Hurricane Harvey

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” -Carl Jung

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Friday, August 25, 2017, as a category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph.  For the next several days the storm pounded the Texas coast and dropped an estimated 11 trillion tons of water on Texas.  The result, according to AccuWeather.com, was about 51 inches of rain in some places, fifty-eight counties have been declared disaster areas, there have been at least 3,400 water rescues, 30,000 people are displaced, and more than 215,000 students are out of school.  

I have lived in Houston for 20 years and have been through several hurricanes, tropical storms and the floods that follow, but I have never seen devastation like this.  It’s heartbreaking, to say the least, to see families helplessly watch as the flood waters quickly rise and eventually overtake their homes to leave them with nothing.  We all work very hard for our “things,” but sometime we are forced to prioritize our lives, whether we are ready for it or not.  The devastation is horrific, but in the midst of the darkness, we are also able to see what humanity really looks like.  Story after story of strangers helping strangers, neighbors coming together to offer assistance, and people from all over the country coming to Houston, sometimes driving all night, just to help.  The response has been overwhelming and has helped me to realize that we are going to be OK.

On a personal note, I have had many people via social media ask me about my family’s well-being.  I can’t express enough how much that means to me.  I am so grateful to be a part of such a loving network of educators.  My family and I are safe and dry.  We had a little damage to our roof, but that’s about it.  We have been fortunate enough to have been able to help out at our church and around the community.  

But the recovery is just beginning and many families will be looking to their local schools as a safe haven for their community.  The start date for students in Houston ISD has been postponed until Monday, September 11, and they are still assessing the more than 285 schools in the district.  Houston ISD is the 7th largest district in the country. The district has more than 285 schools and serves over 200,000 students.  In the next few days, we will have a better understanding about the overall damage to our schools.  

So, what can we do to help?  I have received many messages from teachers around the country asking what they can do for the Houston area.  I have highlighted a few options below,  and also included a link to a more comprehensive list from NPR.

“Here’s How You Can Help People Affected By Harvey” from NPR

    1. The Greater Houston Community Foundation established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
    2. J.J. Watt is an NFL  football player for the Houston Texans.  He decided to raise more for Houston and set a goal of $200,000.  The response has been amazing.  The current total is more that 18 million dollars from about 170,000 donors.  Click here to donate to J.J. Watt’s  You Caring campaign.
    3. Houston ISD is collecting school supplies.  Click here if you would like to donate school supplies,  Houston ISD
    4. Adopt-a-Gym is a grassroots program founded by Kevin McGrath,  that will help match up school in need with schools willing to help.  You can read more about this option below.
    5. I am also willing to personally deliver gift cards, supplies and offer any other assistance if needed.  Please email me, physednow@gmail.com

 

 

Adopt-a-Gym

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Listen to the Global PhysEd Voxcast featuring Kevin McGrath, Founder of Adopt-a-Gym by clicking on the link below.

Link to Adopt-a-Gym podcast

This summer, I was fortunate enough to meet Kevin McGrath at the PE Institute.  He was talking about Adopt-a-Gym and I was very interested in the potential.  Kevin describes the program as a fundraiser by kids and for kids, where a school raises funds to purchase physical education equipment for another school that is short on resources to purchase adequate equipment.  Funds are raised through a fun fitness event such as fun runs, dance-a-thons and other creative active events.  A school can register as a donor school, pledging to run an event, or as a recipient school in need of equipment.  Here is the website for more details, https://adoptagym.wordpress.com/

Take these 3 easy steps if you would like to Adopt-a-Gym:

  1. Sign-up as a donor school at https://adoptagym.wordpress.com/.
  2. You will receive an email from Kevin McGrath with more details and examples of events.
  3. Talk to your principal, PTA, and colleagues about the prospect of running an Adopt-a-Gym event at your school.

We are also setting up an Adopt-a-Gym Voxer chat if you’d like to connect with other potential donors and recipients.  This will also be a great way to ask questions and share ideas.  Join the chat by clicking here.  

For the next few weeks, we will be signing up schools in the Houston area to be a part of this program.  If you would like to help, please consider Adopt-a-Gym.  This is a decentralized program that allows teachers and schools to directly help those in need.  The #PhysEd community is amazing and I truly feel blessed to be a part of it.  As we all know, PE is not always on the top of the priority list at some schools.  Adopt-a-Gym makes sure that these vital programs are not left out.  Our kids need us and together we can make sure that every student has the equipment needed for a quality physical education experience.  

Hurricane Harvey has forced us to prioritize our lives, but it will not define us.  We are down, but together we will become stronger!

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The 9-Interview Itch: Deciding on My Next Physical Education Position

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I could no longer afford to keep teaching at my current school.  I knew that on July 1st my rent was going to increase.  I did not have enough money saved to buy a home yet and after eleven years of teaching, I was unhappy with my salary.  I had started teaching in my former school system in 2006 and was preparing to go into year twelve on salary step number eight.  I was frustrated.

“Ms. Tucker, you’re not going anywhere” my colleague said to me when I expressed my desire to leave my former school over a year ago.  But on July 11th, I signed a contract to teach physical education at a new school in a new county after having spent 10 years at my former elementary school.  I’m excited for the change but I have to admit, deciding on a new position had its share of challenges.  My journey to a new school began with something I call “The 9-Interview Itch”…nine interviews in the span of five months.

It started with an interview at an international school in DC, then on to an interview with Howard County Public Schools’ PE Department, followed by an interview with Montgomery County Public Schools’ PE Department, then an interview in my former county, PGCPS, then on to three interviews at schools in DCPS and back to two more interviews with schools in Howard County.  In each interview, I talked about positive behavior intervention and supports, classroom management, assessment in physical education, establishing a rapport with students, writing curriculum, connecting with parents and building relationships with the outside community.  I found that each school system was vastly different in expectations, procedures, and quality of support offered to its educators.

I presented my best self with every interviewer.  I learned that in the past 11 years, I had become more than an elementary physical education teacher.  I had become a mentor, problem solver, advocate, coach, leader, professional development facilitator, cheerleader, and change-maker.  I am going to be honest, realizing that I wouldn’t be able to support myself financially on my current salary was the motivating factor.  It pushed me to set up interviews in the first place.  But, each interview was well worth it.  I built the confidence I needed to take on the challenge of teaching some place new.

Ultimately, I decided on Howard County Public Schools as the best fit.  I felt that my experiences and passion for quality instruction were best suited there.  If anything, the 9-Interview Itch lit a fire under me and forced me to ask two questions, “What’s next in your career?” Where do you think you can make the most impact as an educator?” As teachers we are constantly placing our students’ needs first.  I get that.  However, it is okay to question our salary, current position and overall motivation in our careers and make the decisions that also best support us.

 

 

 

Connecting the Dots: A Guest Blog Series

During our two keynotes at the 2017 National PE and School Sport Institute, we continually touched on the idea of community.  As Collin Brooks stated in One Word, One Community:

This profession is a diverse landscape filled with individuals who have strengths that we must embrace.  Physical education is not an individual sport.  By leveraging our collective strengths we can accomplish the unthinkable…the unattainable…we can shift the paradigm.

The opportunity to share our voice through blogging is something that has had a great impact on the professional growth of all of us at PHYSEDagogy.  While each of us has a goal this year to blog more, we feel we are not the only ones with something important to say.  We’d like to introduce you to Connecting the Dots: A Guest Blog Series.

Connecting the Dots is about empowering fellow physical educators with an opportunity to share their voice with the greater physical education community through the reach of the PHYSEDagogy website. This is not a one and done guest blog post on a selected topic.  This is an opportunity for short term guest authorship with no limit to the quantity of blog posts an author contributes.  Collaboration is welcomed and blog topics are completely open ended as long as they fit within the themes of the PHYSEDagogy website, which are:

1. Teaching and Learning
2. Assessment and Grading
3. Classroom Management
4. Social Justice
5. Technology
6. Advocacy

Our first team of guest bloggers come from all over the United States.  Over the next few months you will be reading more from them, but for now, we want to proudly introduce the following educators:

Betsey Caldwell, Massachusetts | A proud graduate of the Physical Education Teacher Education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Betsey Caldwell is currently a K-8 health and physical education teacher in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts recently moving back to Massachusetts from Vermont. Betsey has been active professionally her entire career and thanks her mentors and professors for instilling the passion of giving back to the health and physical education community. Betsey most recently served as the Past President of SHAPE Vermont and found great JOY in the journey of #playingitforward, sharing best practices, modeling exceptional teaching, and mentoring our present and future professional leaders. She is passionate about advocacy, technology, leadership, collaboration and changing how the world sees physical education in our schools.


Mike Morris, North Carolina | Mike Morris is dynamic elementary physical education teacher in Rocky Mount, North Carolina where he currently teaches at Baskerville Elementary School and Red Oak Elementary School. His passion includes sharing ideas with others, creating new and innovative physical education activities, and collaborating with content area teachers to find ways to best teach struggling students through movement. Mike is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Stephanie Sandino, California | Stephanie Sandino is a Physical Education Teacher at Robert O. Townsend Junior High School in Chino Hills, CA. All of her studies including her Bachelor of Science, Single Subject teaching credential and Master’s of Science were completed at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Prior to transitioning into the middle school role, she taught at an elementary school for 3 years which has given her a good base in the direction she would like to take her 7th and 8th grade students. She’s an active member in the #physed community as a moderator for the #ESPEchat team, EPEW Committee Member and a volunteer instructional coach for the H-PEC team. Stephanie is a big believer in helping youth find their red rubber ball. Every student beginning their journey with a staple red rubber ball and helping them morph it with learning experiences- ultimately, ending up with something that they love to do and keeps them moving for a lifetime!


Kennedra Tucker, Maryland | Kennedra Tucker is a 12-year veteran Physical Education Teacher. She has taught at the elementary level in Prince George’s County Public Schools for the past 11 years and will be moving on to teaching middle school in Howard County Public Schools this year. Kennedra is a graduate of McDaniel College and the California University of Pennsylvania. Fingers crossed, she will be Nationally Board Certified in December. She is currently the President Elect of MAHPERD (Maryland Association of Health, Recreation and Dance). She presents regularly on Teaching PE in limited space, culturally responsive PE & using movement & mindfulness to engage classroom learners. Kennedra is also a certified fitness instructor and teaches dance fitness and cardio kickboxing classes at Bowie State University. She has a passion for helping people of all ages become more confident movers who use exercise to improve their quality of life.


Chris Walker, North Carolina | Chris Walker is a graduate of The University of South Carolina Upstate (formerly known as USC-Spartanburg. A teacher of 21 years at Hillsborough Elementary School, he is the lead elementary physical educator in Orange County Schools. He is the current president of the North Carolina Physical Education Association (NCPEA). He has presented all over the state of North Carolina doing PD for over 20 years and is now an OPEN national trainer. His passion is helping teachers to grow as professionals and leading by example.