In this episode of The PE Geek podcast, we speak with student teacher Kristin Trusa about how she’s been able to engage her students using video remotely.
Connect with Kristin on Twitter
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The PE Geek: (silence).
All right. Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 115 of the PE Geek Podcast. And as always, it's a real pleasure to have you here. And I'm joined today by Kristin. Where are you joining us from?
Kristin Trusa: I'm joining you right now from Northern New Jersey.
The PE Geek: Wow. So it's like talking through different time zones. Here I am in Australia, it's a Saturday morning and for you it must be approaching the end of the week and-
Kristin Trusa: Yeah.
The PE Geek: ... have you got anything exciting planned for the weekend?
Kristin Trusa: Unfortunately, not really because you can't really go anywhere. Hopefully the weather will be nice so I could get outside a little bit.
The PE Geek: Nice. Nice. Now I recently came into interconnection with you via Twitter, and I'd seen some of the amazing work that you are doing. I think when you're like teaching round, like the placement that you ended up on with some high school students. And we'll talk about that in a moment, but I'm very curious to find out how and why you decided to go down this profession, this PA teaching career.
Kristin Trusa: So I think really, a lot of it has to come from my parents because I grew up in a family of teachers. And once my time came to start thinking about my career path, I wanted to go away from the teaching aspect because I was like, "Everyone in my family's a teacher, why don't I try something different?" So once I started looking at schools, I was thinking about broadcast journalism. And then my mom and I started teaching swim lessons together one summer, and that was kind of like my aha moment when I actually got to see firsthand the works that a teacher gets to do. You get to build a relationship with a kid and they trust you to teach them how to do a skill or how to learn something new.
And when I got that connection and I saw the benefits of that connection, I knew I had to be a teacher the rest of my life.
The PE Geek: Yeah, that's so awesome. And as your mom, what does she teach? She'll be teacher too, or-
Kristin Trusa: Yeah, she's actually a PE teacher. She has been teaching for a little over 20 years now and she is at the elementary level.
The PE Geek: So you've got this great chance to be able to reflect and talk and connect with her. And isn't it amazing that you probably like, cause I think gymnastics played a big role in your younger years and you were probably on the opposite side of having people that were great role models for you in that sport. And then you got to it from the other side. So how does that play into your time now, your early years in gymnastics?
Kristin Trusa: So I first started gymnastics right when I was about three years old. And that video was very similar to how I started just with the forward rolls, very basic stuff. And then my gym closed and then I started getting into other sports. So I played soccer when I was younger and I just wanted to try any sport I could. So gymnastics kind of got put on the back burner a little bit. And then I picked it up again around like fourth, fifth grade and did it for a couple more years. And then I started getting into basketball and tennis and those ended up being my two main sports throughout high school. And then once I got to college and they had a club team, I got back into it and got to pick it up again.
The PE Geek: Yeah. Amazing stuff. So yeah, I find there's a common thread amongst people who end up sometimes in this space and they've got some sport or activity that they are fond of. And I think that's a great bedrock because you will come across students that are the same and there's a great way for you to connect there. So thinking into your recent tweets, you obviously just finished some sort of placement or working with a group of high school students in-
Kristin Trusa: Yes.
The PE Geek: ... the final part of your year. Like what were you up to there?
Kristin Trusa: So for the requirements for student teaching in Pennsylvania, there's a 12 week requirement. And we have a K through 12 certification. So half of those weeks have to be spent at a secondary level, which could be middle or high school. And then the rest of your weeks will be spent at an elementary level. So luckily I got to do my first eight weeks at Pleasant Valley High School in Pennsylvania. and I was pleasantly surprised. I did not think I was going to enjoy high school as much as I did. And I honestly loved every second of it.
The PE Geek: Yeah. Awesome. So you managed to get eight weeks in and is that around the time that everything was suspended and you had to stop?
Kristin Trusa: Yeah. So I got very lucky because my last day at the school that afternoon was when they shut down Pennsylvania schools for two weeks at the time and then eventually indefinitely.
