Back-to-School PE Checklist
Summer is ending and back-to-school season is right around the corner. Use this checklist, inlcuding forms and paperwork, curriculum, technology, and equipment, to help you get ready for the new school year.
Back to School: Be Inspired!
As a former HPE teacher and teacher educator for 25 + years, I still enjoy the excitement and anticipation the new school year brings. September is always a time of new challenges, opportunities, and renewed visions for what we hope to accomplish in our HPE programs to ensure our students lead healthy active lives long after they graduate from school.
This past month, I delivered a summer professional learning course at OISE, along with two of my colleagues Michael Sinukoff and Eva Roser, both HPE teacher leaders in the Greater Toronto Area. It left me feeling inspired and re-energized from the 50 teachers we worked with; some aspiring to teach HPE for the very first time while others are leading the way to quality HPE programs.
On our last day of the course, we were challenged by my husband, Ted. He’s an award-winning former HPE teacher, author, health and physical literacy champion, and world-renowned speaker who believes in maximizing teacher success, and unlocking the potential of ALL students to “reimagine” HPE and to actualize the principles of the UNESCO Quality Physical Education Document.
UNESCO (2015) states,
“Despite the recognized power of physical education, we are seeing a global decline in its delivery. This is helping to fuel a global health crisis – conservative estimates consider physical inactivity as accounting for 6 per cent of global mortality. This is the pledge inspiring these Guidelines – to mobilize stakeholders and resources in order to ensure the provision of quality physical education to young people across the world, regardless of their socio-economic situation, ethnicity, culture or gender.”
Are you feeling up to the challenge? Wanting some back to school inspiration? Here are four ways to get you started:
1. Sign up for Ted’s Morning High Five email series
Start the year with the inspiration, motivation, and information you need to reimagine HPE for your school. Ted shares strategies to dignify HPE in your community, best practices around the world and ways in which to get your stakeholders (e.g., parents, staff, administrators, community partnerships) on board with your vision for HPE.
2. Back-to-School Essentials
Check out innovative equipment that can inspire hours of physical activity, play and new games, such as Speedminton, disc golf, and much more for your HPE program this school year! Shop back-to-school essentials here.
3. Survey your students
Ask about what games, activities and sports they enjoy and clearly communicate the learning outcomes/goals of your PE program to your students, staff and parents.
4. Refer to the Physical Literacy Checklist
Use this checklist by PHE Canada to guide your teaching practice with respect to i) planning for student learning; ii) creating an environment for student learning; iii) using teaching strategies and skills for student learning iv) modelling exemplar teaching and professionalism
READY, SET, GO! Share what inspires you for Back to School below.
Back to School: Tips to Tackle the New School Year
It’s hard to believe another school year is right around the corner. For many teachers, the thought of getting back to it is overwhelming. Thinking about organizing new students, new schedules, equipment, paperwork, etc. can be stressful. However, if you get started early, the transition back to the classroom can be enjoyable. I have provided a few tips to help teachers at least “get the ball rolling” before that first day back with students is upon us.
TIP 1: Curriculum
Many of you have been teaching for years, so understanding the scope and sequence of your lessons is not as difficult. However, having new lesson ideas for the students, whether it is new activities or trying out the use of infusing technology, is a great way to continue teaching quality physical education lessons. Many successful teachers have suggested laying out your units ahead of time to make sure you have the necessary equipment to ensure developmentally appropriate practices. Check out Nutrition Curriculum and Physical Education resources here.
TIP 2: Equipment
Get in that equipment room and find out what you have and what you need. This helps when laying out your curriculum by content area and/or units ahead of time. Over the summer many items, such as playground balls, soccer balls, and basketballs can deflate. Foam balls that you may not have used in awhile may not be in condition to be reused. Getting that equipment room ready to go can really make your life easier once the year begins. Shop back-to-school essentials and replenishment items.
