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Name: Biki-Ray Mitchell
Our department turned a classroom into a "PE Fitness Lab" that can accommodate forty+ students. It has 20 stationary cardio bikes with built-in odometers for measuring heart rates, distances, times, and calories burned. The other half of the room has a 4-station Wii component that engages 16 students in a variety of four member Wii team sports like tennis, rowing, volleyball, and dancing. Michael Jackson's "Experience" dance Wii is also projected on a Promethean Board, to allow four more students a rhythmic activity. Additional equipment like Yoga mats, Pilate's balls, weighted bars, and exer-tubings are utilized along one wall to offer a wide variety of fitness work outs for our students. As they rotate through the various lab stations, our students are able to work within their individual heart rate zones, differentiate their activities, and improve each component of fitness. By rotating classes through the lab, especially during inclement weather days, we are also able to decrease the number of students in the main gym, which improves the quality of Physical Education offerings that we can deliver.
Another activity that I love teaching is our fresh-water fishing unit because it promotes an appreciation for the environment and our state park systems while covering many of Virginia's science, physical education, and health SOLs. This comprehensive curriculum, coordinated with the VA Department of Games and Inland Fisheries, includes a wide variety of topics from environmental care and conservation, fresh-water species and their habitats, first aid and sun protection, to many angling skills that culminate in a "catch-and-release" experience at a local state park. By the end of this unit, students are self-sufficient anglers and can line and bait their own "outfit," identify and handle their own catch safely, and leave their environment better than when they entered it. By incorporating several "fitness moments" throughout each lesson, students remain active and all 6 NASPE standards are met.
My particular expertise seems to change with the needs of my students. Presently, I am interested in delivering quality bike instruction to offset the high adolescent injury statistics and to encourage them to seek this activity outside of class. I also introduce them to a variety of fun "backyard" activities that will encourage them to get out of the house and be active, without needing a lot of equipment or adult supervision. Some of these activities include badminton, volleyball, Bocceball, ladder golf, one-bin disc golf, Can-Jam, and a few ultimate field games like Gatorball, Frisbee, and Pin Soccer. My focus is on improving my student's components of fitness levels, guiding them towards making better nutrition choices, and helping to raise up a generation of students that will engage in community service long after leaving my classroom.
My department requires all PE students to participate in five different community service projects throughout the school year. We call this our "Helping Hands" project and promote several collection drives through the PE classes. Our students have participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree, food banks, animal rescue, eye glasses for Africa, winter coats for the homeless, and a book collection for a local children's cancer center. It's wonderful seeing the many other service projects that the students come up with on their own. Students making a difference, one hand at a time, is a great focus and such hope for the future.
I believe in making it meaningful each and every class for each and every student. Every PE class should have 100% participation where there are no "perimeter" or "spectator" students. My philosophy does not allow me to let students pick their own partners or groups. Students should be assigned a multitude of support groupings from fitness partners, 'triad' groups, and squad lines, to health room 'tablemates.' Groups should then be changed often throughout the year to attain diversity and inclusion. This philosophy assures that no student will be overlooked, left out, or ever stressed about being chosen last. Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life, sums it up best when he said, "Because kids don't care how much you know till they know how much you care."
However flattering it is to be recognized by others who share the vision of what quality Physical Education should be, this award has made me feel appreciative of what others have done for our profession. It also charges me with some responsibility for helping move our profession forward. Being a TOY has helped me to realize the importance of sharing what works in my classroom with others and it has increased my commitment to mentoring new, emerging professionals.
I have always been involved in curriculum writing for my school system (Henrico Co. Public Schools) and presenting at our county-wide teacher in-services and the VA state conferences to promote "best practices" for our profession. My county has recently received a PEP grant and I am a part of its leadership team to update our scope and sequence curriculum and to present the "Five for Life" activities to my colleagues. I am also a VCU Clinical Faculty and work with student interns during their senior clinical experience. All of these activities help other professionals plan and implement quality PE programs.
Besides our annual 7th grade field trip to Washington DC, the year book signing activities at the end of the school year hold some of my favorite memories. I always have students sign my year book while I sign theirs, and here are some of their most recent writings, unedited, of course:
~ "Mrs. Mitchell! You have taught me so much & i am so lucky to have u as a teacher. i will never forget you! Love, Shelby P.S. i will never do drugs & wear spf 30 everyday! Yea baby!"
~ "Mrs. Mitchell!! You were the best teacher ever. You taught me so much over the year. At first I didn't want to learn it but then I am so happy I did. I you" Love, Maddy
~ "Mrs. Mitchell, Thank you so much for everything you have done this year. You have made Gym interesting, exciting, and fun: Thanks :)" Kelsey
~ "Hey Mrs. Mitchell, I had a great time in all of your classes. I will remember all of your safety tips and everything you taught me. Maybe I'll c you over the summer." ~ Brandon
~ "Hey Mrs. Mitchell, I'm so glad to have been in your PE class! It was really fun, you're a great teacher. You're soooo cool!! You rock! I'll miss you a lot!! Have an extraordinary summer!! Love, RD"
AND THE BEST ONE FOR LAST:
~ thank you Mrs. Mitchell for SAVING MY LIFE! Daly
"Quality PE Programs" at the VA state Principal's Conferences where I presented exemplary PE program ideas and helped over 100 principals understand the vision of what quality PE should be.
"Warm-Up with Games and Cool Down with YOGA" at a PE county in-service that introduced new ways to add instant cardiorespiratory activities and YOGA stretches to physical education classes.
"Tools for Teaching, Classroom Management Strategies, and 21st Century Mentoring" for an HCPS staff development presentation that gave guidelines for organizing and monitoring classrooms.