Penny Kroening of Waukesha is a Physical Education Teacher of the Year

From the Department of Public Instruction ConnectED newsletter

kroeningPersonalized learning and the joy of movement are teaching touchstones for Penny Kroening of Summit View Elementary School in Waukesha, who was named 2016 Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year by SHAPE America (the national Society of Health and Physical Educators). Penny is a WEAC member and a member of WEAC Region 7.

Penny’s approach is to help students choose their own course and learn to love movement, for the sake of their lifelong well-being.

“I work very hard at helping all students identify that ‘thing’ in life that feeds their inner soul,” Penny says in a Q&A provided on the award website.

“I want all of my students to find the joy of moving, the joy of being physically engaged.”

She describes, for example, working for weeks at lunch hour with a student who wanted to be able to walk on stilts as some other classmates were doing (she also relates the humorous story of what happened when he suddenly became able to surge forward, but discovered the hard way that he also needed to learn how to turn).

Penny’s class often features personalized physical learning centers. Rather than use a timed rotation to different stations, students themselves choose how long to spend at each center: “naturally increasing their own sense of ownership in the learning process.  Students are engaged and use that engagement to focus their learning into digging deeper.”

Penny has used iPads to create “sportfolios” documenting their learning of various skills, and she has employed multiple stations with access to “Just Dance” YouTube playlists so that students can choose styles and songs that motivate them.

Penny’s selection was announced at the national SHAPE America convention in April.

Also at that event, Health and Physical Education Consultant Eileen Hare of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction participated in a panel discussion, where she urged health and physical education teachers to become part of the conversation around implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act with administrative colleagues and stakeholders. Like all DPI consultants, Hare aims to advise and guide teachers in her field at schools all over Wisconsin.