Monday, November 29, 2010

Inclusion For All

As a physical education teacher in a public school, it is up to me to promote the health and well-being of my students by being culturally competent and creating a class that is both inclusive and empowering.  In order to do so I will increase multicultural competencies among myself and my students by working with fellow teachers and by creating a class atmosphere that accommodates and accepts all people. 

So What:  
Multicultural competence, as defined by Gill and Williams (2008), “refers to the ability to work effectively with people who are of a different culture… (and) are essential for anyone working with others, and certainly in all professional kinesiology roles” (p. 284).  Seeing as virtually all public schools have at least some level of multicultural diversity it is vital to establish multicultural competence to benefit ALL children from both a moral and developmental standpoint.  Negative stereotypes affect the minority group the most and according to Gill and Williams (2008) simple manipulations (such as telling a student that a test does not show race differences) can alleviate the stereotype threat.  Stereotypes can include: gender, sexual preference, physical attractiveness, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, physicality, among others.  A physical education class should be structured to benefit all children regardless of any of the previously mentioned physical and personal attributes; therefore it is important to create an atmosphere that tolerates all people.

Now What:  
I believe the most important factor in creating a multicultural competent atmosphere is to not limit the atmosphere to just the PE class.  Gill and Williams (2008) mention that 75% of teachers witness homophobic behaviors in their classroom and more than 50% of those teachers do not confront the behavior.  The teachers may ignore the behavior because the rest of the society, and most likely the rest of the teachers, will continue to reinforce homophobic behaviors because they have are widely accepted and have become the norm.  As a PE teacher, if I do everything in my power to create a classroom where the children accept multicultural differences, and they go to their next class where this is not the case, every bit of work I have done has been debunked.  In my classroom I will make it a certain point not only to treat all children fairly, I will continuously address situations where children may be singled out, and will make an effort to confront students who don’t treat others fairly.  Cultural competency needs to be a school-wide effort in order to truly be effective.  According to the APA Multicultural Guidelines (2002) multicultural education may help to counteract stereotyping that may lead to prejudices towards minorities.  Based on this I think it would be important to educate not only the students, but also parents and teachers on the detrimental effects of stereotyping.  Hopefully, this will encourage both educators and families to also create multicultural competent atmospheres so that what I encourage will not be cancelled out by others. 

Gill and Williams (2008) discuss the controversial area of “stacking.”  Stacking refers to when white athletes are put in the power position and hold a central role in controlling where minority positions will be.  One way to eliminate this from ever happening would be to either let the children decide what positions they want to play in team games, or to randomly assign positions if they are unable to come to a decide on their own..  Stacking is most common in organized sports and could easily happen in PE, but if a PE teacher is aware of it, stacking should be something easy to control. 

Including children with disabilities would be an extremely difficult task to take on, especially in those severely disabled.  Gill and Williams (2008) mention that “people with physical disabilities are one of the most inactive segments of the populations” (p. 282).  Craft (1994) discusses the inclusion of children with disabilities and she brings up several important approaches.  Craft makes a special point that children with disabilities should in fact be included in PE classes.  Being in constant contact with special education specialists, occupational and physical therapists, as well as other professionals in the field is very useful as they can provide the necessary consultation needed to allow children with special needs to get the most out of the class.  Each individual child will most likely need individual changes in the curriculum, so appropriate consultation is important in order to not only challenge the child to develop and put forth effort, but to also have fun and be included.

As a physical educator it is important to promote health and well-being to all students equally, and important part of that is making sure the children know they are all equals, even if their athletic ability is far from similar.  To increase cultural competence in the children it is not only important for me to set a good example, but for the entire faculty and parents to reinforce that good example.  Equality can be established in team games by randomly assigning positions and teams, which would also avoid stacking.  As for children with any form of physical or mental disability it is vital to communicate with professionals in the field in order to provide the least restrictive environment for the child so they can be challenged and have fun.

