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PE Essentials You Can't Live Without!

Posted 1 year ago - by Donn Tobin

There are many pieces of equipment that I use on a regular basis, year after year.  Although the activities may change and the units tweaked, I always seem to have my go-to favorites on hand.  I had never given it much thought until a hypothetical discussion I had with my co-worker one day.

While planning and discussing the next several months of our PE curriculum, I had asked him a difficult question, "What equipment do you like using the most?".  This question not only stumped my co-worker, but also myself.  I use so many different items throughout the year it is hard to pinpoint specific ones.  He was able to rattle off about ten to twenty different items, most of which I agreed with.  But could he narrow this list down?  This was hard to do.

I took a long hard look at myself and my teaching.  I thought about the various equipment I use, how important and frequently I needed them, and pinpointed those that help me teach my lessons.  The following is a list of my most frequently used equipment in no particular order:

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1.  MP3/CD Player or Speaker System. 

I use music ALL THE TIME!  I have found (as many of you already have) that music can easily enhance a lesson or activity.  I can play a popular or fast-paced song which can pump up the children and cause them to move more.  I can set the tone on a softer, more relaxed pace with the opposite one.  I can effectively start and stop an activity just by hitting play or pause.  If I get sick of hearing songs the kids like, I can expose them to a more versed type (80’s, heavy metal, reggae, or softer style). A sound system is something I couldn't go without in my classes. Check out great electronic options for P.E.!


2.  Jump Ropes.  

Our kids jump rope very frequently.  This practice is an instant activity for warm-ups during attendance.  Starting in Kindergarten, we break down this skill and teach the children how to jump.  What was once a common practice among children at home now has dwindled down to what seems like a few.  I don’t have to tell you the wonderful benefits a child can get from this (hand-eye coordination, low impact, cardiorespiratory endurance, etc.).  We use a variety of ropes from the heavier segmented ropes to the lightweight speed rope.  One thing is for sure, by the time the children leave our elementary school in the fifth grade, they are proficient at this fundamental skill. 


3.  Dry-Erase Boards. 

This one speaks for itself.  I cannot always use my laptop and projector in my classes and certain activities may put these electronic devices at risk, yet I need to disseminate information regularly.  I believe children should be able to read in the majority of my classes.  Not only does it reinforces their ELA and math skills, but adds a dimension that enhances my lessons. I use it to write instructions, directions, cues, scoreboard, diagrams…the list goes on.  I have unfortunately broken several over the years, however, this is a go-to demand in my P.E. classes. Dry-Erase Boards


4.  Cones, cones, cones. 

Doesn’t matter if it is a 6”, 36”, dome or traditional type, I use cones constantly.  We have amassed many over the years ranging from multi-colored, to slotted (for holding poster boards).  Some have been “borrowed” by custodial staff, broken by overzealous children, or used by co-workers.  Whether I am indoors or out these are necessities. Check out the varoius cone options here.


5.  Interval Timer. 

An interval timer could possibly be one of the best investments ever.  I purchased a large display interval timer/clock for many activities and what a God-send it has been.  There always seem to be a use for them.  I like the basic features of having a clock count down the remaining time with a loud beep at the finish.  Children can easily pace or monitor themselves when working through an activity.  I challenge children with timed tasks and can be used as another great motivator in class. 


Most items on this list are teaching aides rather than true physical education equipment. What are five pieces of equipment you couldn't teach without?  Leave a comment and let us know!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends, and tips!

Check out more Blogs by Donn!


10 Things to Know Before You Start Teaching!

Posted 2 years ago - by Donn Tobin

As professional teachers, we all go through the adversity of student teaching.  This true introduction to teaching, whether positive, negative, or both, gives the candidate hope to gain enough experience to enable to hold their own when first landing a job. 

Here are 10 tips all physical education teachers should know before they begin teaching!

