“Search for the good in our students and rescue those who need help.”
[0:02] Join the PE search and rescue team. At the end of this Huddle, you’ll know why I want you to join!
[0:28] Recently, I drove by a Planet Fitness Gym and Fitness Club, and it had a large 20 ft sign on the front of the building that said, “Welcome to the Judgement Free Zone”. I immediately thought of physical education classes opening the school year on a positive note. If adults want to belong to a club that is a judgment free zone, why wouldn’t kids want the same sort of respect and atmosphere? Our country is polarized over many issues, and it is keeping us from moving forward as a society. In my opinion, teaching kids to be tolerant and less judgmental is a great start toward getting classes to work together.
How to create a more tolerant environment.
[1:10] It should be a goal for all physical educators to create a more tolerant environment in their classes. What does a tolerant environment look like?
- It includes all children in all skill instruction, game activities, and social experiences.
- Activities being presented are “within reach” of the entire class. Yes, some students will be challenged more than others, but everyone is important and valued for their effort.
- The general focus of the class is on the process of participating, socializing, and learning new skills. Winning does not supersede active participation, learning, and joy of movement.
- Group outcomes far outweigh individual achievement. Even at the professional level of sport, we talk about group cohesion and playing as a team. What a meaningful goal for physical education teachers – getting your students to think about others and work toward a common goal.
- It integrates social and emotional learning throughout the physical education lesson. Think of all the opportunities to teach important social and emotional issues that will serve students for a lifetime. Memories of winning a game will be short-lived in contrast to learning about issues such as defusing bullies, helping others, understanding personal differences, and accepting that we are all different.
What is a playful teacher?
[2:36] Try to be a bit more playful as a teacher and avoid taking yourself so seriously. However, don’t interpret this as a suggestion to create a “roll out the ball and play” environment. In fact, rolling out the ball allows the most skilled and dominant students to control everything. This is when bullies thrive. I am also not suggesting you try to get involved in their games and play. Rather, I am advocating you encourage, organize, reinforce, and rearrange the environment to make more kids successful. I am often asked, what is a playful teacher? I find it hard to define, but I can sure identify it when I see it. I think playful teachers:
- Welcome and greets students with enthusiasm.
- Smile often; laugh at themselves; and share a laugh with the group.
- Are unpredictable; stop a lesson and refocus, introduce a different activity, or even admit to the class, “I didn’t teach that activity clearly, let me try again”.
- Play music, enthusiastically tell the class what they are going to learn or take advantage of a teachable SEL moment.
- Start the lesson with an activity that all students can perform so everyone feels they can be successful.
- End their lessons with an enjoyable closing activity that leaves all students with a positive taste in their mouth.
[4:07] As you all know, I am a strong advocate for teaching in physical education. We can teach, learn, and play within a positive, playful, and tolerant environment. We can make attitudes and feelings a priority. We talk much about teaching our students to be active for a lifetime. One of the best ways is to offer an environment that is exciting, inviting, and playful. When adults are active, they almost always are playing and participating in recreational activity. Lifetime activity and play are powerful partners.
Join the Search and Rescue Team
[4:43] You may have wondered why I titled this article, “Join the Search and Rescue Team”. I have enjoyed the great outdoors throughout my lifetime. When someone gets lost out hiking, we immediately send out a search and rescue team. We spare no effort to find the lost person and revel in our success if it turns out positive. I think we teachers belong to a “search and rescue” team. We search for the good in our students and rescue those who need help. As you start the year off, think carefully about the “lost” students in your class who need support. You never know when your behavior and response to them may rescue them. Many of us remember that “one teacher” who made all the difference to us because they believed in us. Start the year off on a search and rescue mission and find the best in all your students.
[5:37] Thanks for being teachers. Never forget that you make a difference. Make our society stronger through tolerance and understanding for your students.