It’s summer break for most teachers right now, a well-deserved time of rest, recreation, and rejuvenation for our tireless teachers! PE and Wellness teachers (and all teachers really) across the land who strive to encourage, inspire, and educate the next generation certainly have earned and deserve this summer respite. It’s a critical time to recharge and yet it can also be a great time to reflect on our own practices and research other best practices. All dedicated teachers, no matter what year/stage of their career they are in, typically learn that self refection is important to professional forward progress. Below are my top five teacher tips in physical education and top five best practices that I’ve collected over the years. I like to share these lists with PE/Wellness teachers stemming from a 25+ year educational career as a fitness enthusiast and passionate teacher, director, and principal.
Top 5 Teacher Tips in Physical Education:
Here are the top five that helped me and many other colleagues during all stages of our educational careers to stay ahead of the curve in the PE/Wellness/Fitness realms.
- Name Game/Greet Everyone: It’s important to know EVERY student’s name in ALL of our classes. I’ve found (and all trending data supports) that kids respond better when we know them by name. Calling them by name as opposed to some sort of general reference makes a ton of difference to them. I also think it’s great to greet every student as they enter your gym, fitness area, teaching station, etc. because it helps set the tone for the day and increases connections.
- Organized: Being prepared and organized for each class speaks volumes to who you are as a teacher and is clearly indicated to students. If you are a teacher who has all of your equipment set up and ready to go, moves through progressions swiftly and efficiently, and doesn’t allow for much down time, then most kids will respond to your professionalism with a positive and attentive attitude. Most kids respond and confirm to clear and accountable expectations.
- Routines and Procedures: This component is so critical! Most students like the familiar routines in academic and active sessions. It makes them feel safe and therefore more apt to engage accordingly into the lesson. They respond more effectively when they can predict how a class will progress on a regular basis (please see below in Best Practices). When your kids know how your classes warm up and then proceed into the lesson, they will work to meet your expectations and assimilate into those routines and procedures.
- Fitness Time: Without a doubt there are tons and tons of traditional, singular, dual, team, cooperative, adventure, and other activities that can be taught in a 21st Century Wellness/PE class. The one common thread in all these activities should be a healthy dose of fitness. PE/Wellness teachers should strive to infuse fitness and/or perpetual motion blocks of time into every lesson as often as possible. It’s essential in this era of lethargy and inactivity to add daily fitness into our lessons; it might be the only movement some of your students receive.
- Adapt & Back-up Plans: Being organized and prepared (tip #2) is critical, and so is having a daily back up plan. I encourage all PE/Wellness teachers to have a daily back up plan in addition to their daily lesson plan(s). Weather, schedule snafus, poor planning of others, and equipment malfunctions can wreak havoc on your plans only if you let them. Having a bona fide back up plan ensures that your students are presented with a quality active learning session no matter what uncontrolled surroundings throw at you and them.
Top 5 Best Practices:
Here is a collection of the top five PE/Wellness/Fitness best practices that help to anchor a professional fitness, fundamental, and fun active session.
- Organized Warm-ups: I was fortunate to learn this early in my career! I always have the students jog, run through some dynamic stretches, and then line-up in predetermined lines to conduct a few critical static stretches. This activity has two essential tasks: It prepares the students’ bodies for an active session while simultaneously allowing me to take attendance without losing any active learning time. It’s important to utilize the same warm-up routines so that students can learn the warm-ups and feel confident engaging in the progressions.
- Plenty of Perfect Practice: My esteemed college taught me (and many others) this critical component. When you encourage and expect students to learn a specific skill, then we need to allow for plenty of practice to achieve proficiency. That chunk of practice time should be as upbeat and fitness orientated as possible. The more perpetual movement the better.
- Cerebral Content/Framing: It is always important to “frame the lesson” either during warm-ups or right after those warm-ups. Once I have discussed the objectives of the lesson (I usually try to share 2-3 objectives that coincide with the NASPE standards), I then strive to spend a few minutes of time discussing cerebral content that connects to fitness principles, strategies, scoring, skill development, etiquette, etc. Most times I want them to be more intelligent participants and observers of the activity that we are engaging that day, week, or unit.
- Modified Game/Game Simulation: It’s of course important to have plenty of practice related to a physical activity, pursuit, or a traditional sport being taught in your curriculum. With that being established, it’s also important to allow the students to engage in that culminating activity/sport as quickly as possible to allow for a reality perspective and/or experience. It’s important to provide a modified game or some type of game simulation as quickly as possible once you begin a new activity. Students tend to remain more engaged and excited this way.
- Fitness & Fun: As I stated in this blog and multiple blogs, it’s important to infuse fitness as often as possible. Students will learn that you expect them to be active and you will hold them accountable to those movement expectations. After all, it’s part of our job to keep kids moving! Equally as important in my book is the focus to make as many segments of your class/activity as fun as possible, within safety parameters of course. Working hard to research and/or create fun active practice sessions, lead up activities, and modified simulations will pay off in large dividends. Students will come to know and trust that you will definitely keep them active; however you’ll also make it fun and enjoyable as often as possible. That trust will go a long way.
So, these are my five teacher tips in physical education from twenty-five years of teaching, directing, administrating, and collaborating with colleagues, students, and specialists. Do you use some of these tips and practices? Do you have others to share? Please let us know! And enjoy a little rest this summer too.