10 Things to Know Before You Start Teaching!

  1. Be on time. Always arrive to work on time or ahead of schedule.
  2. Plan for everything.  Sometimes things don't work out the way you had hoped.  So, whether it is a lesson, equipment, or facilities, have contingency plans.
  3. Be flexible.
  4. You're the expert. Realize that if you mess up in a lesson (as long as it is nothing major), the kids will not know the difference. 
  5. Time management. It's one of the hardest things to conquer. Initially you might take too long with a portion of your lesson, or perhaps stop a lesson too early.  I am one of those people who need to be at the airport 5 hours early, but I have become an expert at managing time. 
  6. Discipline. Create a discipline plan and stick to it. 
  7. Be friendly. Be-friend the custodial and secretarial staff members, you will need them. Smile and be coridal to co-workers... even if you don't mean it.
  8. Continue Learning. Read subject material and go to conferences.
  9. Recover your emotions.  The class that you are about to teach has no idea what happened the period before (no matter how nightmarish it was).
  10. Relax…this really does get easier the more you do it!


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Thinking back to my student teaching experience, I remember how difficult it was for me.  Back then, student teaching was compressed in only one-quarter of the college year, rather than the typical semester it now is.  I commuted from campus in my parents’ run down Chevy Blazer, driving 98 highway miles round trip to my assignment each day.  I taught high school in the morning, drove to my assigned elementary school each afternoon, followed immediately by mandatory coaching with the Varsity Field Hockey team.  Needless to say I was very busy.

Coming into the beginning of that school year, I felt very confident I would learn a ton of basic start-to-the-year procedures that I could make my own.  One of my assigned cooperating teachers was due to retire at the end of that year.  After meeting with him before the school year began, he informed me that I was his 30th student teacher.  Here this experienced teacher would definitely pass on his expertise and wisdom to me.  My expectations were one of pride; to be his last disciple in a long line of illustrious predecessors.  I was excited and nervous at this wonderful prospect.

My introduction was a shell shocking one to say the least.  In only the third day of school he told me I would teach the entire first couple of classes, with him “watching” me from his office.  The feeling of nausea was overwhelming.   I nervously asked him, “You are going to leave?  What if I need help from you?”  He responded, “I wouldn’t do this if I felt you were not ready.  I trust you.  You will be fine.”  How could he say that?!  He hardly knew me at that point.  With that he handed me his roster and left the gym completely.  I did not see him again until his (my) third period prep.  And believe me, I checked.  I frequently looked in the direction of where the PE office was, and still…nothing.  I realized that my on-the-job training became quite apparent, and I needed to do it very quickly. 

My first student teacher was “assigned” to me in my fourth year of teaching, and although at the time I most likely shouldn’t have had one, I did.   I knew that the methods used with me were not the most effective when teaching a future colleague.  I decided right then and there that I was going to be very involved in the process.  During successive years with other student teachers, I learned what works and what doesn’t, just like teaching your students.

I always am a bit guarded when I take a student teacher.  You are lending your classes to an inexperienced teacher who may or may not turn out the way you plan.   I only hope they turn out as good as, or better than me.  If the experience is not as good as you hope it may take a while for bad habits to get out of your classes when they leave. 

Enter “Robby”, my 7th student teacher.  I had heard he was a Major of the Year recipient from my alma mater, and couldn’t help but have high expectations from him.   Going in, I dreamt that he would dazzle me with the latest and greatest techniques the college had to offer.  This surely would not be a typical inexperienced teacher, and thought I might have a prodigy on my hands.  However, Robby struggled.  A lot.  I expected him to make mistakes, and to take advice and techniques from me to model from, however he wasn’t able to.  He knew his educational theory extremely well.  He was knowledgeable about a lot of subject-specific matter, but when it came to teaching actual kids, he had a hard time.  He came across as awkward to the children.  When he saw me do an activity or technique, he tried to copy it verbatim.  For whatever reason these techniques would morph into something different, and most of the time, become ineffective.  Things did not flow well naturally, which is to be expected.  However the learning curve was much steeper in his case.

