Monday, December 6, 2010

Character Development

            Recent after school violence between middle school students in the courtyard has spiked the idea of starting an after-school program.  The students need to be kept busy from the time school gets out and their parents getting home from work.  This will be a great opportunity for the students to be able to work together, as well as grow and mature through character building activities.   
            After-school programs help the students to develop competencies enabling them to mature healthily, as well as develop skills throughout youth in order to become responsible young adults (Networks, 1998).  Our school looks to be able to create a program in order enhance character development amongst the students.  As of recently, our ultimate goal is to allow our learners to become responsible not only within school, but outside as well.  According to Gill & Williams (2008), a program will allow character development in physical activity if the program itself is designed for that specific purpose. 
            The character building program being proposed to the principal is a semester long progression offered to only middle school aged students.  This specific program incorporates community and family involvement, mentoring, conflict resolution, as well as diversity (Champions, 2010).  There will be community wide opportunities throughout the semester including raking leaves, fun runs, cleanup efforts, and food drives.  High school students will volunteer their time to mentor the middle school students with their homework as well as sharing experiences with each other.  Peer counselors will be assigned each week in order to have someone to turn to and enable them to learn from one another on how to solve issues amongst themselves.  Being a public school, multicultural learning will also be incorporated into the program.  Every two weeks, the students will be educated on a new multicultural physical activity and will enable them to teach themselves the rules and play activities focused on diversity throughout the world. 
            This youth development program will not only allow the students to develop stronger skills, but to also boost their confidence and allow them to foresee a future for themselves.  By building their character and connections with other people, an environment will be created allowing support and empowerment amongst the students (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003). 
Champions Academy, (2010). Champions extended learning programs. Retrieved from
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd edition). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Networks for Youth Development: A Guided Tour of Youth Development (2nd edition). The Fund for the City of New York, New York (1998).
Roth, J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2003). Youth development programs: risk, prevention and policy. Journal of Adolescent Health, 32(3), pp. 170-182.Retrieved from doi: 10.1016/S1054-139X(02)00421-4

Monday, November 29, 2010

Multicultural Education

Multicultural education is a way of advancing sport and exercise psychology and to influence the public interest.  As a physical education teacher at a public middle school, I am looking to incorporate multicultural education within my curriculum.  It is going to allow us to reach out to the diversity of the students as well as promote being physically active (Gill & Williams, 2008). 
                According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), a two-year strategic plan has been developed specifically for promoting physical activity amongst diverse settings.  This plan is aimed towards enhancing and improving the quality of physical education programs, and as a teacher, it is my duty to create an inclusive environment amongst the diversity of the students within the program.  Identifying the multicultural competencies is necessary while teaching in such a diverse setting (NASPE).  It is going to allow the program to see where we are on the continuum and what we need to do to in order to develop certain competencies and to be able to be where we want to be in the near future as well. 
                Gill and colleagues (2005) suggest a need for the concept of cultural competence, a continuum, as well as selected resources.  They also suggest the application of the concept of cultural competence to be applied within physical education including program instruction, the curriculum itself, as well as the policies involved in the program (Gill & Williams, 2008). 
The concept of cultural competence includes the inclusion of culturally diverse forms of physical activity (Gill & Williams, 2008).  As a way to create an inclusive environment, a multicultural games unit will be introduced for four weeks out of the semester.  This is going to allow the students to be able to create an understanding of different world cultures.  As an introduction of multicultural education, there is going to be a time for research and allowing the students to collect resources specific to multicultural physical activities.  The students will be divided up into groups and given the task of researching and learning about a specific multicultural game.  The students will then be assigned a day to present the information they have found to the class as well as teach and play the game itself. 
By allowing the students to teach themselves about the variety of multicultural physical activities, we as a school and the program itself will promote the improvement of cultural competence and we will be able to move up the competence continuum.  As a school having never included any type of multicultural education previously, we have been within the first few stages of the continuum.  However, now that there is a clear plan of introducing multicultural education within the physical education curriculum, we as a school are between the stages of cultural precompetence and cultural competence (Gill & Williams, 2008). 
As a starting point for including multicultural education within the curriculum, our school aims to reach the final stage of cultural proficiency by the end of following school year.  Multicultural education is necessary for creating an inclusive environment and allowing not only the students, but also the teachers and staff to broaden their knowledge of other existing cultural physical activities.  This improvement in our education system is a mere stepping stone in affecting social change.  Someday, society will become educated and there will be a stop to oppression and injustice for all. 
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. pp. 267-289. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2010-2012). NASPE strategic plan. Retrieved from

