Over the years, I have heard many physical education teachers make statements such as, “Don’t they understand that we are different?” or “This doesn’t pertain to me, so why should I be here?” Comments like these are typically made when a policy or expectation is made for all faculty and the Physical Education teacher for some reason believes that he or she should be exempt from its implementation or participation.
While at times I understand why physical educators express these comments, personally I think this line of thinking is at the very least self-serving, and at the worst dangerous to us as a profession. It’s vital that we think of ourselves first and foremost as part of the school teaching community. And we need to act as such if we want others to value us as an important part of the educational system.
Most recently the concept of being different has centered around the implementation of Student Learning Objectives (SLO.) Many physical education teachers and administrators I speak with are opposed to the idea of giving a cognitive assessment as a measure of student growth in physical education.
To support a student’s physical literacy journey, health and physical education teachers need to consider and use all the skills and resources at their disposal. By effectively doing this, teachers can create learning environments that enhance their students’ development of physically active and healthy lifestyles. Additionally however, we believe that to provide students with the wide range of experiences vital to creating the necessary levels of confidence, self-efficacy and motivation for students to choose physically active and healthy lifestyles, teachers also need the critical support of many others.
A wide range of teaching issues including planning, lesson delivery, and assessment impact the success of health and physical education teaching. Less often considered is the importance of role modeling. According to Cardinal and Cardinal (2001) role modeling is a powerful teaching tool. However, getting students to choose to be physically active and healthy depends on more than just good role modeling by health and physical educators. This critical lifestyle choice needs to be supported schoolwide, in students’ homes, and across the community. Within these different environments students face choices that will impact their physical activity and health habits. Consequently, in order to develop physical literacy through physically active and healthy lifestyles, it’s critical students are exposed to positive role models throughout their entire “community”.
When trying to understand the composition of a student’s “community”, it’s important to consider who students are in regular contact with daily. In addition to health and physical educators, students spend a considerable amount of time each day with other teachers and school employees, family, and their extended community of peers and adults. Below, we examine the possible role and impact of each of these “players” within a student’s “community.”
Like many coaches and teachers across the country, once in a while I come up with what turns out to be a new and effective teaching strategy. New ideas often come to me while at professional conferences, reading online, or simply talking with colleagues. I then take the idea and modify it to best fit my teaching environment. One such idea I’d like to share with you is a take-home activity journal.
When my girls were in school, I can remember them bringing home a classroom journal. They had to spend time writing about a topic that had been introduced on in class. In physical education, I once heard a teacher talk about giving their students small stuffed animals to play with at home, then encouraging them to write about the experience in a journal. In one instance, the kids were even given permission to take the animal on vacation with them and write about it.
My version of physical education journaling comes from this idea. I call it “Fun With Buddy.” “Buddy” is a stuffed animal. It’s one of those monkeys with really long arms and legs that have Velcro on them. I was able to get these donated to my program and have acquired 12 of them. This covers all of our grade 1-3 classrooms. Our principal was able to find book money to get us grade-level appropriate books that support being physically active. I put together a journal with blank pages. Each page has a space for the kids to write about what they did with Buddy over the weekend. The pages also have a place for the kids to either draw a picture of what they did, or to stick a photo of them in action with Buddy. And to keep all the items secure, our Home and School Association (H.S.A.) donated string bags.
Assessing the skills and physical fitness of students with disabilities can be challenging. Most physical educators are used to assessing general non-disabled students, but many don’t have the know-how and experience of testing and planning activities for students with disabilities (especially students with severe/multiple disability). Assessment is vital for skill and fitness prescription and for students with disabilities individualized assessment is critical. The following information gives physical educators who teach students with disabilities many practical suggestions for appropriate motor skills testing and fitness programming .
General Guidelines for Successful Skill and Fitness Testing
Motivation can be a problem for many students with disabilities because they lack the intrinsic understanding and concept of giving “100%” effort. Physical educators may need to find extra motivating factors for students to perform at their potential. For example, in the long jump teachers could have students with disabilities reach out and jump to a buddy, jump out for a favorite toy, or jump over a colored rope. Students could also reach for a ball or toy during sit-ups and Sit & Reach tests or listen to their favorite music on a treadmill test for motivation. Motorized treadmills are excellent for cardiovascular endurance training and testing because they provide a “steady pace.”
Watch Free Livestream Keynote Video Now! This year we were fortunate to hear five talented individuals share how they view physical education as a part of the whole. Each keynoter shared different ways of thinking that were uplifting, transformational, funny, and inspirational. I have provided a few of my thoughts below on each keynoter with a link to their talks.