One day near the end of his teaching experience, we both sat down in my office to discuss things over lunch.  Robby slumped down into the chair looking exasperated.  “Holy cow,” he blurted out.  “I am so exhausted after those four classes.  How do you do it?”

I looked him over.  He actually looked as if he was going to collapse.  “Things get easier with time,” I replied.  “You get used to it.”

He didn’t look reassured.  “I have been at this for a while now, WHY are things not getting easier?”  I noticed the tone in his voice had become higher as he spoke.  “The kids listen to you.  They try hard.  You speak with humor and they totally get it.  This seems so easy for you…”

I noticed how frustrated he seemed to be.  This comment is so common when working with young and/or inexperienced teachers.  They expect things to work well right away when in reality, they don’t always happen like that.

I can recall a very similar conversation that I had with one of my mentors which went down almost the same way.  In my first year of teaching I asked the same thing to my co-worker, a woman who was an institution in the school that I now teach in.  I was there part-time and was frustrated that things were not going as smoothly as I had hoped.  She had been teaching for 37 years, on the verge of retirement, and her enthusiasm for the job still glowed as brightly as I imagined it did in her youth. 

Her reply to me has been one I have not forgotten.  It was simple and insightful.  “Because I have been at this much longer than you.  I am much older than you.  The kids know me.  Like it or not, kids understand this.  This does not mean that you are not a good teacher.  It’s just that experience plays that much of a difference.”

She was absolutely correct in that experience makes a world of difference.  That is how we grow and improve.  By definition, experience means insight into observation of facts or events.  We learn from others as well as ourselves.  We make mistakes and hopefully learn to not repeat them.

Thinking about Robby helps me remember what I have gone through in my work.  


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends, and ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Donn!


5 Simple Tips for Creating a Sub Plan that Works!

Posted 2 years ago - by Donn Tobin

I had to be out of work for a few days and needed to create lesson plans for my substitute.  Being that I was in the midst of a unit, this mid-week interruption would surely create havoc to my curriculum.  I decided to write up extremely detailed lesson plans.  I was very thorough, having lots of descriptions, anecdotal notes, diagrams and charts of activities, tasks, and of course, the gymnasium.  I wanted to make sure that whoever read my plans would have no questions of any kind. 

I was proud of them.  They were detailed, yet simple.  Would it take a little time to read them?  Yes, but definitely no longer than previous lesson plans I had written.  I soon realized that it was slightly larger than I had originally hoped (it was multiple pages), however still very easy to read.  I had spent a great deal of time on them, so there was no turning back now. As is the usual routine when one of us is absent, I wanted to fully inform and consult with my co-worker about what I needed done.  All I would need from him is to let my substitute have access to the equipment and for him to keep an eye on the person.   So, I handed him the papers, a gleeful, large smile plastered on my face.  I intently watched him skim through them.  What seemed like a decent amount of time (probably too long a period), he glanced up at me.  

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“Donn, are you sure that you want to leave this?” He asked. I became shocked and slightly annoyed at his question.  “Why not”, I retorted.  “I know it seems like a lot, however, if I don’t leave detailed plans, my kids will be missing a chunk of my unit.  I don’t want them to be way behind.  It is simple to follow...”

“Yea it’s easy to understand.”  He looked at me with the hint of skepticism.  “However you know how messed up things can be when it comes to subs,” he warned.  He was right.  My co-worker was referring to the many occasions where problems and snags with substitutes seemed all too common when one of us is out. 

I waved off the suggestion.  “That shouldn’t be an issue.  I specifically put in Subfinder" (the computer program we use to request and/or arrange for a substitute) “for Ms. *****, and she was available.  No problem.”  This particular sub was well schooled in how to handle children, and one of the few, very competent educators suited for the gym. 