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Team Building

As an adolescent physical education teacher, I would like to incorporate some team building activities within the class periods I have with my seventh graders in particular.  The overall goal of physical education classes is to enhance physical fitness and skills of the students.  Teamwork values seem to always be reserved for those who participate in sport; however, not all students choose to participate in sport (Glover & Midura, 1992).  Personally having strong feelings towards all children and adolescents building and improving on their teamwork values, I would like to take my seventh graders to the next level.  I want them to be able to build their teamwork values within class as well as through other extracurricular activities. 
                There are four basic approaches to team building.  They are goal setting, interpersonal relations, role clarifications, and problem solving (Klein, C., DiazGranados, D., Salas, E., Le, H., & Burke, C.S., 2009).  The reason for goal setting is to allow for individual and team goals to be developed as well as to be able to discuss a plan of action in order to meet the goals by a set time and date.  Interpersonal relations increase teamwork skills of each individual as well as help the team to develop trust with one another and belief in the team itself.  Role clarification is necessary in order to increase communication within the team and to allocate personal roles and duties given to each individual.  Finally, problem solving permits involvement of identifying task-related problems within the group as well as action planning and solutions (Klein et al., 2009).    
                Team building is meant for each student to feel a sense of accomplishment.  As a team, they will be given challenges to overcome together, and in doing so, cohesion will take place.  Each individual will be given their own specific role to play, differing for each challenge, for a sense of personal success and achievement throughout the semester.  This program will influence the students’ communication with each other, as well as being able to learn all of the different roles and tasks that need to be overcome with each challenge given to them. 
                By incorporating a team building program into physical education classes, the students will significantly gain higher perceptions of global self-worth, athletic competence, physical appearance, social acceptance, as well as gaining higher perceptions of scholastic competence and behavioral conduct (Ebbeck & Gibbons, 1998).  The students will be able to improve their team building skills.  From this, they will take what they have learned and apply it to future extracurricular activities aside from physical education classes. 
Carron, A.V., & Spink, K.S. (1993). Team building in an exercise setting. The Sport Psychologist, 7, pp. 8-18. Retrieved from
Ebbeck, V., & Gibbons, S.L. (1998). The effect of a team building program on self-conception of grade 6 and 7 physical education students. Journal of sport and Exercise Physiology, 20(3). Retrieved from https://secure.
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. pp. 261-265. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Glover, D.R., & Midura, D.W. (1992). Team Building Through Physical Challenges [pp. 1-21]. (Google Books), Retrieved from
Klein, C., DiazGranados, D., Salas, E., Le, H., & Burke, C.S. (2009). Does team building work? Small Group Research, 40(2), pp. 181-222, Retrieved from doi: 10.1177/1046496408328821

