Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mustang Club Swimming Lessons

It's time to put on your Michale Phelps face and get swimming!  Mustang Club Swimming Lessons are back for the second year.  This is one of my favorite times of the year because I enjoy watching students learn to be safer in and around the water and become more confident in their swimming skills.

As a swimming coach of all ages, I enjoy teaching the BASIC skills of swimming as well as develop swimmers into Division I, II and III athletes.  When I started coaching at Breck I got a vision of creating a program where the Breck swimmers and divers would give back to the Breck community by teaching swimming lessons to the younger students.  Last year that dream can to fruition with Mustang Club Swimming Lessons.

The Mustang Club Swimming program is unique because upper school student-athletes (swimmers and divers) teach the swimming lessons to the lower school students.  The program teaches the upper school students responsibility, leadership, community service, and techniques for teaching swimming to young children, primarily beginners.  The lower school students learn how to be safe in and around the water, better their swimming skills, have fun while interacting with their friends and learning from the upper school students.

Last year we had 9 upper school student teacher volunteers and 22 lower school swimmers in the program and this year we have 16 upper school student teacher volunteers and 30 lower school swimmers!  The lower school students are divided up by ability and place with an upper school student teacher and taught at their skill level in small groups (usually 2 teachers/4-5 students).  The students will learn basic skills from floating and swimming paddle stroke all the way up to butterfly and diving.  All dependent on skill level of course.  There is always time to play in the water with the upper school student teachers and just truly enjoy the water.

Even though this program is starting it's second year, last year was extremely successful.  I had emails and calls from parents telling me how much their child's swimming skills and confidence improved because of the program.  In fact, one lower school student was so timid in the water that we put him with a single instructor.  By the end of the 5 weeks, he was swimming with a ton of confidence.  During summer break I was informed he was jumping in the lake and swimming back to the dock all by himself!!!  Not only is that a proud moment for him and his parents but also for that upper school student teacher and me knowing he is safer and more confident in the water.

The overall goal is twofold for lower school it's to develop safe swimmers, improve swimming skills and create confidence.  For the upper school students, it's to develop leadership skills, learn how to teach a skill they enjoy and give back to the Breck community.  Most importantly, it's for everyone to have a lot of fun while learning new skills.

If you are ever interested in seeing this program in action, we are in the pool on Monday's from 3:45-4:30pm on Monday, April 10th, 17th, 24th and May 1st and 8th.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gymnastics FUN!

Ms. Carlson's PE class just finished up GYMnastics and we all had a ton of fun.  The students focused on how their bodies move through space while being in different balances,  shapes (tuck, pike, straddle, etc.) and using different apparatuses.  The students love all of the gymnastic apparatuses but their favorites by far are the floor and the vault.  The floor is bouncy and soft.  It makes jumping easier and yes, even falling a lot more fun.  They love the vault because its powerful and there's an element of flight.

Gymnastics helps students develop coordination, flexibility, strength development, overcoming fears by taking safe risks, work ethic, discipline, determination, and self-confidence.

Coordination: Students learn how their bodies move through their environment.  With gymnastics the students have the aid of many different types of mats and apparatuses to help them understand how their bodies move, balance, roll and fall.

Flexibility: We all wish we had more flexibility. This is because we all know that it is the key link to helping prevent the risk of injury and it helps keep the aches and pains more at bay. Gymnastics is the top sport that focuses on flexibility.  However, flexibility aids in the development of all other sports. Next time you watch a professional sporting event keep an eye out for how flexible the athletes are in their sport.

Strength Development: Gymnastics is almost exclusively body weight exercises of the upper body, lower body, and core (back, stomach, hips and glutes).  The strength that is developed in gymnastics helps the students out in all other physical activities they take part in throughout their development. 

Overcoming Fears:  Throughout the gymnastics unit the students are slowing introduced to many different skills by first learning them on the floor then transferring them to an apparatus.  This can be scary! Each student is different but the steps and goals set to overcome the mind blocks and fears allows the students to feel successful as well as wanting to take safe risks to achieve the specific skill.