American Psychological Association (APA). (2003). Guidelines on multicultural educations, training, research, practice, and organizational change for psychologists. American Psychologist, 58, 377-402.
Craft, H. (1994).  Implications of inclusion for physical education.  The Journal of Physical Education, Recreations, and Dance, 65, 54-55.
Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Monday, November 15, 2010

7th Grade Cohesiveness

Case 1: 
As a seventh grade PE teacher I am trying to use team building with my diverse group of students.  Gill and Williams (2008) offer two main definitions for “team building” that are commonly used today.  The first definition states “team building is a method of helping the group to increase effectiveness, satisfy the needs of its members, or improve work conditions” and the second states “Team building can be characterized as ‘team enhancement’ for both task and social purposes” (Gill and Williams, p. 261).  Both definitions imply that team building exercises are vital to maximize the amount of productivity within the group (possibly by reducing social loafing) and to build relationships among the members of the group.  In relation to my seventh grade PE students, team building could be an incredibly effective way to both get the children to be actively engaged in exercise, and also to strengthen relationships between the peers. 

            The main objective of team building exercises is to enhance group cohesiveness in order to increase group effectiveness.  Senecal, Loughead & Bloom (2008) performed a study with 86 female high school basketball players and showed that teams that participated in team building interventions had higher levels of team cohesiveness than did the control teams.  If high group cohesiveness actually leads to increased group effectiveness, then group cohesiveness is clearly what I would need to focus on as a PE teacher. The first part of the program would be for me, the educator, to identify a problem or set a goal for the class as a whole.  I feel that one important problem that faces many PE classes in our country today is the lack of engagement and lack of activity that actually goes on during a PE class.  Students tend to spend much of the class standing around, not being engaged in the activity.  I would make it clear to my students at the beginning of the intervention that the ultimate goal is to increase overall activity (while still having just as much fun). 

I would first start by splitting up the classroom into several groups.  Each group would have the same task, and each group would be working towards an overall classroom goal.  This way groups could be competing against each other but still be unified by the same common goal.  It is important for the groups to not be too big for several reasons.  Gill and Williams (2008) discuss social loafing and mention that when people work in smaller groups social loafing tends to decrease.  If the children are in smaller groups they will feel as if they are being individually evaluated and put forth more effort.  The children should also feel more comfortable performing a task (sit up or push up) in a small group as opposed to in a large group.  Not only will the children feel like they are being more closely evaluated, small groups will indeed make it easier for me to evaluate the individuals and teams better.

Splitting up the teams evenly in terms of diversity (race, ability, gender, etc) will be important to keep things even.  Each team should have a designated leader as well as other defined roles within the group.  The roles will be clear to each group member and they will be held accountable for what the contribute to the group.  I will encourage the students to help others in the group in order to best benefit the group as a whole.  There is a lot that peers can teach each other, especially if the group is diverse.  Assisting and teaching other members of the group will not only increase performance, but it will strengthen relationships within the team.  Each team can have different colored shirts in order to distinguish one group from another.  Explain the importance of exercise to the class as a whole to hopefully increase intrinsic motivation, but also some form of reward for the groups that do the best could also be beneficial (cut in line at lunch pass, “jean day” if school has dress code, etc.).  If he students enjoy these team building exercises, it may be very beneficial to repeat them throughout the year.  Each time assign the students to different groups so they have the chance to meet and work with new people. 

According to Gill and Williams (2008) research has shown that team building interventions increase group effectiveness by enhancing group cohesiveness.  My 7th grade PE class is to take part in a team building exercise that is aimed to do just that; enhance group cohesiveness to increase the amount of activity and engagement during a PE class.  The groups will be split up by me and each group will have similar levels of ability and diversity.  Each group will have defined roles, be encouraged to assist other group members when possible, and the small groups will allow me to effectively evaluate group and individual performance. 

Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Senecal, J., Loughead, T., & Bloom, G. (2008). A season-long team-building intervention: Examining the effect of team goal setting on cohesion. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 30(2), 186-199.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Families Together Program

What:  Gill and Williams (2008) mention that physical inactivity can lead to an array of health problems including: Heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, etc.  The Families Together and Active program I am to develop is targeted towards increasing family memberships.  This program will address physical inactivity and increase positive attitudes towards physical activity by getting families to utilize social influence, resulting in a much healthier lifestyle.