TIP 3: Students
Regardless of how long you have taught, you are going to experience new students. Getting your classroom schedule with student names early is a great way to get ahead and start planning how attendance will be taken, what kind of partners or groups you can begin thinking about, and how to plan the culture of your classroom atmosphere. Another aspect of dealing with students early that is often overlooked is learning your students ability levels and those that will need more modifications depending on the content and activities involved in your planned curriculum.
TIP 4: Technology
Realize that using technology in your classroom is not just for the students’ enjoyment and success. Many technology tools can assist you and make your day-to-day routine more effective and efficient.
Start early and begin looking into what Apps or tools you can incorporate. Whether the reason is for assisting you with attendance, making teams/groups, music, curriculum ideas, or assessment, there is an App or tool to help you. Check out a quick blog for some immediate ideas about using Apps in your class. Read more blog articles about Technology in P.E.
TIP 5: Activity Space
Make sure you walk your field or activity space to make sure it is safe before students are back. This often goes unnoticed and can be negligent on your part if something goes wrong during your class. Over the summer many things can happen to your space whether it’s a field or gymnasium. Check for glass, debris, fence or wall damage just to make sure your students are safe.
Although there are many more ideas to remember to start the new school year, hopefully these tips will get you back in the mode of planning. Get moving and start organizing early! Good luck!
10 Tips for a Successful School Year
Back to school season is right around the corner! Get ready with these 10 tips for a successful school year, including organization, attitude, planning, and equipment. Don't forget to share your tips below!
1. Be a team player.
As teachers, we need to be flexible and help others when we can. I am not just talking about with our students, but with our fellow teachers and administrators. Learn all new staff member’s names and take a moment to welcome them. Being in a new environment or school can be stressful; you can help ease some anxiety and create relationships that only be benefit a school by being united.
2. Organize your storage closet.
Start your year off by knowing exactly what equipment you have and where it’s stored in your storage room. Label all boxes and containers clearly, so you don’t have to rummage through them looking for something. If you need boxes or storage containers always check with your cafeteria staff. They receive crates of all sizes and sturdy boxes in their weekly shipments.
This is also a great time to take an inventory, so you know what your purchases needs are for the year and create that dream list. What’s on my dream list this year? TRX Commercial Trainer 12-Pack …I dream BIG.
3. Be prepared.
Lesson plans are your friends. Know what objective you’re going to teach and what equipment you need to accomplish that. I keep a folder on my desktop, labeled “PE Activities”, and add to it year after year. Each game or activity is a separate word document complete with everything I need to know about how to play it, including the National and/or State Standards the game provides. Having this file makes piecing my lesson plans together a breeze, simply copy and paste.
4. Vertically align your lessons and equipment used for the week.
I teach grades K-8th and want to make my day go as smoothly as possible. Transitioning from one age group to the complete opposite end can present a challenge at times. I try to use the same equipment all day long but change the activities to fit the needs for the different levels.
For example, volleyball. Setting up the net and taking it down is not an easy task, so once it’s up we are keeping it up all day. Therefore, my lessons may look like this for the week:
- 6th-8th Volleyball skills
- 3rd-5th Nukem
- K-2nd Clean your room
All of these lessons use the volleyball net, but provide a different activity that’s more age appropriate for my students.
5. Designate a space for equipment used that week.
Find an area, whether it be in your office, storage closet, or corner of your gym, to place all your equipment used for that week. This is a major saver for me! It helps to start my day off easier by having everything need for the week in one spot instead of having to hunt down various items from storage each day. At the end of the week, replace the items with the following week’s equipment.
6. Visualize and mentally walk through your weekly schedule.
Write it out and post it in several locations throughout your gym. This helps me to know at-a-glance when I need to transition equipment for a different age group and not be caught off guard. Every day of the week is a different schedule for me, so having it posted in more than one location helps me to stay on track.
Sounds kind of silly, right? But seriously with all the easy access to technology at our fingertips, kids nowadays don’t know how to play and socially interact with one another on the playground. Teach them games they can play with no equipment. Show them what equipment is available for recess use and how to properly store the equipment after they are done. Also, explain that they need to notify someone if equipment breaks.
