Paul and Gayle are taking a year from their roles in Picton and Belleville and will be teaching at the Maple Leaf International School in Trinidad. We will use this blog to record some of our edventures!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Teaching Physical Education at Maple Leaf

As you may know, two-thirds of my teaching timetable here in Trinidad is physical education. Some may not know that my original career plan was to become a physical education teacher, however, when I left university I was given the opportunity to teach computers. Computers and I get along quite well, so the original plan was quickly shelved!  While I was a little concerned with my lack of experience when moving to teach PE at Maple Leaf, I was also very excited to have a new opportunity.

After some initial learning about the "system" here, I think I have a pretty good handle on things. We have a very limited facility. There is one covered outdoor gymnasium.  The north west corner is bordered by a rock face that leads up to jungle.  During a hard rain (which happens almost once a day) the concrete floor gets wet and it's unusable. There is also a paved courtyard area which is a little larger.  The gym is used for periods 1, 2 and 3 by elementary classes. Secondary has period 4 only. There is no field or outdoor grassy space. This doesn't hold our students back from playing hours of "small goal" football (soccer to most North Americans) and other sports.

The Maxis we ride in
Since I have a period 3 class, we must spend our physical activity time off campus.  Everyday we load up two maxi taxis (vans that hold about 12 passengers) with students, a security guard and myself and head to a park, community centre or the Savannah.  At typical class looks like this: 
10:45 am get changed
10:50 am load the maxis and take attendance
10:52 am leave the school

A loaded Maxi. We take our gear with us!
10:52 - 11:10 am -- travel -- depending on traffic and destination this can be anywhere from 10 - 20 minutes. I usually budget for 15 minutes each way.
11:10 - 11:45 am - physical activity (give or take)
11:45 am -- load the maxis and head back for lunch.

Yes, that's only about 35 minutes for activity so we have to maximize all opportunities by getting moving very quickly.  The students are very good and understand this, so they form up quickly and get active. Sometimes we use travel time for goal setting and instructions. Which is far from perfect because I can only be in one maxi at time. Sometimes I ride with half the students on the way and the other half on the way back.

Orienteering at King George V Park
Although we have some external factors that we cannot control (e.g., rain, traffic, other groups using the facilities), the students are great and understand that flexibility is important.  On Friday, as my senior class arrived at the park, the rain started to pour (hard).  Undaunted, they left the maxi and began an energetic barefoot small-goal game (not our planned activity).  The rain let up a little, but didn't ever stop.  The maxi driver was not impressed with the muddy and wet students getting into her van at the end of class.

I think any physical education teacher would agree that, despite the plan,  the success of a class can be measured by the number happy, dirty, wet, sweaty kids at the end. 10 / 10!

BTW, I mopped up the mud in the van with some wet pinnies and the driver was pleased too!

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