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How I Teach: Sarah Gietschier-Hartman

The more I teach, the more I realize how lucky I am to be a part of the #physed community. Every day, I find myself being inspired and wowed by this group of amazing teachers from around the world. That’s why I’ve decided to take a second each week and highlight one of these incredible educators. This week’s post is by another great teacher from the USA:

Name: Sarah Gietschier-Hartman (Gietschier rhymes with itchier!)
Where Are You From: St. Louis, Missouri (United States)
Where Do You Teach: Wydown Middle School in Clayton, Missouri
One word that best describes how you teach:
Observantly

What apps/tools/resources can’t you live without?

I can’t live without my MacBook, iPhone, iPhone stylus, Chromebook, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and my new obsessions, Twitter and TweetDeck.

All of the teachers in my school district are supplied with MacBooks. I use my iPhone to take attendance in each class and use my stylus when I’m wearing gloves on chilly days. My Chromebook is like the Usain Bolt of computers. It turns on and off in about 9.63 seconds and is even faster at loading pages on the internet. I also work in a Google-friendly district, so I use Google Drive and Calendar all the time. I even have a specific calendar set-up just for my lessons/activities. I started using Twitter just a week ago and am in love with the professional development opportunities. I’m slowly becoming a #pegeek.

I am a very artistic and visual person, so even though technology may be easier to use when creating things, I tend to create my own stuff with a pen/paper. I mainly use technology as a means to find new activities, but occasionally I use the TeamShake and FitnessTrainer apps.

So what websites do I frequent for #physed stuff? NASPE-Talk, PE Scholar, ThePhysicalEducator.com, ParticipACTION, YouTube, and Pinterest.

What do your #physed classes look like?

This quarter I teach one 6th grade class (boys and girls), two 7th grade classes (girls only), and one 8th grade class (girls only). Some of my classes meet in classrooms and others meet in a wide-open space by the cafeteria called Main Street. I try to take attendance and give my students instruction quickly each day, so they have enough time to play in class.

My classes are fun, fast, and fresh! Each day looks different than the day before!

My teaching style is enthusiastic. I am definitely a warm/strict teacher, someone who is caring, funny, warm, concerned, and nurturing, as well as by the book, relentless, and sometimes inflexible. I try to create a strong classroom culture and hope to expose my students to as many activities as possible.

What’s the most unique thing about your teaching?

An observer would notice that my classes walk A LOT. My school is currently under construction and this year we do not have a gym or field! A local college seminary has been kind enough to let us use their field (it’s huge!) and gym, but the facilities are 1/2 mile away. It takes about 10 minutes to walk a class of 32 students to the field. My classes are 40 minutes in length, so by the time a class has walked to and from the field, the students are left with 15-20 minutes of activity time. Luckily, I see my students each day! (In a given week, I can walk at least 25 miles!)

My department (there are four of us) has thought of many creative, small-space activities this year and has been really great at dealing with our challenging situation. Sometimes our students get confused about what we are doing… “Are we going to the gym today?” “Do we need tennis shoes?” “Are we going for a walk?” … so one of my co-teachers, Julie Connor, decided to start writing a brief message for our students … “We are going to the gym!” She and I share the board and update it each morning.

When it’s warm outside, we go the field to play flag football, ultimate Frisbee, disc golf, soccer, speedball, lacrosse, and kickball. At the gym we are unable to play any net games or sports that may ruin the floor (badminton, bowling, floor hockey, pickleball, and volleyball), so our students have recently been playing basketball and indoor soccer. At school we have two main areas for activities, the space in the cafeteria (Main Street) and a carpeted area we call the Atrium. This year I have used Main Street to play GaGa (my favorite game!), teach my students how to fence with swimming noodles (Noodle Fencing!), and will play pillow polo this week. We mainly use the Atrium for workout videos, but this week we’re teaching a Rec Games unit that includes 4 square, hula hooping, table tennis, Dance Dance Revolution, skee ball, washers, bean bag toss, foosball, ladder ball, cup stacking, and a giant Connect Four game.

Teaching in a different place each day has taught me to be fast on my feet and flexible…even more than the typical PE teacher has to be!

What’s the best teaching advice you’ve ever received?

Always answer this question while you’re teaching: How would I feel if someone walked in and observed the students right now?

Energize, Individualize, Funnersize, and Appropriatize Your Program.

Keep your energy level high. Enthusiasm is catching.

(All of this advice was given to me by Howie Weiss.)

Where can people find you online?

On Twitter or on Pinterest

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Joey Feith is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

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