Discipline & Work Ethic: Discipline in gymnastics is very important and it's due to two parts.  The first and most important are the rules needed for gymnastics.  The safety of the students is the top priority.  These rules must be followed and it takes discipline to follow the rules in order to be safe and have fun.  The other is self-discipline which also goes along with work ethic. Each student needs to have self-control to make corrections when asked of them and the students need to stay on task when working with another student and or on an apparatus.  Gymnastics is a very difficult sport and it takes focused and consistent work along with discipline to achieve the skills.

Determination: Most sports develop determination, but gymnastics takes numerous repetitions (more failures than successes) to get the move right. Gymnastics encourage students to get up and try again because they will soon achieve the move or stunt.  

Self-confidence: Throughout the gymnastics unit the students start with the grassroots of tumbling. They progress to move toward a more difficult skill or take the basic skills and do them on an apparatus.  For example, a pike position forward roll becomes a hip circle (of a tip and flip) on the uneven bars.  With the general progression of skills and the students willingness to take safe risks, the self-confidence blossoms over the two week unit. 

The students always look forward to the gymnastics unit and there are some that are unsure of the unit, but by the end no one wants the unit to end.  Here are some pictures of students have fun during gymnastics... 


Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Happy 2017!  Each year at this time we hear about and or watch the College Football Bowl games and the NFL Playoffs. Many of us watch the games for the love of the sport, to witness amazing plays and for some, they watch the games to view the power of teamwork.  As a coach and PE teacher, I watch the games for all the above reasons.  However, I am always drawn to watching the interactions of team members on the sidelines.  I watch how the athletes interact and respond to each other and how they interact and respond to their coaches.  Team culture is HUGE! Team culture is everywhere!

Team culture is the expression of a team's values, attitudes and beliefs. There is a strong sense of mission and purpose.  Teams are not just in sport.  Teams are prevalent in a school setting through group projects, PE games and leadership development. Another area in which team work can be seen, is in small and large corporations.  All of those team settings have a purpose, mission, and a goal.  It is up to EACH individual to trust other team members, honor the same values, beliefs and attitude. This isn't easy to do on daily bases.

In lower school, the students get their first experiences of team work and team culture through sport and group projects.  Each student has a different view on what a team is based on their experiences and what they have seen from high school, college and professional sports teams.  As a teacher and coach I look for those teachable moments and ways to teach teamwork and team culture through sport and games.   "A team member that makes the team great is more valuable than a great player" (Coach John Wooden).

My goal for my classroom culture is to teach students to function, learn and work as a team.  This means to embrace each others differences as well as each individuals similarities.  By doing this we work together to achieve the common goal of learning new skills, showing good sportsmanship, supporting each others learnings, growing as leaders and most of all having fun. There are times when students don't see eye to eye on a call made within a game or get frustrated if a skill is taking longer to learn compared to another student or if one group looks to be stronger or weaker in their skills which to some students, is "unfair".  These are the teachable moments I embrace and really want to remind and teach my students we are all in this together.  We also discuss how we as a team (class) can share our voice yet understand it must represent the betterment of the team.

I want my students and student-athletes to feel safe to speak up and know that it is normal to feel a bit vulnerable.  This is part of learning, growing, supporting and working together.  All these skills come together to create a strong team culture which my students and my student-athletes will use not only in school and sport but in their future work places.

I encourage you to observe the sidelines of any game you are watching, be it young children, high school, college or professional. Watch the interactions of the players and the players with the coaches. One can truly learn a lot just through the skill of observation.  If you are in the work force, pay attention to what makes your workplace strive towards the companies common goals. Teamwork is everywhere and if the team culture is one in which everyone is engaged, feeling supported and successful, the entire team will be successful!  Here is a great video so show the power of teamwork and the fun it truly can be for everyone.