Monday, September 10, 2018

New School Week 1: The Zumba Observation

Note: Last year I did a #teach180 blog. Since I am at a new school this year, I know that there are times I will be in survival mode.  Instead of blogging daily, I have decided to blog weekly.  The entry below is week 1 of this school year.

This year marks my 26th year of teaching and my first (of hopefully many) year at Kent Place School.  Friday was the fourth day of school and students met in the Great Room to learn about PE requirements and PE exemptions.  Students can do morning PE and one of the options for morning PE is Zumba.  This must be a popular option, because many of the girls screamed in excitement when they were told that they would be doing one of the Zumba dances right then and there.  All three hundred and five girls stood and about a dozen of them went to the front of the room and showed how to do the Zumba routine.  Many girls were moving and waving their hands from where they were standing.  However, I noticed that very few, if any, of the ninth grade students were participating.  In fact, they seemed quite uncomfortable about the whole thing.  This reminded me of how classrooms can be passive for many students.  A few are very excited about learning or sharing what they know and can do.  Some watch from the sidelines and particpate minimally.  Others watch in uncomfortable silence, not wanting to particpate for fear of making a mistake and looking stupid in front of their peers and the teacher.  This is clearly not what I want for the students in my classroom, a primarily passive environment.

Note: Thanks to @aliceaspinall for the image here. This is what I plan to have my classroom look like this year.

But the Zumba PE lesson didn't end there.  The twelve students that were doing Zumba in the middle of the room spread around the room, forming small groups.  They were in the center of each group and pulled other students in to form a circle of studnets about two or three deep around them.  As I looked around the room, I realized that about 90% or more of the students were actively particpating
and having fun!  Were they all getting the moves down perfectly?  Absolutely not.  Where the girls trying, risking, making mistakes, making improvements, helping each other and having a blast?  Most definitely.  This is what I want my classroom to be like.  In order for it to happen, I need to help my students know that taking risks and making mistakes is a part of learning.  I also need to figure out who my "Zumba leaders" are - those students who have a solid understanding of what is going on and use them as experts.  My responsibility at that point would be to work with the 10% that are on the perimeter of particpating.

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