  Take every opportunity to speak about what’s new in your program.  Ask to speak at back-to-school night, PTA, and faculty meetings.  Get to know the parents of your students by being available and visible at parent/teacher conferences and attend other special events.  For the truly advanced tech savvy teacher, you might want to check out www.Edmodo.com.  It is a social networking site for teachers, students, and parents.  You can connect with your students online as though they were in your classroom.  Parents can view their students work through a parent portal.  You can also connect with other physical education teacher groups.  Also for the techie, the Coach’s Eye is a videotaping app that allows you to send video clips of student performance to parents.  For the not so tech friendly, send home positive notes and certificates and make “Sunshine Calls” to highlight exceptional skills and behaviors.

Marketing your program is work but if you are passionate about what you do and truly believe that you make a difference in a child’s life, it is well worth the effort.  So next time you are at your favorite, restaurant/clothing store/sports club/social event,  take a closer look at how the advertise and figure out if it will work for you!  ]]>
<![CDATA[To Connect, Follow, or Friend]]>Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:54:05 GMThttp://suffolkzone-ele-ms.weebly.com/blog/to-connect-follow-or-friendI grew up in a time when you answered the phone in the kitchen and had to pull the cord into the other room for privacy.  It was a time when you never would have thought to change the channel on the TV during a commercial because it meant getting up off the couch.  I played follow the leader and connect the dots.

Now, I can talk on the phone walking down the street.  I can use it to watch TV with or without commercials.  And, I use it to connect and follow hundreds of friends and colleagues at the same time!  Boy, have things changed!

Over the past year, I finally decided to jump into the Physical Education social networking world.  It is a vast world of hashtags and links, videos and podcasts.  I am overwhelmed and inspired at the same time.  After hours, days and months of friending, pinning, posting, commenting and tweeting I still have not come close to scratching the surface of the physical education network on the World Wide Web.

So, for those of you that are contemplating joining the frenzy, I would like to introduce you to Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook so you can join in the fun.


Linkedin is a social networking site for professionals.  When joining Linkedin you will be asked to set up a profile.  This profile is essentially a resume of you as a professional.  You will be asked to input your background including work experience, education, volunteer experiences, causes, publications, skills, honors, awards, and organizations.  People will be able to search for you and you can search for others.  You will be notified when people view your profile. However, to see a full list of who views your profile you need to upgrade to Linkedin Premium.  I recently contacted an individual about speaking at our AHPERD conference and instead of a resume he directed me to his Linkedin page.  This made viewing his credentials simple and instantaneous.

Next you will start developing a network by making connections.  You can add connections from lists of people you already know by uploading your email accounts.  You can also search for connections through alumni.  When you make a connection, Linkedin will post a page of people with similar profiles that you might be interested in connecting with.  From this page you can invite people to connect.  They may or may not accept your invitation.

If you are searching for a job, there is a tab for Jobs.  In this section, a list of jobs that are available in your network will appear.  You can reach out to your connections for help in landing positions.

The most useful attribute of Linkedin for me has been the Interests/Groups tab.  In the groups tab, you will be able to join networks that interest you specifically.  There are several groups that relate specifically to physical education. Some of my favorites are Physical Education Professionals, The PhysicalEducator.com, The PE Scholar, Sports Medias Best Practice P.E. Videos, Physical and Health Education Specialists, Elementary PE+, Health and Physical Educators, and National PE Institute.  Someone in the group will start a discussion and anyone in the group can respond.  Whenever a new discussion or comment is posted, you will receive a notification in your e-mail.  People you should connect with on Linkedin are Artie Kamiya and Guy Van Damme (and me!)


While I am still learning how to maneuver around the Twitter world, I am certain that it is a very powerful tool for connecting with other professionals and developing professionally.  Unlike Linkedin, Twitter is not strictly for professionals. If you choose to use Twitter professionally I suggest you use a different site for personal social networking. 

