How I Teach Stephanie Sandino

How I Teach: Stephanie Sandino

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 a motivated Californian teacher that I got to hang out with at the 2016 Elementary Physical Education Workshop:

How I Teach Stephanie Sandino

Name: Stephanie Sandino
Where Are You From: A native “Californian!” I am originally from West Covina, CA but currently reside in Lake Elsinore, CA
Where Do You Teach: Robert O. Townsend Junior High School – Chino Hills, CA
One word that best describes how you teach: Exploratively!

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

Social Media/Professional Development: Twitter, Voxer, Podcasts, YouTube

Plan, Organize & Create: Google Apps/Microsoft Apps, Canva, Comic Life, Weebly, Trello, Clone Camera

Lesson in Motion: Easy First Aid, Apple Music, Hudl Technique, Paper

On the Go Gadgets: MacBook Pro, iPad Mini 4/ iPhone, UE Boom speaker

What do your #physed classes look like?

I would have to describe my PhysEd classes as organized chaos, innovative and inquiry based! My classes range from about 40-55 seventh and eighth grade students whom I see 5 days a week for about 50 minutes (total teaching time of 30-35 minutes once students dress in and out).

You’ll be seeing students delve into the what, why and how of the lesson by honing in on a problem, question or outcome. Throughout the lesson students come up with strategies or tools as they engage in small sided game-like situations/layers, write on portable mini whiteboards, and interact with the members on their team. With each and every layer students encounter a combination of successes and failures which help them gauge where they are (I try to instill it’s okay to FAIL in my class because it leads to frequent attempts in learning!). Due to large class sizes you’ll find me making my way around the small groups to ask them questions, show them video footage, observe relationships/chemistry, capture teachable moments, and get to know my students a little better.

You’ll also be hearing music blast out of my mini speaker 90% of the time as it helps engage and connect me to my students. There’s ton of variety when it comes to just about everything, because, like my students monotony bores me as well! More often than not, I am introducing a new activity that students most likely don’t know about or spicing up an aspect of class. Frequently, students are asked to exercise their autonomy in some way shape or form so that they feel as they are taking part in their learning. Each lesson is an opportunity for students to lay down yet another stepping stone as they adventure towards finding their red rubber ball.

What’s the most unique thing about your teaching?

I would say one unique thing about my teaching is my reflection process. Every day after school I dedicate time to writing in my reflection book where I write anything and everything that happened in every period of the school day. I dump my thoughts out on what worked, what didn’t work, documentation of a student, what I could do better, what needs to change in my practice or why something might have happened. Now in my fourth year of teaching, it has been awesome to look back at my last 3 reflection books and brush up on older activities that were filled with triumphs and challenges. Although there’s reflection and actions being made during/after the lesson, there’s something about unleashing my thoughts with a pen and paper that has been quite meaningful to me. It is a time and place where my strengths and weaknesses become very apparent to me which is always humbling for an educator.

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

Kevin Carroll’s “Rules of the Red Rubber Ball”:

  1. Commit to it;
  2. Seek out encouragers;
  3. Work out your creative muscle;
  4. Prepare to shine;
  5. Speak up;
  6. Expect the unexpected;
  7. Maximize the day

Upon reading Kevin Carroll’s book I fell in love with the idea of the “red rubber ball” and have since then adapted it into my teaching philosophy. One of my key roles as a physical educator is to help youth find their red rubber ball. At the elementary level, students come into contact with the staple red rubber ball on the playground. As the student develops and gains experience that red rubber ball begins to transform into their likes/interests. It can take the shape of a soccer ball, volleyball, baseball, football, tennis ball, lacrosse ball, rugby ball, running shoe, yoga mat, swimming cap, bike, dance shoe, skateboard and the list can go on and on. Ultimately, the student will morph their red rubber ball into something they will want to pursue for a lifetime. It’s one of my all time favorite quick reads as it goes hand in hand with molding students into lifelong movers and physical literacy. Check it out here!

Words from my Cooperating Teacher:

During my clinical practice my cooperating teacher had a huge impact on me and has forever made an imprint in my teaching career. I remember her saying that you need to “find your own style” and although that sounds simple or perhaps obvious it has always stuck with me. I can’t be like anyone else but me. There is a constant desire to know more, learn more and grow more as a physical educator and a human being.

Where can people find you online?


Voxer: smsandino (I also contribute to


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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