8. Be consistent and practice procedures.
Know what procedures you want to set in place before your students set foot in the gym. Take the extra time to practice them with your students. Don’t settle or move on until they do what’s expected. This may take extra time at the beginning of the year, but it will be worth it.
9. Study the previous year’s yearbook.
Yearbooks are a great tool to refresh your memory or familiarize yourself with your students’ names and photos. Of course, not all your same students will be returning and there will be some new faces too, so don’t spend a lot of time memorizing.
One of my favorite things in the mornings is to greet kids at the crosswalk by their name. Emotions are all over the place the first week back to school, what a comforting feeling to the families and students too that you remember them and are excited to see them.
The worst advice I hear given to teachers in my opinion, is to not smile until Christmas or else they’ll walk all over you. Wrong. You can be firm and let your students know you mean business and be nice about it. Children need to know they are loved. So smile, and be their example about how they should be treating others.
Writing this post makes me so excited for my upcoming school year. We have such a wonderful gift of opportunity to make a difference in our students’ lives. Take advantage of teaching the next generation how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Good luck to you and have an amazing school year!
Planning for Back to School in P.E.
It’s hard to believe but summer is winding down and the back-to-school ads are on TV, so it is time to start planning for a great school year. Every year at this time, I have a million thoughts running through my head on what to do first and will I have enough time to get it all done. So, here are some thoughts on how to plan for the year ahead, whether it is your first or last year teaching!
Unit and Lesson Plans
Layout a rough calendar of the year ahead.
This ensures you have a general guideline for when and what activities you will teach throughout the year. Hopefully you and your colleagues have a framework to go by in your curriculum; but if you do not, this is a great time to start organizing one to help guide your instruction. If you are a first-year teacher, I recommend starting with the first 6 weeks!
Establish routines before the first day.
I can remember my first day of school and I thought I had everything under control. Little did I know that the year before there were no routines and plenty of chaos, so be prepared for your best plans to backfire! Be ready to think on your feet and if you need ideas or suggestions ask other teachers even if they are not PE teachers!
If you team-teach, I encourage you to meet with your team to discus and organize your thoughts and approach to how you all want the year to progress. I am very thankful to work with a great team of educators! We all share a passion for what we do and love trying new ideas in an effort to improve our program!
Organize your equipment
I have an older brother who loves to give me a rough time about being a PE teacher and how I better make sure I have my ball pump and a needle ready so I can start the year! Little does he know that I have 2 ball pumps, but it is way more than that!
Now is the time to be organizing your equipment along with checking everything to make sure it is in good working order! This is the time of year that I am sure to have all of the equipment in our fitness center serviced and cleaned in preparation for the heavy usage that occurs during the school year. It is also a great time to again make sure all of your equipment is ready for the first 6 weeks of lessons.
Some recommend cataloging all of your equipment so you are certain to know what you have and what you need to order to start the school year. I completely agree with this philosophy, but will honestly admit that I have never found the time to do this for our equipment. This might be the year that we make it happen, and I hope you are all able to as well! Check out inventory tips or shop back-to-school equipment essentials!
Plan the big stuff!
First year teachers, this message is for you! PLAN THE BIG STUFF!! I can’t stress enough on how important it is to plan your big events now. Get the dates on the school calendar, reserve the spaces that you will use, and most importantly, start asking for help now.
Field Day is a huge event and one that takes a lot of time and organization! Waiting until the last minute is sure to cause you stress and sleepless nights. Here are a few tips for planning for Field Day:
- Ask your administrator and more importantly classroom teachers, if they can fill you in on what has been done in the past
- Do not commit to keeping it the same until you have had time to process what they have told you
- Think about all of the details and how YOU want the day to go before you begin sharing your ideas
- Then, once you have your thoughts collected get the ball rolling. You will be a much happier person in the spring if you start the process now
If your school has done any other special events in the past, be sure to check on those as well. I know I found out in late October that in the past my elementary school had always done Turkey Trot right before Thanksgiving. I was blindsided by the amount of work it took to pull this event off and actually picked up the frozen turkeys the morning of the event!
