Two weeks before school started this year, a late resignation left Edgecomb Eddy School without a physical education teacher. This left Principal Ira Michaud in a tough spot. He was faced with finding a part-time instructor with the new school year starting. Michaud had a couple options: Shuffle teachers’ schedules to accommodate hiring another part-time instructor, or hire himself as a part-time phys. ed instructor. He considered his options and took the job teaching pre-kindergarten through grade six students on Fridays this school year.
So on Sept. 7, Michaud forwent his normal collared shirt and slacks for a bluish-grey T-shirt, black shorts and a whistle. This was a stark new look for Michaud, who has worked at the school for three years. This year, the plan was for him to teach sixth grade literacy and do his administrative duties. “Our phys. ed teacher accepted a full-time position. I had already sent out schedules to teachers, and any option I went with would involve shuffling the schedules,” he said.
In his eight years as an elementary school teacher and five as an administrator, Michaud had taught every subject but phys. ed. As he accepted the challenge, Michaud became convinced it was actually a great opportunity. In his three years as Edgecomb Eddy principal, he hadn’t developed as strong a rapport with the younger students as he had with the older ones. So teaching three periods a week which involved the entire school provided Michaud with a unique opportunity. “I have been wanting to spend more direct time with students in an instructional capacity, so I saw this one day a week as a great opportunity for connecting with the students and seeing them in a different light.”
He sought help from former colleagues, MSAD 11 instructors Beth Mazzerole and Stephanie Nadeau, who familiarized him with various available phys. ed teaching resources. “They were both an enormous help in my preparation. They shared resources with me such as the Online Physical Education Network (OPEN) and curriculum maps which have been instrumental in my feeling prepared in teaching this discipline.”
Teaching all his phys. ed classes on Fridays makes balancing his teaching and administrative duties easier. He teaches all grade levels in three separate instruction sessions: 9-9:40 a.m., 10:15-10:55 a.m. and 12:40 p.m.-1:20 p.m. He begins his Friday administrative duties during recesses and lunch, and devotes himself to his primary job after 2 p.m. As an educator, Michaud has seen a different side of elementary school students through his phys. ed teaching. The biggest challenge is gauging the educational needs for a wide and diverse grade span. “What a pre-K student needs to learn compared to a sixth grader varies greatly. Learning about how diverse the instruction would be and preparing appropriately for such a quick change was the steepest part of my learning curve,” he said. “But I have a better understanding and a rhythm now, and the days are running smoothly.”
So after 15 weeks, what is Michaud’s reaction to teaching 100-plus elementary school students phys. ed? “It’s been a lot of fun. I really enjoy it,” he said. “I go home Fridays with more cheer ever since becoming an administrator.”
Even though Michaud enjoys teaching phys. ed, he won’t be continuing the job next year. He plans on hiring a part-time instructor and returning to his administrative duties and teaching one literacy class next year.