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Promoting Physical Activity

Our urban community public school has just received a grant that is going to allow our students to participate in an after school program.  The objective for this program is to increase physical activity among overweight middle school students and in turn reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as promote a healthy lifestyle. 
                Physical inactivity is a major crisis around the world resulting in overweight and obesity problems including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, and anxiety (Gill & Williams, 2008).  This widespread epidemic needs to be brought to an end.  The best way of preventing these complications related with a sedentary routine is to introduce, model, and reinforce healthy behaviors and lifestyles during early childhood (Caprio, 2006).  Not only has it been recommended to remove vending machines for candy and soda within schools (Cawley, 2006), but it is also apparent that we as adults need to encourage and promote physical activity throughout everyday life with our children and adolescence. 
                This specific after school program is going to follow the transtheoretical model researched by Prochaska and DiClemente (1983).  This model allows us to determine the relationship between individual readiness and exercise behavior (Gill & Williams, 2008).  The students participating in this program are not all going to be at the same level of readiness.  Most will either be in the precontemplation or contemplation phases.  It is our duty to increase their ability to participate in physical activity and progress them through each of the stages up to maintenance where they will eventually be able to lead a healthy lifestyle on their own. 
                Our program is going to run immediately following school, which has been researched to show that this is the most likely time for children to be most sedentary if they are not given active options.  It is geared towards middle school in order to teach healthy patterns during the developmental stage so they can form and carry on traits into adulthood.  Snacks and meals will be provided to serve as healthy dietary habits that will also be continued on into their future lifestyles.  Many physical activities will be applied in order to help children to maintain healthy body weights, increase self confidence, and give a sense of belonging in order to decrease feelings of hopelessness and depression (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 2003).
                This year long program will not only allow for the children to increase their physical activity but will also improve their knowledge about healthy and active lifestyles.  Informational newsletters will be sent home with the kids to allow for the parents to become involved in encouraging healthy choices at home as well.  As suggested by Gill and Williams (2008), it is vital to be sure the different stages of readiness are being addressed in this program. 
The kids that fall into the categories of precontemplation and contemplation will be taken through cognitive processes.  This involves being informed of all of the different ways of increasing physical activity, promoting good nutrition, and also engaging families and parents to encourage healthy lifestyles at home.  This will allow for exercise adherence and physical activity motivation.  It is here where we will use strategies such as goal setting, positive self-talk, and association-dissociation as part of this particular part of the program. 
Once they have moved on into the preparation, action, and maintenance phases we are able to incorporate more behavioral processes.  As stated in Gill and Williams (2008), Martin and Dubbert (1984) provide information suggesting behavioral strategies.  During the preparation and action phases, we will use strategies that include shaping long-term exercise habits, reinforcement through social support, using cues in acquiring a habit, and writing up a behavioral contract.  Finally, during the maintenance phase we will be able to use generalization training, gradually take back on reinforcement, they will be able to self-monitor and self-evaluate, as well as be able to advocate relapse-prevention training. 
Medical literature shows that 20% of children and adolescence in the United States are overweight or obese (Kottke & Hoffman, 2003).  This is a result of unhealthy acts and leading sedentary lifestyles.  Children need to be encouraged through after school programs to be able to make the healthy decisions through nutrition and promote physically active lifestyles.  With the help of parents, the community and the environment, we will be able to put a stop to this tragic epidemic that has been taken widespread across the world and to have hope for our future populations. 
Caprio, Sonia. (2006). Treating child obesity and associated medical conditions. The Future of Children, 16, 1, pp. 209-224. Retrieved from
Cawley, John. (2006). Markets and childhood obesity policy. The Future of Children, 16, 1, 69-88. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2003). Physical activity levels among children aged 9-13 years: United States, 2002.  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 52: 785-788. Retrieved from
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. pp. 147-159. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Kottke, T.E., Wu, L., & Hoffman, R.S. (2003). Economic and psychological implications of the obesity epidemic. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 78: 92-94. Retrieved from

