Top 5 PE Tips: Advice for New Teachers

This month I am going to share some tips and tricks for teachers in their first year of teaching, and really anyone looking for ways to make things easier. I remember my first year of teaching and thinking I can tackle the world, only to find out that there were things that student-teaching did not prepare me for as well as I had hoped. Here’s a list of 5 tips of advice for new teachers.Advice for New Teachers Image

1. Keep It Simple to Start

My biggest piece of advice for new teachers is to keep it simple to start! If you are like me and your first teaching position is a solo mission, things can get overwhelming very quickly. Remember you do not need to reinvent the wheel, so pick your teaching units based on what you feel most confident in teaching to start the school year. I recommend starting this way to get yourself into a groove. This will allow you to get comfortable with your surroundings and get to know your new students.

2. Learn Names as Quickly as Possible

This leads me to my next tip, and that is do everything you can to learn your student’s names as quickly as possible. A great trick that I tried, and it worked well, is to find your new school’s yearbook from the previous year. While there are students who move in and out of the school district between school years, most of the students will be returning. Taking a couple minutes in the weeks leading to the start of the school year to start memorizing names and faces is a great way to make your new students feel welcomed and that you really care! I taught at a K-6 elementary school and there were a lot of kids, and I am not saying I had them all memorized, but I had a great start. I also made a deadline for myself to know all my students’ names that way it forced me to know them quickly.

3. Organize Equipment During the Summer

Organizing your physical education equipment during the summer is also a terrific way to set yourself up to have a great school year. It is important to know what you have to work with so that you do not start planning a unit only to realize that you are short equipment. This will also help you when it is time to determine what you will purchase with your budget. It is crazy to think this, but in my current district I’m required to have my budget list finished and submitted by the end of October for the following school year.

4. Set Clear Expectations on Day One

A simple, but thoughtful set of expectations for your students from day one of the school year is also a must for successful school year. Creating a syllabus with these expectations listed is important, and yes, I recommend this even at the elementary level maybe just simplified. You can give your students a copy of this and/or post it on your school website. Being upfront and clear with your expectations sets the tone for your students and again will make the year much more enjoyable for everyone.

5. Find a Mentor

My final suggestion would be to find an experienced physical education teacher in your school district, a neighboring school district, or even online that you feel comfortable talking to or asking questions. I was blessed to have a mentor teacher during my first year of teaching that was extremely passionate about teaching physical education and was always available to answer my calls or emails. I was even able to take a day to shadow him at his elementary school to get some ideas for a couple of units. This was a huge confidence booster for me in my first year of teaching! So, reach out and find that teacher or if you are lucky, teachers who you can count on to help you.

If you are struggling to find someone to reach out to, please do not hesitate to contact me. I don’t have all the answers but will help you in every way I can because we are a family of PE teachers, and we must all stick together.

I strongly recommend you search through all the blogs posted on Gopher. There are some amazing professionals posting blogs for Gopher, and they have amazing ideas and suggestions. And like me, they would be more than willing to help a fellow PE teacher in need! Please take these first-year teaching tips and apply them to your teaching this fall. If you have any suggestions of your own, please add them in the comment section below!

3 Responses

  1. Hi Jason,
    I just began researching PE blogs because have already started my new school year this week. I was hired last year in my first teaching gig; however, it was in the middle of the school year so it was quite the transition.
    One thing I struggle with is finding lesson plans and activities for the high school level. Do you have any good resources you could share? I am located in an inner city school district where gym is only liked by about 10% of the student population (and that’s only if they are allowed to play basketball).
    If you have any good resources to use I would appreciate it!

  2. Hi Kelly!
    I apologize for not getting back to you sooner! I hope that your new school year is off to a great start! One of the hardest parts of our job is getting students to understand the benefits of exercise. It is also difficult to get students to try new things. I have been teaching for more than 15 years and I still have students that put up walls to every idea I throw at them. It is a battle, but a battle that I refuse to give up on and I make sure my students know that I am going to keep trying to get them involved.

    I also applaud you for searching out new ideas! I will say that the Gopher Blog is filled with great ideas from a lot of excellent teachers throughout the United States and Canada! This blog is an excellent resource for activity ideas and tips and strategies that even veteran teachers can take full advantage!

    Dr. Robert Pangrazi is an outstanding educator, who has written many books and resources and I encourage you to dig in to some of his thoughts! Gopher is also working with Dr. Pangrazi to release all of his lesson plans that he has created over the years on their website. This a free resource that is filled with tons of great lessons. Right now I know the lower grade levels are on and you can peruse for ideas that you can maybe modify to fit your needs.

    From a personal perspective, I would explain to your students that you love basketball and that it is a great way to exercise, but that even the greatest basketball players do other forms of exercise to help them be better basketball players. Do some research on some famous players and talk to your students about what other sports they played or enjoy playing. I know Stef Curry loves playing golf! This could be a way to open their eyes to other activities. You could also explain that NBA players also workout and do strength training and flexibility training. This could be a great way to introduce them to strength training or circuit training, maybe even Pilates or Yoga. I am not sure if this will help with your situation or not, but it is a way to show them that you care about what they love and you are trying to help them become a better player!

    Another suggestion would be to create a survey listing all of the activities you can do in class for the entire school year. Ask your students to rank the list of activities 1 to the end with 1 being the one they like the most. I would also ask them to list any activity that you don’t have listed that they would like to see you add. Hopefully by showing them that you value their opinions and then doing those activities you will see an increase in participation.

    I also encourage you to find workshops, conferences, or webinars to seek new ideas. Webinars are a great way to get ideas from the comfort of your home. Workshops and conferences are a great way to not only get ideas from presenters, but it is also a great time to network with other PE teachers and ask questions and get ideas. I am not sure where you live, but I host a PE Summit every August that is free and full of great ideas and lots of great teachers attend and share ideas and talk about things they do in class too. It is a great day filled with excellent content.
    I hope this was a helpful response and if you need more ideas or thoughts feel free to email me anytime,

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