Take Time to Evaluate
written by Isobel
hope this finds you enjoying a change of pace, freedom from
bells, and some quality time to do something frivolous. I
also hope that you can take a look back to evaluate your program,
decide what needs changing, figure out what "got
your goat" during the school year, and come
up with some realistic ideas so you do not have to endure
frustration in the coming one. After all, we are professionals
and in many ways self-improvement is what being professional
Let's identify the important issues facing the generation
we teach, understand and explain why some change is necessary,
and have some thoughts about credible solutions. And yes,
let us use some of the summer - with the emotional distance
it allows us - to get the creative juices flowing.
I believe the biggest issue of the day - no pun intended
- is obesity, not just in children but in their parents and
many of their role models. Face it. Kids eat too many empty
calories and do nothing to burn them off. What is worse, if
they "diet," research shows that for most the diet
will not succeed over the long term. We watch kids become
more and more sedentary, and watch school districts compound
the problem by not mandating daily physical education. The
long and the short of it is that we must get the kids moving,
and we must get them to love moving.
We must get them to have gross motor movement as part of their
everyday routine, and help them to change destructive patterns
Questions worth asking:
- Are our kids enjoying their time with us? If not, why?
- Do kids prefer to sit out? Why?
What can we do about it?
- Should we re-evaluate the dress
code? How we deal with it? How we explain the reason for
it? Or, should we modify the rules by having kids keep an
extra set of clothing in school at all times in case the
clothes they wear for gym get soiled, torn, or for whatever
reason need changing once class is over? If we do that,
the dreaded need to change might alleviate most of the problem.
- Are there departmental inconsistencies,
and if so can we reduce them?
- Are there problems in the locker
room, and how can we eliminate them?
- What can we do to get rid of the
feeling of staleness?
- How should we respond to poor
sportsmanship, bad language, and bullying?
- How can we develop and promote
- What can we include in our program
that is new?
- How can make our program respond
to the issues of the day?
You need to be consistent and so must your colleagues. The
best ways to get there is to draw up a student contract that
includes expectations for attendance, preparation, participation,
excuses (medical or parental) and grading policy, and have
the entire department agree to its terms. Then, post it on
the web, distribute it in the summer mailing, go over it the
first day of school, and have your students bring it home
so that the parents can see it. To make sure that they do,
have the parents sign it and keep a file of signed contracts.
Think about the kids' issues. Find
ways to help or empathize. These were my students':
- They hated having so little time to dress.
- They liked to learn, but they
also wanted to have fun.
- They didn’t like feeling
belittled or intimidated by classmates (or teachers).
- They liked to do more than play
games and compete.
- They wanted a sense of self-worth.
- They wanted to feel important
to classmates and their teacher.
- They wanted to have access to
equipment the minute they came to class.
Don't underestimate the need to begin the year with good
- Locker room organization and safety
really count! If you don’t believe me read Too
Dangerous to Teach, a non-fiction novel about a physical
education teacher. It gives insight into locker room problems
(both funny and infuriating). Kids need to lock things securely.
When they forget combinations, or put locks on a wrong locker,
they will need your help.
- Keep a good filing system -
one for their name, one for the serial number on their
lock, and one for the locker - and keep them in class
sets until you are able to file them.
- Make sure the kids fill out
the cards properly and that they record the information
in something they are likely to have with them daily.
(Memo pad, etc.)
- Have the kids who are using
combination locks for the first time practice opening
them, repeatedly, so that they memorize the number sequence
and are confident they can open the locker before they
lock their things inside.
- Set up a central Lost and Found.
- Collect pictures to post on your
bulletin board that synchronize with your
teaching units. They should make the activity exciting looking,
and be examples of proper form for every new unit.
- Identify students
who need help and those who can give it. Encourage cooperative
behavior in class, and be personally available to help the
needy and encourage the high achiever to do the same.
- Get students used to your class
routine early on.
- What to do out of the locker
- how to take and return equipment,
- how to take and return equipment,
- and how to conclude each lesson.
Think about your responses to the typical negative things
kids do and, instead of doing the usual (giving zeros, detention,
calling home, removing kids from activity and/or class) come
up with unique ways to turn them around.
- Try using praise when you're not angry, then build on
- Admit to needing help, and put
a difficult kid in charge of something.
- Conspire with parents to withhold
Christmas or birthday or presents or allowances if the kids
don't turn around.
- Do not tolerate bullying, bad
sportsmanship, foul language, or unsafe behavior. Stop the
student from playing until he or she apologizes to you and
- When behavior is not acceptable
and occurs repeatedly, have the student write a report on
what they should have done.
- Ask colleagues to share the ploys
they used successfully for changing bad situations.
Examine your curriculum, year by year, and make sure that
by the time the kids graduate they have had a variety of experiences
in individual and dual sports, self-testing activities, team
sports, creative activities, dance - all kinds - and if possible,
Attack the biggest personal problem of our time - obesity
- by using every possible minute to keep the kids moving,
as well as teaching them to understand the necessity of being
physical and to maintain their correct body mass. That means
spending some summer time thinking about how to make the mechanic
aspects of class organization a lot more fluid so that the
organizational part of class doesn't detract from the objective
of keeping your class moving.
I know, as you do, that we have a difficult task addressing
the issues we believe important, especially in the political
environment we are teaching in, but that doesn't make it impossible.
So think ahead, plan ahead, and reach for what is best for
Hope this has helped and that you have had a great summer.
Author of Complete
Physical Education Plans for Grades 5-12
to pelinks4u homepage)