how i teach terri drain

How I Teach: Terri Drain

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 what of my biggest inspirations, an incredible teacher and just an overall great person:

terri drain

Name: Terri Drain
Where Are You From: I’m originally from Vancouver, Canada. Now I live in Danville, CA, USA
Where Do You Teach: Vintage Hills Elementary School, Pleasanton CA
One word that best describes how you teach: Purposeful

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

Lesson preparation and organization: Dropbox, Google Drive, Explain Everything, iMovie, iTunes, YouTube

Classroom: iPhone for playing music and for taking pictures and video; iPad/monitor for showing videos; wireless headset mic, Apple Watch, PA system for sound; Google Forms for assessment, record keeping, and praise letters

Professional Development: Twitter, Voxer, YouTube

Program promotion: Google Sites, YouTube, iMovie

What do your #physed classes look like?

My mission is to help all children move forwards on their physical literacy journeys. To accomplish this, I strive to create quality learning experiences designed to develop skill competency and provide high levels of social, cognitive and physical engagement.

Lessons follow a set routine where students start moving as soon as they arrive. My goal here is to warm up bodies and minds and get the children focused and ready to learn.

The instructional phase of the lesson begins with a brief discussion about WHAT is going to be learned, WHY it’s important, and HOW they will know they have learned. From this point on, it’s non-stop engagement with learning activities based on unpacked California or National PE Standards. As much as possible, I use activities where students move and learn at the same time. I also strive to embed assessment into instruction so that it’s a part of instruction and not something that happens separately.

Establishing a positive learning environment is top priority and I put my students in charge of making sure this happens. At the end of every lesson, time is set aside for students to recognize classmates who have made a positive contribution to the class. Awardees are randomly selected to give a “hand” to fellow students and provide evidence to justify their selection. Praise letters are then sent home via Google Forms and Autocrat.

What’s the most unique thing about your teaching?

Several years ago my principal directed me towards Rick Stiggins and Assessment FOR Learning. This was a game changer for me. I began to realize how assessment could be used as a powerful tool to motivate students, build confidence, enhance learning, and more. If you were to observe one of my classes now you’d see that it’s about providing students with a constant stream of feedback about their learning and opportunities to develop their skills as independent learners.

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

The best advice I’ve ever received was to get my National Board Certification. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – and the most rewarding!

Where can people find you online?

Twitter: @terridr99


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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