Hi again and thanks for checking out this month’s blog. It has been a somewhat lengthy break from blogging due to many things happening over the past 6-7 weeks. I am happy to be sharing something to close out the year!
Some background information… I taught in different schools during the 2022-2023 school year as a substitute teacher. I covered many PHE lessons and also observed/supported other PHE lessons. Additionally, this past fall, I worked alongside pre-service teachers and had many conversations about what is happening (and isn’t) in pre-service students’ current schools.
Today’s blog focuses on some things that I have observed and repeatedly heard/read regarding reflections on current PHE teaching trends where I am currently living in Canada. Are there quality PHE programs in Canada? Yes. Do I see and hear a lot about the opposite? Yes.
In the spirit of a new year beginning, I am going to blog, today, about things we can do better as PHE teachers, at least, in the context of where I am currently living.
New Year’s PHE Resolution #1
Begin each lesson with an activity that connects with what’s being learned in the lesson; make it relevant.
For whatever reason, it is overly common for students to come into a gymnasium and run 3 laps. I don’t know why but “3” seems to be a normal number of laps for students to run to get their warm-up. Not only does this put students on display (we will see who isn’t running and who is last to the circle to go over today’s lesson), but running laps isn’t overly enjoyable for everyone nor is it relevant to the majority of PE lessons.
Sure - running laps might be fun for some. So consider different choices as students enter the gym. I am fully aware that in many public schools as a homeroom teacher who teaches PE, you need time to get set-up for the lesson. Perhaps some students can choose between running laps, jumping with a skip rope, shooting with a basketball, and/or volleying a volleyball back and forth. Better yet - teach an assortment of “instant activities” (e.g., tag games) at the beginning of the school year and have students choose between 2 as they enter the gym. They can then take responsibility to set-up the game and make the game happen while you are sorting yourself (while also being present for supervision) to get everything else ready for the lesson. To secure student interest, connect the instant activity/warm-up to something that has meaning to students which can be what’s to come in the lesson (Jung, 2023).
New Year’s PHE Resolution #2
Make learning intentions explicit - inform students/or have students inquire about the “why?”
Sadly, PHE teachers are pretty good about not telling students why and what they are learning. Students often don’t know the criteria on what they are being assessed on (Moura et al., 2020) let along why they are doing what they are doing in the PHE lesson. I’ve seen and been informed of many cases where students show up and they are put into a game with no explicit connections to learning intentions and students don't understand the purpose of the activity. Sometimes this replicates the “busy, happy, good” approach. Yes, you may not be able to provide multiple means of representation and write out the learning intention but at the very least, tell the students what they are learning or have the students inquire into what they might learn/or have learned in the lesson (e.g., closing reflection). Through reflection, a deeper understanding of the experience can be developed (Standal, 2015).
New Year’s PHE Resolution #3
Monitor and gather information that can inform future teaching and learning.
From what I’ve observed and from what’s been reported back to me, collecting assessment data rarely happens and when it does, it includes a focus on attendance, effort, participation, and dressing appropriately (Moura et al., 2020). Also, and maybe you’ve had this awkward conversation with colleagues, but some actually don’t think assessment happens in PE. It’s outlandish to suggest this because at the very least, or at least I hope, we monitor students and observe what is happening in a PHE lesson. Monitoring makes up the bulk of assessment in all subject areas; however, we still need to make time to document which, to make the best of our time, it’s valuable to do in class with checklists, anecdotal records, etc. Saying that, gathering evidence of learning doesn’t have to only come from the teacher. Properly scaffolding to students how to self and peer assess is important. Triangulation of data can better inform where students are at now and where they can go in the future (not to mention the development of critical thinking, empathy, open-mindedness and communication).
In 2024, I will be stepping away from working alongside PE teaching with pre-service educators. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. I am thrilled and grateful that I will once again be teaching PHE (K-7) beginning in January and I look forward to creating more resources and sharing reflections of teaching and learning throughout my experience.
The blog and website have now been going for about 11 months. If you would like to be featured as a blogger, don’t hesitate to reach out. Hearing some of the same perspective (e.g., me) can be redundant - my apologies. I would be really happy to contribute to a visual to help summarize your blog if you were wanting to contribute. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the next 5 days (until January 5th, Pacific Time/Vancouver), you can receive 40% off all membership options when using the coupon code: NEWYEAR2024. If you want more information about what the website offers (both free and paid), check out the post here. We have added a Department Member option to support PE teams (up to 5 members of PE department for a reduced cost).
Thanks for reading and all the best in 2024!