The PE Geek: Yeah. Amazing. It's just done. It's so crazy to even think that that would be something that would have been a mere thought as you were starting your placement. But I'm really excited and encouraged by your progression here because even since you've left out of that student teaching environment, you've continued to develop and build materials for students. And I don't think that's something that all student teachers would be doing. I think it takes a very special person to be continually improving themselves and sharing.
So one of the things that caught my attention was your use of Screencast-O-Matic. And for those people that aren't aware, it's a screen recording tool and it's even more, so you can do more of it than that. So what led you to take that on and continue to build stuff for your students?
Kristin Trusa: So the first couple of weeks, once schools closed and nobody really knew what the future had in store, our professors actually came together and made a plan for us for the next couple of weeks, so we could still get certified and graduate in May. And their idea was to make videos about skills that we would have taught to our students at our next placement. So we have to create a unit plan that usually involves six lessons. So we have to make at least six videos about each of those lessons to show that we can teach a skill.
The PE Geek: Beautiful. And obviously that leads you down the path for experimenting with a variety of different tools and so forth. And you've picked Screencast-O-Matic. For people listening, like, is this difficult to use or is it quite straightforward?
Kristin Trusa: It's actually very easy. So one of my friends at PSA, Jessica Bacone cook was the one who showed me about it and how to use it because I made the videos through iMovie, but I was having trouble exporting the video to upload it. And she showed me about Screencast-O-Matic and she said that it can record your screen and it could record the video. And even if other teachers decide to use it and they want to show their screen to their classroom recorder, it can be used for that as well.
The PE Geek: Yeah. It's quite flexible in its use cases. So a nice little video editor, but yeah, it's a great way for you to show what's on your screen and talk through the things that you're doing. And obviously now you've got to a stage where you've added in some weekly challenges as well. Like what's the deal with them? What are you trying to achieve here?
Kristin Trusa: So those weekly challenges are also a part of those videos that we're supposed to make to continue to get certified. And those videos, we can still send to our mentor teachers that we would have worked with at our next placement. And the goal is to create at least two different challenges within our video that we have for the students to try and work on their skills.
The PE Geek: Awesome. So my next question is, how did you actually end up on Twitter? Because ever since I first got started on Twitter in 2008, there wasn't anyone else as a PE teacher online, but over the years that's really changed. And I'm very curious to see how you've ended up in that space, given that you're just at the start of your career.
Kristin Trusa: So I think I have a personal Twitter and I've had that for a couple of years. And then I went to the SHAPE Eastern District conference when it was in Vermont. And I believe somebody there mentioned about health and phys ed Twitter and how large it is and how you can connect with people. And I love Twitter as it is. So once I heard that there was a health and PE Twitter, I was like, "I have to get on this." And ever since then, it's really exploded.
The PE Geek: Yeah, it has. It's a tremendous resource and you can take it at any level. You can sit there and consume and learn from people, but you can do what you're doing, which is like really creating content and putting it back out into the world. So I think in terms of a student teacher, who's doing all they can to be the best for their students, I'm incredibly impressed with what it is that you're up to. So what's got you most excited about when you finally get into the class that's yours?
Kristin Trusa: I think the most exciting thing for me is being able to actually talk and connect with those students. Like I said, when I was placed at a high school, I was pretty hesitant about it because I was only in high school a couple years ago. So I feel like I look very young and I wanted people to take me still seriously, but still have fun with them. And I feel like I made so many great connections with those students and it just made the job so much more fun and it was really tough leaving them. And I'm just looking forward to when I finally have my own classroom getting a whole year of that instead of only eight weeks.
The PE Geek: Yeah. Just like you said, you get the opportunity to do more. And it looks like you were able to create such an impact in a short period of time that's only going to be magnified when it's your class. And you get to take it however you like. So I want to thank you for coming on. Anyone who wanted to follow along and go and see those videos that you've made available on your Twitter, where can people do that? What's your Twitter handle?
Kristin Trusa: My Twitter handle is just @kristentrusa.
The PE Geek: Okay. Nice, awesome stuff. So I'll make sure that there's a link in the show notes for this episode for all the stuff that we've spoken about and yeah, it's been a real treat. So thank you again for stopping by the show.
Kristin Trusa: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.
The PE Geek: Got you.