In an effort to re-energize and provide yourself with new ideas and the opportunity to be around other PE teachers, try to find a conference or teacher development day that you can attend before school starts. If you can’t find one, I strongly encourage you to start one at your own school and invite as many PE teachers as possible. Some school districts are large enough that they hold their own PE professional development days before the school year begins, but some school districts, like mine, are not big enough to do this type of event alone.
Last year, my team and I organized an event that brought about 50 PE teachers together for one day in August to learn some new activities and strategies. We are thankful that we are able to do this again this year and hope to make it a yearly tradition. You are all welcome to join us!
If you are unable to make an event before the school year starts, be sure to look ahead and see if there is a conference that you could attend to further your education in the field. It is always wonderful to be around other PE teachers, share ideas, and listen to experiences. Remember that this year the National SHAPE America Convention hits Nashville in March. I hope to attend and see you all there!
I know that for some back-to-school is a dreaded time of year, but I like to think of it as an opportunity. It is our chance to impart some wisdom to young children in an effort to make them a little more healthy and active. I wish you all a fantastic start to your school year and if I can ever help, please let me know!
Beginning of the School Year Ideas
Throughout this blog I am going to provide random thoughts (from lessons learned to ideas I have seen others use) centered around the beginning of the school year. When I was about 10 years old, I remember our neighbor saying, “You have the most random thoughts.” Well 40 years later, and here goes, you get to experience what everyone in my life experiences: the randomness of Aaron.
Back to school is an exciting time full of anticipation and sometimes apprehension because of the unknown. Hopefully these ideas will lead to brainstorming that results in ideas that allow you to kick your year off with excitement and optimism.
1. Take an inventory.
If you haven’t done an inventory, how do you know what you have to teach with? As soon as you get finished reading this life changing blog, please go take an inventory. It will help you tremendously as you plan for the year. Check out my previous blog on Inventory Tips.
2. Develop a curriculum and yearly plan.
Once you know what equipment you have, you can plan your curriculum (assuming you know how frequently you have your students). If you don’t have a sequentially, thoughtfully, planned curriculum, I encourage you to consider going through the process throughout the school year. It is a long process but will be well worth your time.
See my previous post for steps to develop a curriculum. In the meantime, at least lay out a calendar of the entire year so you know what you will teach and when. This will ensure you have a balanced curriculum and allows you to plan lessons around seasons, assemblies, holidays, etc.
3. Integrate cooperative activities early.
As you plan your calendar, consider doing cooperative activities early in the year. Reviewing the rules is a typical beginning of the year activity; however, integrating activities to establish your gymnasium climate works well. Activities should foster cooperation, listening, communicating with more than your voice, and just getting to know each other in the context of physical education. One favorite is “In a Line.” Below is a very basic version of this challenge. There are many other creative ways to use this activity.
- A basic challenge is for students are asked to get in a line alphabetically by their first name.
- Another is to ask students to put their hands behind their backs. Without gestures or using their mouth, they must get in order of their birth month. The line starts with January and ends with December. This activity opens the doors for communication. Specifically, words are not the only way we communicate.
Note: this activity will take longer with younger students and they may need help. Also, as with all cooperative activities, a creative set-up for the challenge helps and a debriefing to discuss what is learned is essential.
4. Teach recess activities.
5. Create a positive, safe culture.
One of my biggest challenges when I was teaching was to start the year creating a learning climate. I wanted to get to the content right away and often neglected this step. I had the rest of the year to teach content, but I didn’t realize it. Now I look at this as “pay me now or pay me later”. Spending the early part of the year establishing protocol, letting students get to know me, and more importantly getting to know each class and each student is SOOOO worth the time. It allows teachers to tailor instruction based on what you know about the class and students. Without this step, I wasn’t teaching students, I was teaching my content. As I have said in other blogs, the students we teach are far more important than the content we teach.
