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Taking Tribesports into the classroom

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Posted by Jeffrey S of South High Women's Swimming and Diving under Swimming, Fitness & Training on 20 October 2013 at 11:00 PM

SHAWA Swim CAPSEvery day in life we are faced with “challenges”. As an elementary physical education teacher and a high school swimming coach, I am constantly faced with the challenge of keeping my students and athletes interested in what I am trying to teach.  

I ask myself every day - “How will I motivate my students today so they will be successful tomorrow?”  What are my “Learning Targets” going to be? 

I joined a local Health Club (YWCA) this past June, 2013. I wanted to begin a swimming program just for me.  I was excited!  I had a medical physical the week before and I was cleared by my Doctor to begin a much needed change to my life.  I have always put my students and athletes’ needs ahead of my own.  It was time for some me time!  The very same day that I joined my Health Club, I noticed a small advertisement about tribesports.com on the internet.  I researched it for a while and really liked what I was reading.  So I signed up!  

My first day I swam a total of 700 yards with a few stops and rests along the way.  That evening my wife and I began our first Tribesports Challenge.  It’s my personal favorite, “The Core Challenge”.  Wow, was it tough! By the third day I was swimming a broken 1 mile set and able to hold both of my 1 minute planks from the Core Challenge.  I was on my way!

During the next several weeks I was able to build up my swimming endurance to two miles without stopping.  It was something that I have never have done before.  I didn’t miss a day of swimming for next 31 days.  Along the way I joined a few Tribes and took various Challenges.  I kept finding myself coming back to the Core Workout  It was during this time that I had my first “aha” moment. The question that I had earlier about how to keep my students interested this year was starting to motivate me.  I thought that if Tribesports Challenges are working for me and motivating me, it should certainly work for my students and swimmers?

So here we go with a new challenge!

Six a.m. comes early for the SHAWA high school girls swimming and diving team.  SHAWA stands for South High Aquatics Washburn Aquatics from Minneapolis, MN USA.  The girls anxiously waiting for today’s “Warm-up set Challenge”:
Warm Up Challenge

  • 1 minute plank
  • 1 x 400 yard swim front crawl
  • 10 push-ups
  • 1 x 300 yard pull
  • 25 crunches
  • 1 x 200 yard (dps) distance per stroke drill
  • 25 squats
  • 1 x 100 yard specialty stroke drill
  • 30 lunges (15 each leg)
  • 1 x 50 yard sprint front crawl
  • 1 minute and 30 second plank
  • 1 x 25 yard (uw) swim under water for breath control
  • 2 minute wall squat

After one day the swim team was intrigued and after one week they were hooked.  The kids would yell out “extra 5 seconds” as we were finishing a wall squat and “extra 30 seconds” as we were finishing a plank.  

SHAWA team performing the plank

Wow, instant motivation!  We continued for the next two weeks weaving Tribesports Challenges into our various swim sets.  Motivation is built by their successes, both individually and as a team.  We have since seen our girls’ times drop during competitions.  We won our first meet in two years and our SHAWA team has created a “Challenge” to share with other teams.

Dare to take the “SHAWA Team Challenge!”  This is a great team building exercise.  We were able to get the parents involved.  Have them be a part of the challenge by timing and encouraging the kids.

  • SHAWA Team runningRun 1 mile (timed)
  • 100 push-ups (timed - 5 minute limit)
  • 100 crunches (timed - 5 minute limit)
  • 100 jumping jacks (timed - 5 minute limit)
  • 100 mountain climbers (timed - 5 minute limit)
  • Swim 1 x 1000 yard (timed)
  • Swim 8 x 25 yards butterfly/get out at each end and do 10 push-ups (timed)

The successes we were having with the SHAWA swim team led to my next “aha” moment:  

Why not see if it will work for my physical education students.

As part of professional development as a Physical Education Teacher I wanted to incorporate technology into my classroom (the gym).  A perfect opportunity! Tribesports has already done much of the work for me.  They have supplied me with the most awesome Challenges.  Not only are they tested by thousands of Challenge takers around the world who continually share their knowledge, Tribesports have provided professionally done posters of these Challenges.  I am able to project these Challenges on the gym wall so everyone in my class can see them from where ever they are.  

A co-worker and I introduced the Core Workout as part of our daily warm-ups for our middle school students (grades 6th – 8th).  At first there was grumbling and negative push-back. We heard things like “I’m not doing that, it looks weird”. We asked them to only do what they could do.  Adapt it to meet their needs.  We then asked them to try it for 1 week, think about it over the weekend, and on Monday give us their honest opinion about the Challenge exercises. Then if you don’t want to continue the Challenges anymore, we won’t.  When Monday came, we were impressed by the number of kids that wanted to continue.  We heard some of our students say ”I showed this to my mom”,  “My little brother and sister did them with me”,  “My dad helped me with my push-ups” and the one that brought me to my next “aha” moment:

Let’s see if our classroom teachers can do it.

8th graders planking

Since we began we decided to change the Challenge routine every two weeks.

We now send these challenges out in a weekly staff email.  I copy the Tribesports Challenge poster and say “This is what your students are doing during Physical Education, can you do it?  Dare to take the P.E. Challenge with us!"  I have since received many replies.  

“What’s a plank?”  “I tried it!” “This is hard, but I am up for the challenge!” 

They were beginning to become hooked!  Some of the teachers are having discussions about some of the various Challenges.  We now have 8 staff members who are regularly trying the Challenges. Occasionally, they come into class with the students and do it with them. 

We plan to share our success with whoever is ready for the next Challenge.   

Tribesports has made a huge difference for me.  By using Challenges in my daily routines I am better able to balance my personal workouts with the needs of my students and athletes. 

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