My ten days of observation at the Miller Place School District, is an experience I will never forget. Ms. Jen Rodriguez and Mr. Jeff Johnson have given me an eye opening experience that has left me excited to enter the profession of physical education. The experience I had at Miller Place, was exceptional to see a real physical educators life for 10 days, how they prepare for class, how they keep on top of their equipment, and most importantly how to interact with their students.
The Miller Place School District neighbors my own high school, Rocky Point, and no one would ever imagine the differences in their physical education program. Now, the program has nothing to do with the age of the physical educators, or the programs of which they have come from. Both school districts have mainly young teachers who have just started their careers in the past five to eight years. Both school districts also have graduates of SUNY Cortland, Hostra, and CW Post, etc., but I’m sad to say that the main difference is passion. My own experiences with physical education at Rocky Point were physically learning skills of soccer, basketball, volleyball, golf, etc, like a quality program, but only in the psychomotor domain. From middle school until I graduated, I was part of a physical education program that simply rolled out the ball, and continues to roll out the ball from I am told.
How can a district four miles apart be so different? When I first met with Miller Place’s athletic Director, Ms. Lisa Lally, I was stunned as she described her program. She began by telling me that their program at Miller Place is unique, and she feels it is the best possible way to physically educate students. After my time observing and assisting, I can’t agree more with her. Each grade level has a curriculum specifically for them, which allow students to learn something completely different each year instead of the typical December Volleyball tournament, that last until Christmas break every year. How does this work? In the middle school PE classes are separated by grade. For example on one day sixth grade would be learning basketball, seventh grade would have introduction/singles badminton, and eight grade would have introduction to doubles badminton. (Miller Place is in the Guinness Book of World Records for their badminton team.) When I asked Mr. Johnson was is the most challenging thing with teaching her with your program he responded, “The biggest challenge I face as a teacher here is with our different units for each grade level, we are constantly changing equipment throughout the day.” Although this is challenging Mr. Johnson and his colleagues make it work, by helping each other set up in between periods.
In the high school things are very different, and this is due to the passion of their young physical educators. When I spoke to Ms. Rodriguez she told me how the majority of the PE staff retired together, which allowed for the new young staff to come in with a lot of energy to make changed. In the time that she has been their they have set up a unique style of physical education, that is challenging to schedule, but very rewarding for students. Freshmen and sophomores has PE class together, but are separated into Girls and Boys because of maturity, and direction of the curriculum. They have a rotating curriculum by year which allows students to learn a unit more in depth, and have different units each year. For example, Girls this year are learning basketball, the entire quarter, but next year the ninth and tenth grade girls will be learning volleyball at this time. Why split the classes by gender? It allows girls to have more opportunity to get a better education, where if they were with boys, most likely boys would dominate in game play, not allowing the girls to really play. The split classes also come in handy, because the freshmen/sophomore curriculum is based around infusing health into the PE class, so girls would learn more health based off their bodies, and boys would learn healthy habits for their bodies.
When you reach your Junior and Senior year at Miller Place you are treated like an adult. Senior students are allowed to leave school for lunch, and the physical education program also puts students in charge of their learning environment. The Junior/Senior curriculum is based off electives, which puts the decision of what the student wants to learn or has interest in back in the students’ hands. Again the curriculum, rotates each year so different electives are available to you when you move from junior to senior year. These electives also vary from the units you have been taught in previous years to allow for a broader knowledge of skills. For example some electives are ultimate Frisbee, yoga, team handball, and project adventure.
The Miller Place physical education department has outstanding program. Everything I have learned in classes at SUNY Cortland has been supported by my experiences during my ten day observation. Students learn a variety of activities, and are definitely close to the recommend regent’s level. Students are also held accountable for their grades as they are assessed across all three domains. My experiences at the Miller Place School District have solidified my commitment to becoming an effective physical educator. I have seen the demands and job responsibilities that entail a physical educator to also be on their toes, and ready to make a quick change, or offer free time to work with a student who needs a little extra help. With passion, and purpose I can effectively educated students to become healthy, active individuals.
( Bulletin board I created while at Miller Place)