What does PE look like at Hyla?
Teacher Cooper Rooks explains in his own words:
When most of us think of Middle school PE classes we think of awkward locker rooms and gyms with dozens of our peers in a competitive environment that feels like it was invented to highlight our differences in a negative way. Or at least that’s what I remember as 6’3″ lumbering 8th grader, who played basketball and field games like a fish out of water (I was a swimmer). I had a PE teacher in 8th grade that encouraged me to discover my own athletic potential without fear of failed attempts. I use some of my adolescent memories to inform and remind me of the potential for PE to bring kids together with trust and integrity rather than separating them through competition that highlights our differences. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t competitive. I believe that it is equally important to practice winning gratefully and losing gracefully. In times of conflict I often remind students that we are more like siblings and teammates than opponents, a relationship that doesn’t require us to be best friends but does need trust.
In the world of Hyla PE, we have three rules that help us navigate the responsibility that comes with so much freedom: be kind, play fair, and have fun. If we keep these three guiding principles in mind, we are “taking care of each other,” the Hyla way.
We have unique opportunities and challenges with small class sizes. For example, in a small group, one person’s positive attitude and enthusiasm can spread quickly, but the opposite is also true. In this unique social environment, I can more effectively read each individual daily and help collaborative decision-making that considers the needs of each student.
The creativity and cooperation that emerges from giving the students a voice in daily activities constantly amazes me and keeps activities engaging and exciting. I hope that each student in Hyla PE will look back in 20 years and be able to say that middle school PE helped them realize their best self, in physically active pursuits but also as a member of any team, workplace, family, or community, taking care of each other.
-Cooper Rooks, PE teacher