Lessons From Outside the Classroom

Lessons From Outside the Classroom

I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I was 17. I imagined growing up and having my own classroom. I thought about how I would decorate it, how I would arrange the desks, and how I would make sure that every student felt comfortable there. When I decided to spend the year as an Augustinian Volunteer, and accepted the PE teacher position at St. Patrick’s, this image that I had in my head of my setting and role as a teacher shifted. My first full year of teaching hasn’t been spent in a classroom at all, but instead, in a parking lot. This parking lot can transform into a kickball field, a volleyball court, and a dodgeball arena all in a single day, and it has been an incredible blessing.

I know the names of each of my 178 students. Each grade has their own personality and PE games that I know will be a hit. I know that eighth grade is always up for soccer, no questions asked, and that first graders will ask to play pumpkin tag in January, even though it’s just a game that I made up for Halloween. There are so many places to find joy at St. Pat’s. For example, no matter how chaotic or stressful the morning has been, it’s hard not to smile when I’m greeted with hugs from five kindergartners at once while the rest of the class hops up and down yelling, “Miss Cookie!” or when the fourth graders jump back in line over and over again at the end of class to give me endless high fives.

I’m grateful for this wonderful service site and all the opportunities and lessons it has given me. Through this placement I have had the ability to interact with more kids across all grade levels than I could have from my own classroom and I’ve been fully welcomed into the St. Pat’s family by all the teachers. I’ve learned the value of making teams as fair as possible, but taking the opportunity to give a quick lesson on sportsmanship when they are not. Most importantly, I’ve learned that PE class is about so much more than enforcing the rules of a given sport. It’s about encouraging students to cheer each other on, try new things, and always do their best.

Jocelyn Cooke

San Diego, CA 2018-2019

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