Described an “Inspirational and Master Teacher” by the Maryland Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Skip Lee has cultivated greater appreciation and respect for Physical Education in Anne Arundel County. He has taught for 15 years, holds a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervisions and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from the University of Maryland. His accomplishments are many including being named the National Association of Sport and Physical Education Secondary Teacher of the Year (2004) and the recipient of the Simon A. McNeely Honor Award (2003) recognizing outstanding contributions to the field of Physical Education. Mr. Lee is a multi-year recipient of Who’s Who Among American Teachers and is this year’s Track & Field Coach of the Year by The Washington Post. He is currently a member of the MSDE Voluntary State Curriculum Writing Committee charged with determining the direction of Physical Education for the state. Mr. Lee is a devoted husband t wife Kristen, a father to three boys, a Deacon in his Church, and works with the Ocean City Beach Patrol during the summer training lifeguards on the beach.
How has the way you teach changed over the course of your career?
I believe the most drastic change in the manner in which I teach has come in the form of how I attempt to teach each child individually instead of the class as a whole. College prepared me to approach teaching in a specific way that differs greatly from the way in which I have found to be most effective. I started teaching with the intention of helping students become masterful in the skills of Physical Education, but now I tend to be more associative in my approach. This has expanded my classroom immensely and has provided the students with more to gain from their experiences.
The lessons I have learned center mostly around “why” students learn and not so much about how they learn. When the information presented is meaningful, worthwhile, and relevant, kids seem to embrace the learning opportunities. When it is forced, coerced, or mandated, they resist.
What advice would you give to a teacher who's starting their first year and feels overwhelmed?
I believe the best advice that a beginning teacher should have in the first year is to be diligent in learning the curriculum, seek and cultivate a relationship with an experienced educator who is willing to help (mentor) along the way, and keep the focus on why one decided to become a teacher in the first place.
You will get bogged-down in the day-to-day grind. Not every student is willing to put forth the effort required to learn, but there is hope even for him or her. Parents leave their prized possessions in your hands for a significant period of time everyday and expect great things. Nonetheless, beginning teachers can be successful, are important to the school community, and have the potential to impact society in many positive ways. You WILL make a difference!
How do you involve the community in your classroom?
The community has a major stake in the lessons and learning experiences I present to the physical education students of Chesapeake High School. We hold a health fair in our gymnasium and invite the community to come and participate during the day and evening, which features local businesses and practices that are all related to health. We sponsor a community “Run Club” that meets in the evening where avid and beginner runners can meet, get coaching pointers, and pursue healthy activities. I also invite guest speakers into the classroom to present information about injury prevention, rehabilitation, and weight control, which students use in practical applications.
How do you keep your students engaged in the classroom?
I believe that the reasons students look forward to physical education and coming to Mr. Lee’s class have to do as much with the element of surprise as it does with the joy of participation. No one is ever certain of exactly what is proposed for the day in my class, but they do know it will be fun, meaningful and creative. We may capture a flag, go for a nature walk, read a book, research a topic on the Internet or play a game of ultimate Frisbee.
Another proposal as to why students remain engaged in learning while in my class is that they quickly and clearly see the benefits of doing what I assign them to do in terms of improved physical abilities and strong health assessments. Students learn how all eleven fitness components are inter-related and how completing the assignments I present have a positive effect on the body.