Wantagh Olympics Bring the Joy Back to Teaching

Wantagh Olympics Bring the Joy Back to Teaching

“Bringing back the joy” was the purpose of the Wantagh Olympics, a series of team events for Wantagh High School and Middle School teachers during Superintendent’s Conference Day on Aug. 30.

Teachers were split into 20 groups, each representing a different country, and rotated through four stations at the high school. In the main gym, they played “The Floor is Lava” and each team had to get all of its members from the sideline to a mat in the middle without touching the floor. They could only use the provided supplies such as cones, jump ropes, rubber dots and scooters. 

Creating a team cheer was each group’s task in the north gym. Teachers had to include facts about the countries they were representing in their cheers. Outside, small orange cones were set up to create a “minefield.” Each teacher had to walk through with his or her eyes closed, guided by another teacher who had to talk them through the maze without using any directional words. 

A Lego activity in the library required two steps for success. In one room, a few teachers had to look at existing Lego creations and write instructions on how to build it. Then, they passed those directions along to their teammates who had those same pieces, unassembled, and had to recreate the structure.

There were two administrative facilitators at each location, who provided an overview of the activity and awarded points. 

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Marc Ferris said that the activities reflected the four targeted student outcomes in Wantagh schools – collaboration, communication through writing and speech, problem-solving and research. He explained that the goal of the Wantagh Olympics was to get teachers thinking of new and innovative ways to engage their students in learning. They had follow-up discussions during department meetings on Aug. 31.

Dr. Ferris thanked the administrative team for their hard work all summer to ensure a year ahead that will emphasize the joys of learning, following a year in which the focus was often on health and safety protocols.

“We’re getting back to what we became teachers for,” he said.

At the elementary level, Superintendent’s Conference Day was focused on small-group instruction in reading, writing and math. A dozen of the district’s model teachers facilitated workshops for their colleagues, demonstrating engaging activities to support student learning.