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Name: Kathy Wagner
I pay attention to local, state, national, or world events and try to incorporate them into my teaching. I feel that students learn best when they can identify with events that are happening around them. My students have participated in our own Summer and Winter Olympics, held an Iditarod dog sled race, danced during May Day festivities, celebrated the Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo, and participated in our own International Pancake Race. These kinds of events not only teach valuable skills, but create lasting memories that remind students of the enjoyment they experienced in physical education.
To promote fun and fitness, I use pedometers with my early childhood and kindergarten students. I've developed a method at the chalkboard that helps my kindergarten children read the numbers on their step counters. I do the reading of the numbers for my preschool children but, even at this young age, they are associating increased numbers of steps with improved levels of fitness.
I feel that my particular expertise in teaching is taking an activity that, in isolation, would only have meaning to children for that moment, and converting it into an activity that they can see as having lifetime benefits.
I accomplish this by providing a fun, educational experience for children that teaches them the value of lifelong physical activity. Fitness is a learned skill, so I try to instill in children a love of movement and an interest in learning about the activities in which we engage. Providing a curriculum that teaches fundamental skills, yet allows students to have enjoyable and memorable experiences, encourages them to develop a positive attitude about physical activity that can last a lifetime.
Teaching at the kindergarten and early childhood levels, I work with a unique age group that requires a different emphasis than teaching older students. In considering the two words Physical and Education, my focus has become more on the word education. Class procedures, rules, and skills that I may have taken for granted with older children have become the main emphasis of many a class lesson. It is my belief, however, that these lessons can be learned through a fun and meaningful curriculum that provides fundamental skills, games, and activities that stress healthy lifestyle choices, appropriate socialization, multicultural experiences, cross-curricular integration, and an appreciation of physical activity.
Being named the 2008 Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year is an incredible honor. Knowing that I have been recognized by my peers as a teacher who provides exemplary teaching and a quality physical education program is the greatest award I can receive. As I visit with other physical education instructors, I recognize that there are many great teachers who are working hard every day to advocate for our profession and provide the best program they possibly can. We all learn from one another.
I have been a presenter at many state, district, and national conventions. At my sessions I include teaching practices that I feel can help other educators in their classrooms or special programs. I've also been part of a mentor program where college students have come to observe my teaching and, with supervision, have eventually planned and carried out their own lessons. This experience helps them see successful teaching in practice, try out new ideas, and formulate future plans for their own classroom.
Many times, the greatest help that I give or receive comes from carrying on conversations with my colleagues. The willingness to unselfishly share ideas is one way that we benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.
"Mrs. Wagner is the best PE teacher because she has fun things for you to do and she is really nice and I like the exercise thing!" – Rylea, age 6
"Mrs. Wagner is the best PE teacher because she makes us strong and she lets us play in her gym." – Jack, age 6
"She makes us run and makes our heart beat really fast so we're really strong." - Anna Kate, age 5
"She helps us do stuff better. It's actually pretty fun. She's VERY good!" - Grant - age 5
"Mrs. Wagner is the best PE teacher because she makes us healthy and she makes us strong." – Natalie, age 6
"She tells us "Good job." – Reagan, age 5
"She gives us a stamp every time we have a "Daisy Day." - Nathan, age 5
"Mrs. Wagner teaches us hard things to do." – Sage, age 5
Field Days With a Flare – At this session I share ideas for thematic field days. I believe that themes add to the enjoyment of the day and always make it easier for me to think of new games and activities. In addition, it gives children something to identify with. I've done a variety of themes from a "Wizard of Oz" field day to "It's a Doggone Good Life" field day.
Get Off Your Seat and Move Your Feet – Lummi Stick Routines with Movement – This session takes participants from the traditional sit down approach to lummi stick activities to stand up routines that involve partners, groups, and movement.
Making Movement Magical – This session focuses on activities for early childhood students, including activities for number, letter, or color recognition.