He didn’t push the issue any further.  He told me that it would not be a problem, wished me the best of luck, and each went our merry way…

…Fast forward to me coming back to work.  I arrived early to get ready for the day.  In walks my co-worker with a smile on his face.  “So, did you miss me,” I asked.

He laughed, “Not really,” he kiddingly replied.  Then his look turned quickly to concern.  “However your plans weren’t exactly followed the way you wanted them to.  Too many issues happened.”

He proceeded to explain that on the first day, one of our buses was in an accident, and children would be arriving to school late.  There was a need for additional staff for bus duty, and he needed to go out to help.  Apparently at that same time, the main office became extremely chaotic when the secretarial staff learned that too many teachers needed coverage for an in-district meeting, and coverage was short.   A different substitute, not the one that was scheduled to be me, arrived approximately five minutes before my first class was to arrive.  This person, who now had very little time to read through and organize the equipment properly decided to do a simple game of kickball instead.  It apparently was going so well for her that she decided to do that activity the entire day! On the second day, another person arrived to fill my position.  It turned out this would be the sub’s first time being in the gymnasium, and felt too overwhelmed being in dress shoes and a business suit for what my plans were dictating.

What a disaster.  After all that time and effort it took, my kids were unable to do what I had hoped.  This debacle taught me some valuable lessons and techniques when creating sub plans for the future that I will share below.

5 Simple Tips for Creating Sub Plans:

  1. Be Detailed, but Brief

    • Still add in detail to write-ups, like diagrams; however keep the games “short and sweet”.  If it is takes too long to explain or write a certain activity, scrap it.

  2. Provide Emergency Plans

    •  We all have a few activities that are simple to set-up and use minimal equipment.  Select games that keep students engaged and moving. Try to select activities that students have been taught already, so it isn't completely new to them.

  3. Keep It Simple

    • If you want to continue with your current unit, Keep It Simple. Try using short, simple instructions for tasks that are easy to perform. Also, include activities or skills that students have already learned

  4. Add Important Information to the Top

    • Keeping pertinant information in an easy-to-find place means it will be seen. Ideas of what to include: schedule, necessary books or tools (attendance, discipline log, etc.), bathroom passes, pertinent student information (students with special needs, medical info, etc.)

  5. ​Provide a whistle

    • ​​Provide a squeeze or electronic whistle for the substitute. In my experience, subs rarely come with one, and since students tend to act differently on Sub days, it absolutely comes in handy.


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends and ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Donn!

5 Tips for Enhancing PE with Site Visits!

Posted 2 years ago - by Donn Tobin

It was the third session of the conference.   My rear end at this point had become numb from sitting on the hard gymnasium floor.  But the discomfort I was feeling did not break my concentration for the superb presenter, who happened to be a good friend of mine.  He and I had presented together before, so I already knew he could captivate an audience.  He was energetic, extremely positive, clear and precise, and oozed “master teacher”.   It made me wonder how he was with kids.  Although among his peers he was excellent, how would he be with his true population?  Did he teach somewhat the same?  Would these great and innovative activities translate over to a real class?  I was sure that he had to be roughly the same, and only hoped that I could one day get that chance.

Little did I know that the thought would soon be put in motion.  Sitting next to me was my co-worker, another excellent teacher in his own right.  We were both excited by the activity he was presenting, one which involved turning the gym into a living, breathing city with money, jobs, banks, etc.  Kids worked cooperatively, incorporated fitness and other skill-related activities.  It was a knockout.

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My co-worker leaned in close and whispered, “Donn, you know this guy, right?”

My concentration now broken, I tried to brush aside my annoyance long enough to answer him and get back to business.  “Yup, I know him.  He is a former New York State Teacher of the Year”, I quickly replied regaining my focus.

“He is good right?”  My co-worker did not wait for my reply.  “Do you think that this would fit in our gym?”