Monday, October 18, 2010

Achievement Motivation

Two best friends, Kate and Robin have just entered their freshman year of high school together.  They do everything together except when it comes to physical activity.  They don’t seem to see physical education class eye to eye and Kate appears to work a lot harder at it than Robin.  Their physical education teacher needs a little advice when it comes to motivating these two in different ways.  In order to do this, I need to create an achievement motivation profile for each girl so we can layout the different aspects and make note of key points within each profile. 
An individuals’ choice, persistence, and performance can be explained by how well they think they will do on an activity and what they will do in order to achieve success (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). Achievement behavior explanations stem from the work of Atkinson (1964, 1974).  Atkinson’s theory of achievement motivation defines the multiple factors that play into the role of achievement behavior including personality and situational (Gill & Williams, 2008).
                According to Atkinson’s theory, there are two personality constructs that factor into achievement motivation.  They are the motivation to be successful and the motivation to avoid failure.  When applying this theory to Kate and Robin, it is clear to see that Kate is a high achiever whereas Robin is a low achiever.  Kate enjoys challenging activities and does them without worrying about the possibility of failure, while Robin worries constantly about failure and completely avoids achievement situations, whether or not she is capable of performing well. 
                Atkinson’s theory also incorporates situational factors that affect achievement motivation.  These two factors are task difficulty, or in other words the probability of success, and the incentive value of success.  We can relate this to Kate and Robin’s personal experiences.  Robin, being more capable of performing physical activity when compared to Kate, does not seem to enjoy the experience and chooses not to play up to her capabilities.  Instead of doing her best, she expects to fail and in doing so she chooses to do only simple tasks or impossible ones.  On the other hand, Kate is not as athletic when compared to her peers, but is one that enjoys physical activity, is eager to participate, and chooses challenging tasks to try out. 
                Looking at these two best friends with completely different motivational concepts, it may be that Robin just doesn’t believe she has the ability to perform certain tasks and wishes to not be embarrassed by failure.  She doesn’t seem to realize her capabilities.  As advice for her physical education teacher, I would utilize the TARGET principles in order to create a mastery climate.  In order to encourage Robin’s participation, she needs to be motivated by being rewarded for her effort, learning, and improvement.  Her teacher needs to design challenging and diverse tasks, provide leadership opportunities, recognize improvement, provide group learning opportunities, evaluate task mastery and individual improvement, as well as provide enough time to learn (Gill & Williams, 2008).  This type of mastery climate is going to allow her teacher to stress individual challenge, short-term goals, and improvement.  Robin is going to be able to work at her own pace and will be able to see for herself her capabilities during her participation in physical activity.  This type of environment will also be good for Kate, whereas she will be able to feel successful, when in most cases she is not when compared to her other peers in the class, and she can develop adaptive motivational patterns. 
                Though Kate and Robin have two completely diverse individual differences when it comes to their personal achievement motivation, it seems that their teacher will be able to incorporate a mastery climate by using the TARGET principles and it will help them both to enhance their adaptive motivational profiles.  Robin being a low achiever will be able to grasp her capabilities while learning in this type of environment, and being encouraged to do so will only allow her to develop higher motivational skills.  Kate already being a high achiever, will be able to work individually on her more difficult skills and will soon be able to achieve higher skills while being able to see her own individual areas that seek improvement. 
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. pp. 117-128. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Wigfield, Allan, & Eccles, J.S. (2000). Expectany-value theory of achievement motivation. Contempory Educational Psychology, 25, 68-81. Retrieved from doi: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1015

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time to get back up in that saddle!

Recently, for the past 4 weeks, I have been so caught up in work and school that I haven’t given myself enough time set aside to workout.  I used to be an avid athlete and lifting and running is what makes me happy, calm and collective.  I just haven’t been myself lately and I’ve been losing sleep, been irritable, and just downright rude to people.  I know all I need to do is work on my time management skills in order to be able to have the time, energy and motivation to want to work out and be myself again. 
I have written up a six week workout plan and I fully intend on following it.  I have set it up so I am lifting four days a week, as well as some sort of cardio five days a week.  My main objective is to feel better about myself and get my body back to the way it was a few months ago. 
More specific goals to follow on my way to obtaining this objective are:
1.       Cut down on fats, high sugar foods, and alcohol.  One bad decision leads to another, and eating healthy is going to help maintain my confidence through this six week phase.
2.       My running sessions are going to take place in the morning prior to any school or work activity.  This will allow me to concentrate strictly on one task at a time as well as put me in a mood to be ready to start my day. 
3.       In previous plans, my lifting has leaded me to maximal outputs.  However, this time around I want to maintain rather than put on muscle.  I am not training for sports anymore, rather I am training to keep fit and feel good about myself. 
4.       Lifting sessions will take place at the end of my day, they will allow me to take out any aggression and let loose and get my mind from a long day of stress.    
This past month, there have been multiple tasks thrown at me that have resulted in me not following through with my workouts.  Whether it be because I am too tired when I get home, have other things either around the house or other work to do, or because it just doesn’t feel like there is enough hours in the day to get things done and working out has to suffer because of it. 
I have devised a plan that is going to put an end to all of the excuses.  I have written up workout plans for my roommates who are also interested in getting back into shape.  My three roommates and I are all going to hold each other accountable.  Though they are boys and have different intentions while working out (i.e.: get their beach bods on), we can still go together and follow some similar models.  The morning and night sessions work for all of us and we are going to force one another to stick together and get through this six week phase. 
If by chance someone misses a session, there surely needs to be consequences.  We have decided that if any one of us misses, we all have to increase our cardio for the week.  Whether it be adding some hill sprints, or adding more distance forcing us to add a sixth day to our plan for the week.  We are doing this together and need to stick together as a team.  If one person fails to follow our goals, we all fail. 
Not only is it motivating to want to be able to get back into my skinny jeans from a few months ago, but it is also motivating to be with my friends.  Instead of sitting on the couch playing video games, or going out to the bars and drinking beer together, we are all going to work out together and keep each other going.  I enjoy that I will be working out with these boys.  They are just as competitive, especially if a girl can lift more in the weight room, and they are my best friends and we are all going to give each other nonsense to keep us going and want to do better than one another. 
We have already begun to follow this phase.  So far so good, we had our cardio session this morning and will be meeting together to have our lifting session this evening, followed by a healthy meal for dinner together.  During these next six weeks, my roommates and I are going to become closer than ever and are going to be the fit people we once were.  I’m sure it is going to be hard and I am not going to feel motivated to do anything once in a while, but together we are going to be successful and meet our goals. 
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. pp. 101-108. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
*Format of behavior plan (Gill & Williams, 2008).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Working Hard for the Money

