My PE Philosophy and Structure

In my previous post I explained that my education and training wasn’t in education, so when I began teaching I was doing it from scratch. The teacher at my school before was no longer here, there wasn’t much equipment, and I was the only teacher in my department, and I also did not have a gym or much outdoor space to teach. I had a classroom with some squat racks, some dumbbells and bands, and a few other things we could use. Trying to figure out how to get kids active with these circumstances was HARD, but I did it. I am so glad that I now have much more equipment and a beautiful gym to help me reach my goals of making the next generation more active and understanding why they need to be. What having these circumstances did provide me was a chance to really see what I wanted to teach. I knew that I didn’t want to teach full units on sports, but didn’t know how to incorporate them with what I did want to teach.

What I decided on was that I wanted to teach based on ACSM’s 4 Components of Exercise. Cardiorespiratory, Resistance, Flexibility, Neuromotor and that I wanted to add in information about nutrition as well. I knew I could then mix in the traditional sports during these units to show how sports and athletics fits in with being active.

This is drastically different than how my PE classes were in school, so each year I make sure to explain what they can expect, and WHY. I give them the statistics about organized sports after high school and why they need to find an activity outside of sports that they can enjoy for a lifetime. It has taken a few years, but I believe they are now fully onboard since they now know what to expect coming into our school. I still get the “why can’t we just play basketball the whole class.” As frustrating as that is, I just explain WHY and they usually understand.

My year looks like this:

Introduction to Physical Activity and Exercise: I introduce the 4 components, benefits of exercise, FITT, and talk about barriers to exercise.

Cardiorespiratory: we learn how to take heart rate, calculate heart rate zones, learn about different types of cardio, do a mini couch to 5k, learn cpr and get certified, and much more. Inside of this unit we do play sports like basketball, ultimate frisbee, kick ball, etc. The students understand the sports have a place (and they absolutely do), but that they won’t be doing it for weeks on end.

Resistance: we learn about bones and muscles, how to do the main movements correctly (squat, press, hinge, etc), the importance of bone loading exercise.

Flexibility: we get to do things like yoga, foam rolling (thanks to donors choose who funded 50 plus foam rollers for my classroom!), and understanding the importance of flexibility and recovery when being active.

Neuromotor: I don’t spend a lot of time on this since this fits in other categories but we do have some fun doing ladder drills, playing with bosus, and the trx.

Nutrition: we talk about the macro and micronutrients, how to read a food label, we go on a field trip to a local grocery store and do a food label scavenger hunt after that lesson and it is so much fun! You can find that activity at this link if you are interested. I haven’t gotten as deep into this as I would like. With covid, it was hard to get through everything I wanted. We will see how this year goes.

Throughout the year I add in some fun mini units like mini golf, we take a field trip to play mini golf, they they design their own mini golf hole in groups and then we have a whole course to play. We invite other classes to come play and vote on the most creative hole. It’s a fun activity that gets the whole school invested and the kids love it. We also play some disc golf since we have a 9 whole course on campus.

The biggest buy in I get from my kids has been since I started “Free Fun Friday!”. On Fridays our school gets our early so our classes are much shorter, so we do free fun activities. They can do anything they want as long as they are being active the whole time. This gives them the chance to do the things we may not do as much during our class period. They know each week that at the end of it, they will get to play basketball, football, volleyball, or other things so they usually participate so well during the week.

Over the time I’ve been teaching I have gotten so many kids that thank me for the way I teach. If they hate sports they are glad they only have to do it a little at a time, and if they love them they know they get to do them every Friday. The biggest feedback I get is from students who hate feeling compared to more athletic students, so they love that most of my class is to work on goals for yourself and they don’t feel self conscious.

Here is an article with more about the shift from sports based PE to fitness based PE. The PE Shift by Caralee Adams

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