How I Teach: Nick Spencer
by Joey Feith
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 an awesome physical educator from Colorado:
Name: Nick Spencer
Where Are You From: Littleton, Colorado (South Denver)
Where Do You Teach: Wheeling Elementary School
One word that best describes how you teach: Limitless
What apps/tools/resources can’t you live without?
iDoceo – This app allows for me quickly organize my data I have collected. I can then take pictures and videos of students’ performance and send them to the students or their families. I also use this app to maximize the communication channels with my students and parents including: important events coming up in PE, medical excuse notes, information for students and to increase their excitement for upcoming learnings. It also helps to maintain my seating charts, digital badges, random picker, and pin board for important information.
iPod Touch with Airplay – I can play music wirelessly through the sound system in the gym and still be mobile and effective the entire time. I can change songs or stop music on a dime when I need to redirect a class during skill development activities. This also allows for me to display video through my Apple TV and projector.
What do your #physed classes look like?
When I spend time to plan the various activities and units of study I expect to teach, I really try to think outside the box. I want to give my students every opportunity to discover a passion for movement. My students experience different activities and move towards being able to accomplish the various grade level outcomes. No activity is off limits in my class, unless it is unsafe for students. If a student approaches me and asks if we can learn how to play a specific game that we have never tried, I research the activity. If the activity will help my students reach the grade level outcomes, I will learn it and add the activities to my lesson plans. I tell my students that I am not trying to build professional athletes, but allow for each of them to experience a variety of ways to move. Thus, letting them decide for themselves what they enjoy doing and can continue additional growth and development on their own.
If you were to step into my classroom, you might see Fit Beatz Drumming. Or students participating in a Challenge-By-Choice day in various climbing or balance activities that challenge their own individual level of ability. The students can voice their thoughts, opinions and be recognized through “Tweeting” about their experiences throughout their physical education class Twitter account @Wheeling_PE. You will also see students learning about health education through manipulative and body movement without losing their physical activity time. Many times, I am the facilitator while my students are leading the trail of their own learning. The students teach each other through their own experiences they have just encountered. Students really take ownership when they get to become the teacher of their own class. I ask my students to be a risk taker each day, therefore, my classroom will never become boring. I do not teach the exact same activities from year to year such as when it is January, and in January we do basketball.
What is new and exciting? What will help benefit my students the most in their lives? These are two of many questions I ask myself daily when planning for my students. They deserve the best of me, and I will give them the best experience I can.
What’s the most unique thing about your teaching?
I am a huge fan of Obstacle Course Racing. I have a built a kid’s size Obstacle Course for one of my recurring Field Day stations. My students know that I compete in a few races each year and they would ask me what it was like. I decided to build one for them to experience. In their course, you might see Vertical Walls, Wood A-Frame, Spear Throw, A-Frame Cargo Net, Tire Flips, Unbalanced Balance Beams, Danger Wire Crawls, and a Tire Run.
What’s the best teaching advice you’ve ever received?
I was once told that each child we encounter are truly unique individuals. We, as teachers, need to embrace and celebrate those differences. When we get to know our students on a personal level, it will help deepen relationships and allow for trust to grow even when a child feels like they can never trust anyone with all the hurt they may have experienced. Taking a second to tell a child Happy Birthday on their special day, handwriting a note and sending it to their place of residence to tell their family of an amazing act they performed in class or sitting down during your time to have lunch with a student will go a long way. The little extra we do every day to make a positive connection with our students may be the biggest impact on their lives; in fact, bigger than teaching the students any manipulative skill or movement skill. To prove that someone cares about them and to be there for them day in and day out, that is the biggest lasting impression we can make. Physical activity in our classrooms is the vessel we use to discover these unique individuals.
Where can people find you online?
January 11, 2020
July 27, 2018
July 20, 2018