How I Teach: Adam Metcalf

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 comes from a very passionate physical educator currently teaching in Illinois:

Name: Adam Metcalf
Where Are You From: Waterloo, Iowa
Where Do You Teach: The Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, Illinois
One word that best describes how you teach:

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

Apps: iDoceo, Team Shake, Spotify, BaM Video Delay, Keynote
Tools: Twitter, iPad Mini, iPhone, AppleTV
Software: Microsoft Excel, iMovie

What do your #physed classes look like?

My classes generally look like well-orchestrated chaos. My students are extremely bright and intuitive; I’ve found the most success through facilitating discovery through inquiry and autonomy. I incorporate elements of Teaching Games for Understanding and Sport Education models to provide a challenging and fun environment to get students more vested in their own learning.

I make it a priority to spend the time at the beginning of every school year getting the students used to routines, signals, and transitions (through games and/or cooperative tasks) so that we can make the most out of our class time together. I try to remain focused and concise with my instructional time in order to keep the students engaged and motivated to achieve the objective(s) of each day. My classes have somewhat of a rhythm to them; progressions usually incorporate 2-4 minutes of activity (purposeful practice, maximum participation) with intermittent breaks (10-30 seconds) to pose questions, leading to additional variations and/or unearthing new strategies.

What’s the most unique thing about your teaching?

The most unique thing is probably my ability to blend the art and science of teaching with the cultivation of relationships. It’s crucial to be inventive and adaptable when delivering content within the confines of space and time. Being prepared for the logistics of a lesson and being mindful how to meaningfully connect the content to the students’ lives is a challenging process that I find extremely motivating.

Above all else, time spent building relationships with students is the most meaningful thing that a teacher can do. It is essential to get to know your students and to show them that you are a real person. Periodically, I’ll share some personal stories and/or pictures of things I’ve been doing outside of school (playing drums, guitar, athletic endeavors, traveling, etc.) and I’m always amazed by how my students respond. I feel that because I am a person who has a variety of interests, I can more easily inspire students to step beyond their comfort zones to attempt something new. The most significant way to experience growth is through the development of perspective through diverse experiences and healthy risk-taking.

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

My dad continues to be the best teacher that I’ve ever had. Growing up, he would always tell me things like, “The way things are, aren’t necessarily the way they have to be.” and “In whatever career you choose, even if you’re a garbage man, be the best garbage man this world has ever seen.” Embedded in his words of advice are themes of perseverance, optimism, and the taking ownership of your destiny. These themes continue to shape my character and help me to be a more reflective teacher.

Where can people find you online?

Twitter: @MrMetcalfPE
Google+: +AdamMetcalfPE
YouTube: AveryCoonleyPE

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

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