7 Essential Tips for Effective Classroom Management in Physical Education

With increasing class sizes in the gym, maintaining order can become difficult if you do not have the proper guidelines in place. Check out my 7 strategies for maintaining order through effective PE classroom management below.

While it is different from that of an ordinary classroom, classroom management in physical education relies on many of the same principles: setting reasonable expectations, sticking to them consistently, modifying the rules for students who require help and maintaining vigilance.

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Effective Classroom Management Strategies

  • Create routines for entering the gym or outside play area, getting out equipment, beginning games, putting equipment away and exiting class. Once students know what to expect, they will be able to channel their excitement and energy into meaningful action.
  • Learn your students’ names. This is the singular most important tactic in ensuring an efficient classroom. Teachers who take the time to learn the names of all students can provide timely feedback (positive or corrective) as needed from across the gym and often stop off-task behavior before it involves other students
  • Back to Wall. When teaching, circulate around the gym with your back to the wall. This allows you to always face the students and stop off-task behavior as it is getting started. Turning your back on students might encourage students to engage in off-task behaviors.
  • Proximity Control. Teachers who are successful with class management are constantly moving. If, as a result of scanning the classroom, the teacher sees behavior that is detrimental to the learning environment, the teacher can move within close proximity to the perpetrator(s) and undesirable behavior will often cease.
  • It is said that good teachers have eyes in the back of their heads. The ability of teachers to know what is going on even if they are not watching a student or group of students is a skill that comes from knowing the students you teach. You need to be scanning the learning environment and processing what is happening in the gym. With practice you will be able to watch one student while talking with another.
  • Verbal Positive Reinforcement. “I like the way Susie and Mark walked to put away their equipment. Susie and Mark, please put the equipment away again so we can all watch.” Positively pinpointing students reinforces the students who are on task and encourages students who are off task to do what is asked.
  • Consequences for Behavior. Having consequences clearly posted next to the gym rules and consistently enforcing them, is a strong step for encouraging students to take responsibility for their own actions. If you do this……then this will happen!

There are so many PE teachers (elementary and secondary) that have effective behavior management strategies already in place. For those of you who have a successful strategy- please share below!

5 Responses

  1. I really like your advice about classroom management. I have a very challenging class with 5-6 kids that disrupts the rest of the children What do you do in that case?


  2. Hi Ron,
    I have had those classrooms before. My first step is to communicate with the classroom teacher and the parents, and come up with a behavior plan. After this communication takes place, an individualized contract is made for each student. Parents seem very supportive. We usually have a folder system, and that is our form of communication (between student, classroom teacher, parent and myself). A comment is given after every PE class. A motivation factor is involved. If the student has a good week, he would be able to do something fun that he enjoys at home or at school for a certain amount of time. Most parents at our school set the reward/consequence system for their child. We encourage that. I hope that helps.

  3. Hi Terri,
    I saw in your post with Ron about a Folder System? Could you explain more to me how you use it. Jeff

  4. I have two classes that are 50 plus kids. The problem I am having is that there is no consequence for their actions. The program that is set up for discipline works if someone shows up to pick up the kids to take them to detention. I have at least 8 to 10 kids in these classes that are out of control the minute they walk into the door. Any suggestions. My other classes run smooth for the most part.

  5. What about nick names? Our gym teacher called the kids nick names like Tiny Tim or Nemo. What strategy can I suggest he use besides name calling?

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