My brain feverishly broke away from the presentation, scanning my current schedule, class dynamics and other logistics for a response.  “With some tweaking, yes I think it could work for us.  How about we ask him if we could come for a site visit?”  We both looked at each other and instantly knew that was we needed to do. 

For professional teachers, one of the most beneficial things you can do is see what others do in their schools.  You are on their turf, different facilities, kids, equipment.  Just putting yourself in a different environment and seeing how that teacher works with their kids could make you a better teacher. What may work for them may not work for you and vice versa.   We had a reason for visiting him, as we were both very much impressed with the activity he had presented.  However, I also wanted to see him in his school.  We now had the opportunity to witness his nuances with the students, his overall teaching style, things that he posts on the walls of his gym, and other tells of his trade. Although this might not be exactly how he is on a day-to-day basis, I got a very good impression within a short period of time.

This made me think going for a site visit was not only good for our program, but good for ourselves professionally…and it was.  We were able to get some valuable information to bring back to our school, and implement in our curriculum. 

Thinking back, there are a few key items that made this visit a success:

  1. First, you need to ask the person you want to visit.  

    • This seems automatic, right?  Well it’s not.  Most professionals would be very willing to share what they are doing with others, especially one who presents materials for hundreds of educators.  But, for you to actually go to their school and see them with children?  That might be a different story.  This opens them up to seeing both the good and bad, not just the dynamic stuff.  What happens if they have a difficult population?  Their facilities are falling apart?  Administrators who are not physical education-friendly?  These are all signs that might become apparent the minute you step on school grounds.  So, it is not a guarantee this would happen.  My friend had absolutely no problem allowing us to come, and yes, he was as awesome with his kids as he was with adults!
  2. Know what you want to get out of the visit and what you are going to watch. Don’t just go to see another person teach. 
    • Go if they are not only amazing, but run an outstanding program.  I knew of a person who arranged for a site visit, but happened to come during a unit where the material was extremely similar to what they do.  Probably should have discussed their goals a little better with that person, huh?  Sometimes scheduling may not work in your favor, so do your homework.  Are there any staff development days without students?  What about half days for parent-teacher conferences?  Is there a program that runs a certain time of year? 
  3. Obtain approval from your Administrator.
    • Be clear, concise, thorough, and RATIONALIZE.  We sold both our Athletic Director and Principal on our site visit because of how we presented it to them.  We informed them about the program we were going to see, the teacher’s credentials/background, how it would relate to our children/program/school, and why it would be a detriment for us to not go.  We sold them on the idea that this program massively incorporates the common core, and is very appropriate for our kids. 
  4. Take lots of notes, or even videos if they allow it, and ask questions.
    • You only get one shot at this, make it count.  While my co-worker took picture after picture, I wrote copious amounts of notes and diagrams.  I asked questions to the kids participating, the teaching assistants, as well as my friend teaching the activity.  We wanted to make sure that we knew this program inside and out.  And no matter how well we re-created it in our gym, we wanted to be armed with as much information as possible.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for another one
    • Anything that will make your program better you should do.  I try to get a site visit at least once a year, or every other year if possible, but I don’t push my luck either.  I do not want my administrator getting the idea I just want a day without kids.  I want my visits to count, and have significant meaning for our program.  


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends and ideas for your program!

Check out more Blogs by Donn!

Becoming a Leader and Getting Involved

Posted 3 years ago - by Donn Tobin

LeaderAfter speed walking across the campus in order to escort a presenter to their room, I happened to run into some colleagues of mine.  I was volunteering as the Assistant Conference Director at my local zone conference.  This meant that I arrived at the site around 6:30 AM, helped set up various spaces for presenters, set up signs in the hallways, and troubleshot other various tasks for the day.  I am sure that at this time I had walked the equivalent of several miles even though the conference had not officially started yet.  One of my colleagues noticed that I was sweating fairly profusely for such an early time of day. 

“Donn, are you getting paid for this?” my younger colleague asked me. 