Your profile for Twitter is whatever you would like it to be.  If you have a website, I suggest putting it in your profile.  This gives people that are thinking of following you something to base their decision on. 

The whole concept of the site is to post tweets.  A tweet is whatever you want to say in 140 characters or less.  Personally, I find this to be very difficult.  Throw all of the English language grammar you learned throughout your life out the window and narrow what you have to say down to as few characters as you can and then end with a hashtag.  Including a link in your tweet is the best way to get the most twitter in your tweet.

This is a hashtag #.  A hashtag is used to identify a group that you want your tweet to be associated with.  For example, I might say, SHAPE 4/1/14 St. Louis www.AAHPERD.com  #physed.  By hashtagging with the physed suffix, anyone that searches for physed would see this tweet.  #Physed is very popular and specific to the physical education community.  If you are looking for technology in PE then use #pegeeks.  Also, on every other Monday night there is a group called #pechat that talks about issues relevant to PE.  The topics, time, and dates can be found at http://www.thephysicaleducator.com/pechat/

On your homepage you will see how many people you have following you, how many people you follow and how many tweets you have made.  There will also be an unending scroll of tweets for you to peruse.  If you like a particular tweet, you can favorite it or retweet it so that everyone who follows you will know about it.  You can also reply to a tweet or tweet at someone specifically. Twitter will notify you via email or a message on your phone when you have a new follower and will suggest new people for you to follow.  People you might want to follow on Twitter include Joey Feith, Nathan Horne, Adam Howell, Kelly Ann Parry, Jo Bailey and Matthew Pomeroy.  These people will connect you with specific websites, podcasts, apps, and curriculum ideas that are trending.



Of course, let’s not forget about friending!  In Facebook, you search for friends and send out friend requests.  You will have a wall on which to post things.  Think of a wall as your personal TV show.  You are creating your own sitcom for anyone to see- sentences, photos, videos, links, etc.  Notice I said anyone!  Make sure that you set your account privacy settings the way you would like them- public, friends only, etc.  What goes on in Facebook doesn’t necessarily stay in Facebook!  Many professionals have gotten in a lot of trouble for posts about work that eventually got back to administration!  If don’t have something nice to say- don’t say it!  You may also want to consider having more than one page.  I have a page as me, Lynn Hefele, which I use for friends and family, and a page for my business, LEPE, Inc.  This allows me to separate my social life from my business life.  Facebook also allows you to create groups within your social network.  For example, if I want all of my school related people to know that we have a faculty meeting in the morning; I can send out a message to my Southdown group.  Anyone in the group can post to anyone else as well.  You may also wonder what happens when you “like” a business on Facebook.  Simply put, once you like something, you will receive their notices (i.e. events, advertisements, articles of interest, etc.)  Aside from your wall, you also have a home page.  Your homepage is like a running newspaper of what is happening in your friend’s lives.  Don’t ask me what the formula is for how Facebook determines what storylines to send you.  I think it’s magic!  My favorite thing about Facebook is that they remind me when it’s a friend’s birthday!

 Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook are the more popular social networking sites out there.  All in all, I think that people that like to say more than 140 characters prefer Linkedin and/or Facebook and people that are comfortable with technology are on Twitter.  There are other social networking sites that the physical education community engages in including Edmodo, Pinterest, and Google Hangouts. Eventually, I may be qualified to write about them.  Visit http://www.lepeinc.com/pe-websites.html for a more comprehensive list that also includes websites, apps, Youtube videos, podcasts and more.  Like anything else in life, it takes time to learn and master something new.  I encourage you to take the 14 day Twitter Challenge for PE Teachers, http://thepegeek.com/2013/04/09/the-20-day-twitter-challenge/.   It will help you get started.  I look forward to connecting and following with you!

<![CDATA[What are We Learning in P.E. Today?]]>Thu, 12 Jun 2014 01:10:02 GMThttp://suffolkzone-ele-ms.weebly.com/blog/what-are-we-learning-in-pe-todayWhat are we learning in PE today?

