We’ve all seen or read quotes from the short essays by Robert Fulghum about how all the things you really need to know you learned in kindergarten. As physical education teachers, what are the tips and best practices that we really need to know for us to provide quality physical education? I’ve put together a list of best practices for physical education teachers that will hopefully provide a bit of guidance before the school year starts.
Leaving college after four, or maybe more, years of coursework provided by college professors is a great baseline to help you when starting your career. I seldom provide a training without getting into a conversation about which edition of Dynamic Physical Education you used in college. It’s a great topic and leads to lots of in depth discussion from various age groups as we reminisce about our college days. Recently, Dr. Pangrazi uploaded his entire curriculum online for FREE at www.dynamicPEASAP.com. Books/resources like these helped us start down the path to becoming physical education teachers, but that is only the beginning.
I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented teachers throughout my career, and the knowledge colleagues can provide is invaluable. If you work in a small district and don’t have that sounding board, then social media is your friend. Recently, I joined the Twitter universe (Yes, I know I’m a little behind the times!), and I’ve been amazed at how invaluable this resource is for garnering new ideas. Start by following @GopherSport and me, @Cnicholspe, and then let yourself go down all the rabbit holes you find. Great stuff is out there just waiting for you to stumble across it!
Another great resource is state and national conventions. Living in the great state of Texas, I’m blessed with one of the most dynamic organizations for physical education, TAHPERD. The teachers I’ve encountered are so willing to share their ideas that after 23 years, I learn something new every year. We also have our SHAPE convention that always provides great presenters to help with tips and best practices.
Here are my thoughts on the most important teaching tips and best practices:
- Embrace state and national standards and utilize the district curriculum to help plan out your school year.
- Develop a “Year at a Glance” to help guide you through the lessons you will provide for students.
- Plan units around special events like the World Series or the Super Bowl. I try to be mindful of events like Heart Health month and tie in my Jump Rope for Heart unit during that time.
- Cultivate relationships with all the core teachers at your campus. We are not just physical education teachers and we can be a valuable resource for the entire school.
- Create a positive learning environment, (e.g., decorate bulletin boards, hang posters, create student-interest inventories) all centered around creating healthy lifestyles and staying active.
- Focus on and plan for solid classroom management. It’s the key to student and teacher success. My first year of teaching, I was given Harry Wong’s book, The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher. I thought, “I’ve got this, I don’t need to work on procedures, procedures, procedures.” Oh, how wrong I was! What you do during the first days of school will determine your success or failure for the rest of the year.
- Build relationships and listen to your students. They will tell you what they think. They often have great suggestions for making activities better, and they are a solid barometer for how things are going. I grow every year with input from colleagues, social media, and professional conventions, but what I have realized is all I really need to know I learned from my students.
There you have it, my teacher tips for a successful school year and career. Please share any additional ideas that you may have in the comment section below.