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Name: Clayton Ellis
Describe one or two of the newest and/or most innovative activities that you do with your students in physical education?
Our district spent over $700,000 dollars across the district in order to adopt a new K-12 physical education curriculum. Each school was supplied with a great variety of lifelong activity equipment including canoes, golf, disc golf, and archery equipment. We also received numerous pieces of technological items like sound systems, cameras, I-Pods, projectors, Dance-Dance Revolution pads, heart rate monitors, pedometers, and PDA's. I utilize the PDA the most for taking attendance, assessing my students with skill related rubrics, and tracking their health related fitness scores through FITNESSGRAM. This tool enables me to print reports that can be sent home to parents. My students can also save copies in their own electronic portfolios. I also utilize technology through social networking sites to better communicate with my students I incorporate basic martial arts moves and self defense into all of my classes including swimming. Martial arts can be used as a warm-up, circuits, cooperative drills and games, or as a stand alone unit.
What is your particular expertise in regard to teaching physical education – what is the focus of your teaching?
Constant evolution keeps my lessons and classes fresh for my students. Change is constant, physical education programs are either in a state of progress or a state of decay. There is no such thing as status quo when it comes to teaching physical education. I have high expectations for all of my students and I relate the national standards and concepts to real life application so that my students appreciate a variety of physical activities. I achieve the highest level of engagement possible from my students by modifying and differentiating my instruction to meet the needs of all the students in my classes. I do this by using developmentally appropriate progressions from independent practice, lead up activities, small group modified games and drills. My classes are designed with the development of the brain in mind. The brain learns more efficiently when there is novelty involved, so by having a variety of activities that my students may not otherwise be introduced to, they are more likely to explore themselves and be successful.
What is your philosophy for physical education – what do you believe in?
I am a constant advocate for the importance of physical education in our schools and for the utilization of appropriate practices in order for all students to experience and to be successful in learning to be physically active for a lifetime. I believe every student can learn, however, I also realize that every student learns differently and at different rates. I am fortunate as a physical education teacher and coach to have the opportunity to motivate students and help students succeed that may not otherwise be motivated or successful in a regular classroom setting.
What does being a NASPE physical education Teacher of the Year mean to you?
I have always been an advocate for physical education and it is an incredible honor and humbling experience to have my efforts validated and recognized by my colleagues and other professionals that also value the importance of physical education for the development of all of our students.
What do you do to help other physical education teachers plan and implement exemplary programs?
I attend as many conferences and professional development opportunities as I can. I assisted with the adoption of our districts K-12 curriculum, which enabled me to work with the best and brightest teachers in our district. I have been the Teacher Leader for physical education in our district and I have served in various capacities as a member of the COAHPERD Board. These positions provided me with opportunities to share and plan for our annual workshops. I have also provided evening continuing education courses for teachers in our district, where we collaborated about the best practices of physical education and tried new activities. Last year I participated on a State Legislative Sub-Committee to re-write the Colorado health and physical education standards which were recently adopted last December. I have also mentored a number of pre-professional students and student teachers.
Any quotes from students about you as a physical education teacher, or the classes taught by you?
"In my many years in the classroom, I have rarely found the kind of teacher that has the same passion as Mr. Ellis. The fusion of passion for subject and student is an unsurpassable combination that takes learning from a task to an accomplishment with every stride—and this is exactly what Mr. Ellis possesses. Mr. Ellis pushed me to be what I never thought I could be, but, from the beginning he knew what I was capable of and was committed to showing me my own potential. Such character and commitment is hard to come by and that is why Mr. Ellis is an exceptional teacher." -Debbie, Former Student
"My name is Angie and I am currently in Mr. Ellis's basic swimming class. In his class I have learned how important it is to value physical activities. I have learned that it is important to have people skills and that you are going to use them in real life situations such as the work place. The manners that I practice in his class are important and how he teaches us that being healthy is also important for every situation that we may find ourselves in. The healthier you are, the slower your body ages. Mr. Ellis is a great teacher and I am glad I was able to have him as a teacher that cares about our health. He has made me see life from a different point of view. I value his class more than ever now that I know that being healthy is a very important vessel to life if you want to live longer. He pushes us to try as hard as we can to improve our way of living. If it wasn't for him, I would not have learned the different strokes involved with swimming. I have learned that I love swimming class more than I thought I would. I would not have found out that swimming is my favorite class despite how hard I have to work." -Angie, Student
"Mr. Ellis is a most kind and inspiring man. Just looking at him he has that look of eagles in his eyes. Every time I went to swim the 500 yard freestyle or any other event, Mr. Ellis had given me that sense of inspiration to swim every race with 110% effort. He always believed in me and believed that I could do my very best. Kindness is another trait of Mr. Ellis, he has always been kind and respectful toward every person that he has met. I thank him for all that he has done for the APS swim team and for me." -Sean, Athlete
"It is a privilege to be able to write this, as a sophomore student, who admires Mr. Ellis greatly. Over my course of time being in Mr. Ellis's swimming class, he demonstrates strong leadership skills, which he exercises to push his students to their fullest potential and exceed their expectations. He provides direction on wellness, teamwork, and life skills. Mr. Ellis sets an example on how to motivate others to achieve their maximum performance. Personally, it has been a pleasure knowing Mr. Ellis as both a teacher, and as an individual. I am a witness of his caring personality toward the students which he demonstrates by interacting with them, and his passion toward human body health maintenance as a whole. Mr. Ellis also establishes good service ethics where trust and a student to teacher relationship can be built by effectively using his listening skills and patience. Mr. Ellis is a teacher who is able to solve problems by combining reasoning and creativity. He implements strong sportsmanship to provide an enjoyment of change and is committed to life long learning. From attending Mr. Ellis' class, I have learned the true importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and have also gained the knowledge of how vital it is to educate it to others as well. It has exposed me to many different activities, such as swimming, so that I can enjoy maintaining a healthy lifestyle for many years to come." -Jasmine, Student
"Mr. Ellis is a great teacher. He makes you work hard and he is tough, but not for a bad reason. He is demanding in order to make you get better, to not let yourself be lazy and say that you "can't" do something. He does this to make you healthy and stronger physically and mentally. He is a wonderful teacher that makes you wish more teachers were like him. He is one of those teachers that are going to show something to learn in order to be better in life." -Guadalupe, Student
"Mr. Ellis is one of the best teachers and coaches you could possibly have. He makes sure that you push yourself to the limit. He makes sure that his students understand the importance of physical activity and if you practice hard to improve your fitness level, you will become a stronger person." -Daniel, Student
What are three of your "favorite" conference session titles that you have presented?
Hi-Yaaawwww! Incorporating Martial Arts into a General HS Physical Education Class. Use martial arts in a variety of ways to warm-up a class or use as a stand alone unit. Includes, Warm-ups, Circuits, Relays, Individual Skill Techniques, Self Defense
If you think a squat is a squat, you don't know SQUAT!! Re-energize your teaching with this multi-headed monster of a session that includes advocacy for your program, appropriate practice's, assessment, classroom management, curriculum development, Jump and Hoops for Heart at the HS level.
Catch a wave with a comprehensive swimming program This session focuses on the day to day operation of my high school swimming program. A demonstration of how I incorporate strokes, units, and water games in a variety of physical activities.
Other major teaching awards Clayton has received: