Demo Slam of the Day: How I Teach Pushups

Authors Note: The Demo Slam is a quick way to share an instructional tip, strategy, or tool. Its origins are outside of the PE world, but I do think Collin Brooks and I may be responsible for popularizing it with the PE community at SHAPE America National Convention in Seattle in 2015. The purpose is to crowdsource ideas quickly so think of it as a tip of the day. 3-2-1-SLAM!

I absolutely LOVE teaching students how to do pushups. It seems pretty basic, but it’s something I’m very mindful and passionate about because…I was terrible at them! As an adult, I now know why. I was always the tallest or second tallest person in my class and I have ridiculously long arms for my height. In the sports world, we hear it referred to as wing span. Well, I’m 6’1 and my wing span is about 6’9. So the point is, pushups (and pull-ups…and bench press) were always incredibly difficult for me and I never understood why. It was embarrassing year after year to be put on display during fitness testing (my experience was not a model Physical Education program) and feeling inadequate as a learner and athlete. I never once successfully did a pull-up in K-12 physical education. I share this story with my elementary students every year when teaching pushups. Here is my current thinking around them.

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Things I Think the Pandemic Taught Me: Rethinking When Students are Ready for Partners

Authors Note: This set of microblogs will cover a wide variety of instructional practices that the pandemic has either made me think about them differently or has led me to question them all together. The working title of the series is “Things I Think” because they are based on my perceptions and experiences and are subject to change. These posts should be looked at in the context of reflecting on teaching elementary physical education in person during the pandemic from January 2021 – June 2022.

“I will know you’re ready when you’re elbow to elbow with a partner in 5…4…3…”

“How quickly can you demonstrate jumping jacks with a group of 3?”

“Let’s play a game! When I say GO, see if you can stand toe to toe with a partner before I stop the music…GO!”

Teaching students to find a partner or a group quickly and efficiently is a part of my DNA as a physical educator and it probably is for you too. But, what happens when you can no longer teach that way? Suddenly, you have to teach differently. I’m not talking about teaching by distance learning either. I’m talking about teaching in person with individual learning spaces marked where students need to stay at all times. This was my reality when teaching from January 2021-June 2021. 

It forced me to think differently.

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The Self-Care Myth: Why I Don’t Like the Term “Work/Life Balance” and You Shouldn’t Either

Greetings fellow Physical Education friends! It has been a while, hasn’t it? I suppose not much has changed–well, other than the global pandemic that completely turned education and schools upside down. As I’m sitting here by myself on Day 3 of my own isolation–and honestly being a little surprised that it took this long for COVID-19 to finally get its grip on me, I started to finally go through my notes of all the things over the past couple of years I’ve wanted to talk about and share. One of the best things about maintaining this website is the ability to go back and look at the last 10 years as a time capsule. I appreciate reading the About Us section on the website and one key nugget in particular:

Everyone who contributes is a volunteer who does so at their own pace and their own time.  Additionally, much of what we write or organize are things that are very personal to us.  We do not operate by deadlines or through traditional norms.

Ain’t that the truth? Well anyway, let’s talk about self-care a little bit, shall we?

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