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I replied, “No...” my voice trailing off, wondering where he was going with that question.

“Then why are you running around killing yourself?  The conference will be great either way, so why bother doing this at all?”

Ok, I didn’t need to be “running” around the massive HS campus, and I didn’t need to think that every bit of my voluntary job was an imperative urgency.  However he did make me think about why I was bothering at all.  And the answer was very clear for me, because I wanted to. 

Since you are reading this blog I can honestly say that you are already more than your average physical education teacher.  There are plenty of people out there who are probably very good at their jobs, go to work in the morning, go home after they teach/coach/run an after school program or club, and that is it.  I felt that it was necessary for me to get involved. 

I decided at first to take a leadership position in my local affiliate of my state AHPERD.  I had already volunteered on several district committees and initiatives, so branching out to subject-specific activities seemed like the right progression for me. I didn’t need to.  However, I felt that I had some value, and no matter how small, I could be a part of something bigger than my local school district.  And I have.  Since then, I have branched out to be on a state-wide AHPERD committee, taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and become a part of the GOPHER family.  I can honestly say that I have found numerous advantages to becoming a leader in my field.  The following may hopefully persuade you to do the same:

  • You DO have something to contribute.  Have you ever been to a conference session and overheard someone near you say something like “Oh, we do that but we do it differently like this…”?  That drives me nuts.  For whatever reason they chose to sit on the sideline, but they most likely have something great to share, so why not share it?  Yes, you do have to get yourself out there, and yes, there may be people who disagree with your methods.  But, you may have a different perspective or take on a similar activity.  No one can discredit your suggestions especially if it is for the greater good.  Each person has experienced life/career/etc. differently.  If you feel it has worth and can make others better, share.
  • It could open doors for you (job opportunities).  There have been a few occasions where my involvement gave me the opportunity for a side job.  Think about it for a minute…two candidates, same basic credentials, however one person is known for doing things within our field and the other person has never been heard of before.  Get the picture?  An employer is more likely to be interested in the leader than the other person.
  • Networking makes you a better teacher/professional.  Just by being in contact with others within your field gives you the opportunity for new ideas and advice, as well as a sounding board for questions or concerns that you may have about your own job.  I do not buy in the adage that a veteran teacher has all the answers, because they do not.  You can always improve.  I have incorporated many ideas from other teachers that have helped make my physical education program better.  Does it really matter who it came from?  If it benefits my kids, than it is worth it. 
  • Becoming a leader could make you a better public speaker.  Ok, this might be a hard sell.  I know of plenty of people who do not enjoy speaking in public.  However you already do!  If you teach children and/or classes, you are already a public speaker.  Yes, it would be different in front of your peers, but that does not necessarily make it tougher.  You already survive with kids…and they tend to be our biggest critics anyway! 
  • Becoming a leader will help make our field great!  I have heard over the years that PE programs are getting cut, losing positions, losing funding, etc.  One of the reasons why we remain relevant is due to leaders in our profession.  There are so many benefits to living and learning about a physically fit lifestyle.  Other professionals are constantly coming up with new methods and techniques, research, and products to help advance our career.  You become a role model for others to aspire to.  You need to become a part of it too.  Don’t watch it unfold on the sideline, be in the now and help it along.  Remember that no matter how shy or amount of experience you have, you can help lead us too!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends and ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Donn!

    Students pointing at honor wall board I quickly survey the class sitting in front of me as I transition from one activity to the next.  Keeping instruction short and sweet is very important to me, so I try my hardest to be brief but to the point.  I see that most of them are quietly sitting in “pretzel” position, their hands to themselves, and intently watching and listening to me this time all except for “Danny”, sitting near the back of the class.  “Danny”, who a second ago began to lie down on the gym floor making snow angels , now abruptly sits up, pokes the back of the child in front of him, and begins to violently spin in a 360 degree circle, all while instruction is taking place.

