Teachers attend workshops with Bona’s students
By Kellen Quicgley
Physical education teachers from across Cattaraugus and Allegany counties gathered at St. Bonaventure University on Monday, March 16, for a day of active workshop sessions hosted by the university.
One of the primary goals was to create a professional network and community for all physical educators across the two counties, event organizer Bonnie Smith said.
But unlike other forums, these workshops focused on incorporating physical education into all aspects of the school system by reaching and teaching every student.
Physical Education teachers from kindergarten through twelfth grade attended workshops with Bonaventure students on topics ranging from embracing the future of education to helping kids become more active today.
“We want to make sure it’s a mix of discussing theory and getting up and moving around,” Smith said.
Many of the educators who participated had attended previous forums.
Forum numbers have been consistent at 50 to 60 attendees each time, according to Smith.
A self-defense and fitness workshop for the middle and high school teachers presented by Barry Broughton of AKT Combatives Academy, took place in the Sandra A. and William L. Richter Center that afternoon.
“We want to inspire the kids to move more through cardio workouts and self-defense classes,” Maria Brooks an Olean high school physical educator, said. “Adapting the PE classes into a new curriculum is important for the kids and school overall.”
Meanwhile, education majors Micaela Young, Sarah Meister and Alexis Mulvehill presented a workshop to the elementary teachers with Allison Barnes, an adjunct professor.
Smith said one of the goals was to have the teachers go both ways, between teachers and Bonaventure students.
“Students can teach teachers, too. It’s a nice collaboration between students and staff. You never have to stop learning,” Smith said.
The lessons from the students related to different concepts that connect physical education to the classroom, including math in nutrition, history lessons and yoga.
“We showed the teachers different tools they can use in gym class by reinforcing what kids are learning,” Young said.
Barnes agreed and said adding movement can help the kids learn better.
“The lessons can flow better by integrating them into activities where they get up and move around,” Barnes said.
The majority of schools in the two counties are small, rural schools, whose physical education teachers feel isolated and disconnected from their peers in other districts, Smith said. They have few opportunities to network or collaborate between districts outside of coaching and often feel frustrated by professional growth opportunities within their districts.
In addition to networking, Smith said they want to provide quality learning opportunities for the teachers in the areas of curriculum, assessment and instruction.
She received continuous feedback from the participants on the workshops throughout the day and planned to use it in future sessions for maximum opportunity and growth.
“Our goals for future forums include workshops on nutrition and healthy eating,” Smith said. “We’ll keep some of the same ones while including evolving session ideas.”
A federal grant given to the Portville and Cattaraugus-Little Valley districts made the previous three years’ forums possible.
Additionally, Olean and Hinsdale’s school districts were recently awarded a three-year grant by Carol White PEP Grants starting this year.
The schools have allocated funds toward continuing the forum for the duration of their grant.
“Working and sharing with each other has made a huge difference for the physical educators,” Smith said. “We are fortunate to see lots of highly effective teaching happening for the kids in these districts. And it’s been a wonderful collaboration with BOCES and the Bonaventure students and staff.”