I am a personal trainer and have the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of different people every day of my life.  I enjoy being able to improve people’s lifestyles and be able to encourage them in making their lives better through physical activity.  People who come to me generally want an escape from their everyday lives.  For an hour out of their day, I am that time away from work, family, bills, household chores, or whatever else they have on their minds. 
One of my clients is a financial manager working long hours.  With such great responsibility comes a large amount stress.  Each session we have together she tells me how stressed she is and that working out with me helps to keep her mind off of the everyday stressors accumulating at the office.  It is my responsibility to be sure to incorporate stress management and emotional control techniques into our sessions together. 
Stress is a huge part of all of our everyday lives and has a large impact on our health and well-beings.  Mental stress, also known as psychosocial stressors, account for about 40% of the overall heart attack risk as well as comparable risks of other medical conditions and diseases (Esch, Duckstein, Welke, Stefano, & Braun, 2007). 
Knowing some of the negative effects stress can have on a person has led many researchers to develop various strategies and techniques in order to improve the side effects.  These therapies and techniques are keyed into relieving and coping with stressors without necessarily avoiding or getting rid of them (Esch, Duckstein, Welke, Stefano, & Braun, 2007).   
It has been known for quite some time now that physical activity and exercise is a beneficial way of coping with stress and improving one’s lifestyle.  In fact, the Public Health Report (1985) supports that physical activity and exercise can help to alleviate symptoms of depression, improve self confidence, self esteem, and social skills, reduce symptoms of anxiety, and may alter aspects of the stress response. 
Lazarus & Folkman’s (1984) stress and coping research helped to support that stress can be prevented and reduced through either emotionally focused stress management techniques or problem focused stress management techniques (Bond, & Bunce, 2000).  The emotion focused intervention will increase her ability to cope with workplace stressors and the problem focused techniques will allow her to be able to identify and alleviate stressors that raise her stress levels. 
All of our sessions will contain either aerobic or anaerobic exercises, while alternating with strength training exercises as well as the application of stress management techniques and emotional control skills.  At the end of each session, we will incorporate a cool down phase.  Within this phase we will be able to work on breathing exercises and other relaxation exercises as well as imagery in order for complete relaxation before returning to the stressors of her hectic everyday life.  I may even suggest for her to enroll in some sort of either yoga or tai chi class in order to achieve thorough relaxation
According to Gill & Williams (2008), stress management techniques are great psychological skills, and emotional control skills are able to enhance the physical activity experience as well as life skills.  Through each session with me, she will not only achieve high levels of physical activity, but she will also come away feeling better and improving her lifestyle in order to overcome her workplace stressors she has to tend to. 
Bond, F.W., & Bunce, D. (2000). Mediators of change in emotion-focused and problem-focused. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(1), 156-163. Retrieved from doi: 10.1037//1076-8998.5.1.156
Esch, T., Duckstein, J., Welke, J., Stefano, G., & Braun, V. (2007). Mind/body techniques for physiological and psychological stress reduction: stress management via tai chi training – a pilot study. Medical Science Monitor, 13(11), 488-497. Retrieved from doi: N/A
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. pp. 196-202. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Taylor, B., Sallis, J.F., & Needle, R. (1985). Physical activity and exercise to achieve health-related physical fitness components. Public Health Reports, 100(2), 195-202. Retrieved from doi: N/A