6. Smile…all the time.
We don’t smile enough as teachers. Do you LOVE your job? Let your face show it. Let your colleagues know it. And PLEASE, let your students know it. Smile so much other people wonder what you are up to. Try it for a day. It will make your life so much better.
7. Be mindful of patience.
Those who know me are likely saying, “He’s writing about patience?” I am probably the most impatient person on earth so this is a battle for me. Be patient with your new ideas. Reflect on them and make changes. Be patient with your students as they learn who you are and what your expectations are. Be patient with parents. You all are on the same team. They want what’s best for their kids, just like you do. Be patient with colleagues. Who knows what they are going through. Be patient with administrators. I believe most administrators care about the health and well-being of youth…and teachers. However, believe it or not, at times, that might not be their priority.
8. Learn something new about every student…asap.
This one takes work. Ask them what they enjoy. Find out about their superhero shirt. For high schoolers, find out about their job. The vast majority of humans love talking about themselves. See if I’m wrong. Tell them you love having them in class. Smile…all the time (Have I said that before?). It makes you approachable. This also takes being cognizant of the quiet student. Please don’t let them fall through the cracks. Our ability to teach is entirely dependent on our ability to get to know students and connect.
9. Make a plan for phone calls home.
I love phone calls home, positive phone calls. For this reason, I spent many a planning period early in the year calling every child’s parents to let them know I loved having them in class and telling them something specific I liked about their child. Work? Oh yes. Tedious? At times. Worth it? YES. Many parents have never heard the school say anything positive about their children. This helps build a bridge between you, the child, and home. It also helps establish rapport with parents if you have issues in the future. Oh, and my first year, I wouldn’t be above making one of my first calls home be to the PTA president. Networking!
10. Take care of yourself.
The early part of the year can be hectic. Please don’t neglect yourself. Get some you time, stretch (being on your feet all day can sneak up on you), laugh a lot (even at yourself), and do things you enjoy. Burnout is real. Don’t let it steal your spirit and your passion.
Four of my ideas are content related, the last six are about people. This year, consider making it your goal to focus on people. Parents, colleagues, students. That one tough student who grinds on you. Find out more about her. That one colleague who never smiles. Say, “Hi”, build a “no strings attached, I just want to know you” relationship. Via the school of hard knocks, I have found, and am still learning that life, in the school and out of the school, is so much better when my priority is people. The rest falls in place nicely. Have a great year!
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more tips and ideas!
Check out more Blogs by Aaron!
Back to School P.E. Teacher Checklist
The start of the school year brings excitement for the year ahead and the opportunity to help students build healthy minds and bodies, but then there’s that familiar feeling of, oh boy, I’m not organized yet! It can be so overwhelming. Where should I begin? How did I get ready last year? Where’s my checklist?
I’ve yet to meet a teacher who didn’t fret over getting organized for the upcoming school year. Teachers love being ready when the students arrive, and we want to provide the best year and experience possible. My organization practices are ever evolving, and I absolutely love hearing about other teachers’ organization tips, tricks, and hacks.
Here is my “Beginning of the Year Checklist” that helps my department organize our start of year process. Our checklist helps guide our efforts and delegate responsibilities so we are ready for our students on day one. This checklist came about because of the many post-it notes and notepad lists I repeatedly found myself making each year. I eventually began typing up the basic, recurring tasks we did each year and developed a comprehensive checklist to guide our beginning of the year workdays. It’s nice to have a starting point versus starting over from scratch each year. I simply print off a copy, add or remove to-do items, and assign tasks. Here’s access to an electronic copy of the template you see below: Checklist Template.
General recommendations for Back-to-School Organizational Processes:
- Start an electronic “to-do” list in addition to the written ones so you have a starting point each year.
- Be flexible. You may not get to it all but identify the MUST DO items and get to those first.
