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The Times They Are A Changing


The New Normal?

With the uncertainty that COVID has brought to our profession, I want to look at the evolution of Physical Education and how we have changed and evolved throughout the years.

You can research and trace the early reasons for the development of Physical Education in the United States, and it is interesting to note that early Physical Education training was supported by the idea that it contributed not only to the physical well-being of a child, but also to their social, emotional, and intellectual development. But as I focus on my memories of Physical Education, I don’t see that reflected in any of my experiences.

My earliest memories of physical education, involved many of the following activities:

  • Kickball
  • Running around the track
  • Dodgeball
  • Playing various sports (basketball, softball, football, etc.) with no skill training to perform the sport.

If you were good at sports, you loved attending Physical Education. Unfortunately, the students who did not have a sport skill set or background hated to attend Physical Education class—and we know about all the horror stories of playing dodgeball! There were no health lessons and most of the physical education teachers I had growing up were assigned to teach the class but their focus and passion was to coach high school sports. My wife recently stated that if Physical Education classes were the way that we teach today, she would have loved attending the class and would have learned many skills necessary today for lifetime activities.

Oh, how things have changed.

Our current trends in Physical Education focus on the whole child with emphasis on the following standards from SHAPE America.

Standard 1: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.

Standard 2: The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics related to movement and performance.

Standard 3: The physically literate individual demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.

Standard 4: The physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.

Standard 5: The physically literate individual recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and/or social interaction.

Even though current standards represent the tenets of the development of physical education, the pendulum clearly swung far from that foundation before coming back. Now with COVID affecting all parts of our lives, what will our model for instruction look like for the coming year? I have seen many models listed and here are some of the most common.

  • Face-to-face instruction with safety measures involving social distancing and wearing masks in Physical Education.
  • Remote learning, although altered from what students received in the spring.
  • A hybrid model between the two.
  • Splitting the schedule, where half the students would attend on certain days of the week.
  • Give parental choice on whether they want students to work at home or remotely.

Whatever happens for the start of the school year, we must change as Physical Educators and adapt to the new normal. If we had not evolved from the type of Physical Education my wife and I received as children, we would not be where we are today. We have constantly adapted to new norms and updated standards, and I believe what we provide for our students in the most vital part of education. We affect the whole child and with all the uncertainty that the pandemic has brought, I believe we as professionals will lead the charge of the new normal. Dr. Robert Pangrazi recently wrote a blog about change and stated that “I am an optimist and I always live with a ray of hope in my soul that even on my darkest days things will get better.” Let’s all strive to be the driving force of change as we approach whatever the new school year holds for us.

Keep Calm and Stay Positive!


  • Chris Nichols

    Chris has been a Physical Educator for 25 years in Texas. He has been recognized as a district finalist for Teacher of the Year and formerly served as the Early Childhood Chair Elect for the Texas Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD). Chris has presented at state and national conferences and spent two years writing curriculum, creating and delivering professional development, and supporting physical education teachers as a Health and Physical Education Specialist in a large urban district. Now an elementary Physical Education teacher in Garland ISD, Chris strives to promote a healthy and physically active lifestyle in both his personal and professional life.

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