The first question asked every day with every class in every gymnasium across the country and possibly around the world is most likely, “What are we playing in gym today?”  It may be an overly simplistic answer to our educational reputation dilemma, but conditioning students to ask, “What are we learning in PE today?” instead of “What are we playing in gym today?” is a small step toward educating the next generation about the merits of physical education.

However, it then becomes incumbent upon us to be able to provide an answer to this new and improved question, each and every time a student enters our classroom.  Our classroom, the gymnasium, while different in size and equipment, needs to look and feel and operate like an environment for learning.  Allowing the educational hierarchy to view us as different,  and more often than not, as less, guarantees that we will remain educationally second class despite the rising need for PE. 

So how is it that we operate like a typical academic classroom, yet still remain true to the physicality of our domain? 

I am reminded of my final interview with the Assistant Superintendent prior to receiving my teaching position.  His question was, “Your master’s degree is in Biomechanics, why are you applying for a physical education teaching position?”  My response was immediate, I said, “Because physical education should be taught as a science.” The next question was “Your degree is in secondary education, why are you applying for an elementary position?”  To which I answered, “Because the change needs to start at the beginning.”  After the interview, I thought about those answers that came without thought and realized that in fact, I believed in them.  Not only do I believe that physical education should be taught as a science, I also believe it should be taught through the English Language Arts and Mathematical disciplines as well.  And I believe we need to start in the earliest years.

The answer to teaching physical education as an academic discipline is to teach it the way we were taught physical education.  Not the way that we were taught in elementary school or even in high school but the way we were taught in our post graduate institutions.  While the majority of physical education teachers probably entered the profession as an alternative to following their unattainable childhood goal of becoming a professional athlete, most exited their college years understanding the physics of movement; the physiology of exercise; the philosophy, psychology, and sociology of sport.  The mathematical word problems that we answered revolved around activity.  The chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology tests we completed dealt with human movement and exercise.  Yet, we go back into the schools and don’t understand how we can meet the Common Core Standards or why we should even be required to try.

We mustn’t confuse the old concepts of interdisciplinary education with teaching to the Common Core Standards.  We are not being asked to teach English! We are being asked to teach Physical Education with English. We need to teach using academic concepts not because the Department of Education wants us to, but because it is how Physical Education should be taught in order for the next generation to become truly physically literate.  We need children to learn how and why it is important to move by giving them literature that teaches and supports healthy lifestyles.  We need to teach anatomy and physiology so that they can identify specifically why the exercises and games are being played.  We need to highlight the scientific data behind the benefits of exercise on every aspect of life.  Then, ironically, by teaching physical education we will assist in reaching the Common Core Standards.

We need to start developing a cognitive curriculum that mirrors the scope and sequence of your physical curriculum. We have two national standards that specifically require cognition.  

Standard 2- The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tacticsrelated to movement and performance.  

Standard 3- The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.

In order to truly attain these standards, instruction and assessment through academic means is warranted and beneficial.   Additionally, the development and implementation of academic instruction and assessment needs to begin early so that students grow up seeing physical education as a class and not as play time.

Please, don’t misunderstand me, I believe in maximum movement and 100% enjoyment.  Academic instruction has to be given creatively and concisely but effectively.  

Some tools for implementing academic instruction include:

·         Alternating intense physical activity with short periods of cognitive instruction

·         Using exit tickets for assessment

·         Using concept, principle, strategy and tactical flash cards with students while they are waiting in line

·         Assigning outside of class assignments

·         Giving incentives for optional reading and writing assignment  

I truly believe that as an educational discipline, we will not survive in this new age of education if we cannot demonstrate that learning is happening in our classrooms physically, cognitively and emotionally.  I also believe that as a culture, we will not thrive if our children continue to become more and more sedentary.  Knowledge, physical activity and enjoyment in equal parts are the answer to creating a physically literate active adult.]]>