So What:  As Gill and Williams (2008) discussed in chapter 10, physical inactivity is a serious issue around the world.  Early research performed by Triplett (1898) found evidence that the presence of others increased performance on timed tasks.  This lead to a great amount of research on social facilitation, but little of it was applicable to real world situations.  Social facilitation was most beneficial as it lead to extensive research in social influence, and many important phenomenon’s were discovered, some of which include: competition increases arousal which is shown  to increase reaction times and speed in certain tasks, cooperative learning environments lead to achievements and greater productivity than does individualistic efforts, cooperative efforts leads to higher self-esteem, observational learning via modeling is most noticeable in sport and exercise as it provides information about how to perform motor skills, having significant others present can affect people’s self-perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, positive peer relationships are associated with higher perceived competence, enjoyment, and sport commitments, and socially supportive instructors can lead to a variety of positive effects in exercise classes. Knowing all of this, if families join The Families Together program they will provide their own source of social influence and strive together.

Now What:  The first part of the plan is to advertise the program.  Based on the Recommendations to Increase Physical Activity in Communities, by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services (2002), I believe that Community-Wide campaigns would be the most effective strategy because ads can be targeted specifically to the members of the community.  Newspaper ads as well as television and radio commercials could be used to explain what The Families Together program is, and why it can benefit all ages. 

Before parents are expected to join I would first introduce them to the program and further explain the purpose and benefits of the program.  The following are some of the things I would educate and inform them of.  According to Fredricks and Eccles (2004) research shows that active parents have active children so it is important for parents to be a positive model for their children. Fredricks and Eccles (2004) mention that “parents who play sports on any level provide a model for their children and help normalize involvement in athletics” (p. 150).  Seeing as the program is for a park and recreation department, a wide variety of activities can be used to facilitate self-efficacy, modeling, self-observation, self-perceptions, etc. to increase participation and overall enjoyment.  My program would incorporate activities for children only, children and parents together, and parents and adults only. Seeing as competition is a form of cooperative effort which leads to higher achievement and greater productivity than individualistic efforts, competition will be available in many different forms.  The children activities would consist of team games and leagues (football, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball etc).  These leagues would facilitate competition, peer relationships, modeling, etc.  The activities that include both parents and children could include parent-children swim classes, biking classes, walking clubs, as well as a variety of tournaments and games to get the whole family involved.  Gill and Williams (2008) mention that parents’ belief and value systems influences their children’s belief and value system.  Getting parents and children to participate in physical activity together would be a perfect way for parents to show their children that they value exercise.  If parents want time to exercise alone, I would have a dare-care facility available for parents to take their children to so they don’t have to worry about their children while exercising.  The parents can then take part in exercise classes, as well as adult sport leagues (volleyball, softball, etc). 

In order for families to get the most bang for their buck, competent and effective instructors are a key.  As Gill and Williams (2008) discuss, having effective and socially supportive instructors in exercise classes is beneficial in many ways including: Greater exercise self-efficacy, more energy and enthusiasm, less postexercise fatigue, more enjoyment, etc.  As for children, Gill and Williams (2008) note that having significant others present (parents) can increase a person’s self-perception, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.  But Fredricks and Eccles (2004) note that over-involvement of parents and high pressure from parents can result in negative child outcomes. It would be important for the program to stress parental encouragement towards their children, and not over-involvement.  

Conclusion:  The Families Together program utilizes social influence in order to get people of all ages to become more physically active.  The program in set up for families to participate in activities together, as well as opportunities for adults and children to participate with their own peer group.  Social influence has been shown to increase self-efficacy, self-perceptions, and increase attitudes towards physical activity, so it is important that families join and participate together. 

Fredricks, J. A., & Eccles, J. S. (2004). Parental Influences on youth involvement in sports. In M. R.Weiss (Ed.), Developmental sport and exercise psychology: A lifespan perspective (pp. 145-164). Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Task Force on Community Preventative Services. (2002). Recommendations to increase physicalactivity in communities. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 22 (4S). 67-72.