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Name: Amy Gagnon
Describe one or two of the newest and/or most innovative activities that you do with your students in physical education?
The newest program I've established has been a Developmental PE class. This class targets my lower performing students in PE that need that extra help but are not so low that they qualify for adapted physical education. I buddy up each "little buddy" in grades K-2 with an older Big Buddy in grades 4 or 5. The Little Buddies benefit from an extra PE class and the Big Buddies benefit from role modeling, confidence and self esteem building. The pace of the class goes much slower and we rehearse and practice the upcoming lessons. This new program has worked wonders for us all!
What is your particular expertise in regard to teaching physical education – what is the focus of your teaching?
I feel I focus most of my teaching on building a positive classroom environment. All of the students are eager to try and do their best because we make our class and the activities fun, safe, and worry free. From the language I use with my students, to our relationships with each other, my students put forth a lot effort each day because they know their classmates and I will be supporting them and having fun.
What is your philosophy for physical education – what do you believe in?
My philosophy for teaching elementary physical education is to teach students how much fun it is to move! I do not emphasize team sports but more so emphasize how many different activities are out there that are so much fun to enjoy! The elementary PE years are for learning all the different ways we can move our bodies and stay healthy. Sports are not for all kids but all kids love to run and jump and play!
What does being a NASPE physical education Teacher of the Year mean to you?
Having gone through this incredible honor has been quite humbling and overwhelming all at once. It is an honor that is so sacred and special to me because teaching is such a passionate part of my life. Each and every day I go into work and give so much to the students and in turn, they produce incredible work. I feel it is a win-win situation for both the students and me! Working with the other Teachers of the Year has also been wonderful. We all share the same passion, virtues, values and philosophies. It's a warm and wonderful feeling to be part of the best profession in the world and share it with the best students, staff, families and professionals around!
What do you do to help other physical education teachers plan and implement exemplary programs?
I enjoy talking with other professionals whether they be PE teachers or any other type of teacher. It is important to get the word out that we are not just rolling out balls and playing games. We are building honest, strong, healthy citizens of the world. Physical education is so much more than games and fitness. Social skills, communication, compromise and life skills are learned each day in our lessons. Besides talking to other teachers, I regularly present at conferences to share what parts of my teaching work best for me. I learned from so many other professionals and I feel it's important to continue to pay it forward.
Any quotes from students about you as a physical education teacher, or the classes taught by you?
"Miss Gagnon has the energy of a cheetah!"
"Ms. Gagnon is all about team work and has a positive attitude. She encourages us on and wants us to do our best."
"A teacher that allows us to be successful at our own level."
What are three of your "favorite" conference session titles that you have presented?
"Body Management with Elementary" – Material presented taught professionals how to use the ropes, cargo nets, climbing walls, spring boards, balance beams and other type equipment. Fitness activities and independent skills were also presented.
"Scarf Juggling and Classroom Management Teaching Strategies" – This presentation used scarf juggling as a means to teach students patterning. Positive teaching strategies to get students into routines, transitions, manners and effective use of class time were modeled.
"Long Distance Running with Early Elementary" – Map Runs were discussed as a means of implementing interdisciplinary techniques from the classroom in to the gymnasium.
Other major teaching awards Amy has received: