Abby Peterson served two years as an AmeriCorps member with Playworks before making the transition into the classroom. Abby is now a kindergarten teacher at one of our partner school. After several months in the classroom, Abby reflects on how her experience with Playworks has influenced her teaching.
My career in education started many years ago and has been incredibly varied. When I found Playworks, I needed a change. After two years, Playworks refreshed my practice as a teacher! Through the mission, outlook and training I received as a coach, I gained invaluable tips and tricks to become a better teacher. Of the many effects I learned, the most vital was the importance of engagement.
As a Playworks coach, it was incredibly easy to gain kids’ attention and desire to participate. Still there were moments I needed to push, pull or garner the extra character in the students to attain their true potential. This became much more attainable as the kids were more and more engaged, not only in the games at hand, but the program as a whole.
When you see the big picture, it is much more likely that you will ‘buy in’ to what is happening. This is the concept I relied on. I knew that I wasn’t just at Woodlawn School to play games, I was there to make a difference. Engaging in the core values (respect, inclusion, healthy play and healthy community) allowed me and my Junior Coaches to actively engage the rest of the school community.
Transferring into the classroom, I’ve enlisted a holistic approach, engaging the students in the how and why of our learning. When the students feel actively engaged in what we are learning, their participation and success go up steadily. While I still play games daily with my students, I appreciate the ability I now have to understand the true definition of engagement in my classroom. Today, my students are engaged in the game we are playing, the information we are learning, the direction our school is headed, and the importance of being a strong community. Their engagement in every piece is crucial to their academic success and each piece is as important as the next.
Alligator Alligator, Chomp Chomp was my favorite attention getter on the playground, and I still use this gem in my classroom.