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     Does this sound familiar?  Do you have classes where the dynamics sometimes make things really, r-e-a-l-l-y challenging?  We all have different types of students in our school.  Some of them are excellent listeners, follow directions, and always seem to do the right thing.  Some of them, unfortunately, are not.  They may have issues (personal, physical or behavioral) going on.  They may not value or care about school.  Whatever the lack of motivation may be, it is our job to try to get kids “turned on” to physical activity, and get excited to participate in physical education.

     Luckily most elementary school children love coming to and participating in PE.  I realize that it may not be for everyone.  It is imperative to try to connect with all children, and by utilizing different teaching strategies, it is possible to promote positive behavior with them.  The following are a few examples of some positive strategies that I have used in my school:


  • Student of the Month Award.  This award is given to a student in every class each month.  A student that has had great effort, good sportsmanship, is an excellent listener and helper, and does an all-around great job in my class gets this award.  I have given this award to children who have really tried to improve behavior if they are struggling in my class.  I do not base it on athletic skill.  This student is given a certificate, has their picture taken which my colleagues and I post out in the hallway each month.  Students really look forward to this at the end of each month, and some former students have told me that they still have their picture and certificate from many years back.  For some, this can be a motivating factor in itself.  Does every child get one?  No, however by the time they leave my school (my school is K-5), they have a very good chance of getting it.
  • NBA Sneaker Contest.  I got this idea many years ago from another PE teacher.  I contacted an NBA Basketball Equipment Manager and asked him if he could donate the largest size sneaker that he had for this school initiative.  The gentleman sent me what he claimed is Dikembe Mutombo’s size 22 Nike sneakers.  Each class of every grade level in the school gets a class score when they leave at the end of physical education.  The highest score a class can get is a “3”, the lowest, “0”.  Classes that demonstrate good behavior, effort, cooperation will score the most points.  If a class receives a lower score one day, it is a really easy way to assess them (and to notify their classroom teacher).  Most classes are very unhappy about this, and are motivated to do better.  The class from grades 1-2, and 3-5 with the highest amount of points get to keep one of the extremely large sneakers in their classroom.  Every two months we announce a new winner.  In case of a tie, a special mark is made in our grade book if a class was as perfect as possible (“3+”).
  • Sneaker Cutouts.  For 30 minutes of physical activity outside the school day, children have the chance to decorate, and cutout a paper sneaker to be placed on the gymnasium wall.  Children can fill out as many as they wish.  The only stipulation is that it must be signed by a parent/guardian in order to have it on the wall.  It is great to see students take sneaker sheets at the end of each class, and to see our gymnasium walls filled with them is such a sight to see!
  • Individual Behavior Plans.  I have run many different varieties of a behavior sheet for children.  For those who need a push I base a plan on the need for improvement.  It may be for a sticker, certificate or even a small token (i.e.: mini ball, yo-yo, pencil).  I make sure that I communicate with the parent/guardian to make them aware that I need their help to come from home when trying to improve behavior.
  • “Sticker Time”.  Kindergarteners can be tough... they are babies!   For some this is their first experience with school.    Most come to my gymnasium VERY excited, and in turn can be draining.  In order to get them under my routines and in control of their behavior, I initiated “sticker time”.  If a student at the end of the class did not need a time-out, and was a good listener, they receive a small sticker.  This incentive changes several months in where students only earn the sticker on the last class of the week that I see them. 
  • P.B.I.S.   Stands for Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support.  This is a school wide program where we (the physical education staff) are included in a building behavior system.  Students can earn tokens for being observed doing something good.  These tokens are cutout paws (we are the Lakeview Bulldogs) that children can accumulate for other incentives based in their classroom.  Staff members all have paws to hand out on different colored paper so it can be tracked where the student got the paw from (bus, monitor, special area, nurse, etc).  I have been known to give both individual and/or class paws to help reinforce good behavior.  This system only works if all staff members buy into it. 


What are some ways that you motivate your students? 


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