- Have organizational support materials on hand: file folders, highlighters, note pads, file trays, etc. so you are ready and able to quickly organize your material.
- Scan documents into PDFs and file electronically. Thankfully, our office printer has this option. I scan and save work orders, purchase orders, equipment wish lists, inventory lists, and syllabi to a department-wide shared folder. Being able to search for things electronically versus losing them in the many piles of papers that build up in the office helps maintain some sanity.
- Delegate. Don’t do it all yourself if you work in a department. We’re all in this together.
- Make a “Start of the Year” folder where you save the beginning of the year checklist and templates for your class syllabi and policies. Share this folder with your colleagues if you work in a department.
- Ask others how they organize their start-of-the-year process. This is a great topic to search for on Twitter or ask others about on Voxer. See my previous blog (Web-Based Toolbox for Professional Development) on how to get connected via these social media options.
Sample Checklist for Start of the Year:
Rosters, Forms, Signs & Copies
Locker Room, Office & Presentations
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Curriculum & Department Planning
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Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends, and topics!
Check out more Blogs by Jessica!
Back to School- The Importance of First Day Fun!
The first month of school can be a challenging time for physical education departments... So, ensure your students bring a postive attitude to your class all year long with my tips below!
Tip 1: Save the "Business of P.E." for Week 2
Good teachers want to jump right in with energizing lessons but organizational tasks, including uniform checks and locker assignments. This often leaves teachers covering each others classes and trying to manage "glorified recess" in an environment where no one knows the kids very well.
My suggestion is to put the “business of physical education” off until the second or even the third week of school. In the first week, I recommend using low-skill, low-aerobic activities and cooperative games that require minimal equipment and space. Play music and have fun. Activity stations such as rock-paper-scissors, juggling, ring toss, and hula hoops can be a fun warm-up activities and everyone can hold onto summer a little longer with activities requiring beach balls.
Tip 2: One Class Expectation Per Day
Quality physical education requires teachers to discuss class expectations with their students, and it is important to create a safe physical and emotional environment from the first moment of class.
I recommend dividing those discussions and activities up into four or five separate 10 minute lessons, one for each day of the first week, and you can reinforce lessons from previous days, and provide fun activities that support students getting to know each other and building fine motor skills.
Another great first week plan for any department is to teach what I call “General Games”. Our school has three games that are appropriate for all grade levels and work well with 30-100 students. Every teacher uses the same rules and strategies so that students from any combination of classes can play together. This helps the whole department because one teacher can supervise large groups of students while lockers and uniforms are being handled.
If the first few days of physical education class are fun and active, students will bring a better attitude to class all year long.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends, and tips!
Check out more Blogs by Suzanne!
Ready, Set, Go: Your Top 10 Back-to-School Keys to Success
It’s that time of year again-- put away the flip-flops and get out those tennies.
How and what we plan in these last few weeks before the start up of school will determine the success of your program. Being organized now will help ensure success later.
Top 10 Back-to-School Keys to Success:
- Create your semester outline
- Develop your student calendar
- Write your daily lesson plans
2. Create Your Course Syllabus
- Expectations/Rules and consequences signs
- Dress and grading plan
3. Compose Your Letter to Parents
- What to expect from your PE program
- Dress and grading requirements
- Welcome parents to visit
- Update your school website
- Welcome back, Nutrition and Fitness Tips, Safety, School Pride, etc.
- Make them colorful and inviting – ask students to read them
- Check out poster and banners here
5. Music Preparation
- Stay current; avoid inappropriate language
- Organize your playlists
- Clean and organize
- Assure equipment is in working condition
7. Prepare Your Grade Book
8. Purchase Orders for Equipment
- Check school budget and ordering policies for the year
- Make sure you have the essentials!
9. Facility Sharing
- Know who is where and when... this also applies to equipment
- Know the school first aid policy
- Ensure first aid kit is ready to go
- Establish your first contact for help
- Use walkie-talkies and/or cell phones
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas and tips!