What subject is the Rodney Dangerfield of the education world? What subject has more to offer across a wider spectrum of the curriculum than any other class? What teacher is told that they are getting no money for their budget? What area is given more and more students until their class size reaches an unimaginable size of 125 students? The answer is physical education.
This week on Voxer the question came up of what is your class size. I heard numbers that topped out at 125! How can this be considered best practices? I am expected to assess every student during every lesson. How does an administrator expect this to happen when there is only one certified physical education teacher in the class? The message you are sending that teacher and the profession as a whole is that we don’t matter. We will heap more students on you because you can supervise them on an open field. The issue here isn’t the ability of the teacher to supervise, it is the ability of the teacher to teach, assess, and give corrective feedback to 125 students every class. The worst part of this is these numbers are at elementary schools! Can you imagine having to teach 125 kindergartners how to do anything? The class must be constantly interrupted with bathroom requests and shoe tying breaks.
Other physical education teachers tell me they get no budgets at all. No budgets. As in $0.00. In addition to being unable to purchase equipment those same teachers are unable to attend professional developments. The teachers have to take personal days and pay their own money to attend workshops. What kind of message is administration sending to those teachers? We don’t value you or your subject. That is the message.
The 21st physical education community is ahead of education in every way shape and form. They are using technology at much higher levels than anyone else in education. Are you ready to disagree? Tell me the last teacher that used a drone to get footage of your class during an activity! You can’t. It is being done in Texas. Tell me the last time a non-physical education teacher used qr codes, augmented reality, and Google Forms in one lesson. You can’t. It is being done in Pennsylvania. Tell me the last time a teacher used math, science, literacy, music, and movement in a lesson. I will tell you it is being done in physical education classes all over the country and the world.
We hear about people of color getting suspended and being in more trouble at a higher rate than their white counterparts for the same behavior. (http://goo.gl/NNHzVX) I guarantee you if you did the research you would not find this inequity happening in physical education. Physical education classes are set up so all students can succeed. Most children, regardless of race, come into physical education with the love and appreciation of movement. This is because we are biologically programmed to move. We think better standing then sitting. (http://goo.gl/WqrpJr) Our brains are more active during and after exercise than sitting. (http://goo.gl/i8Fxim) Physical education is the great educational equalizer. Physical education teachers know how to engage and empower students of all shapes, sizes, races, religions, genders and any other identifying characteristic.
The evidence shouts that physical education is the gum under education’s shoe. Why is this so? I believe that it is because people think you don’t have to have a skill to teach physical education. Art teachers are artistic, music teachers are musical, and shop teachers are good with their hands. Every special besides physical education has a skill that is clear to an observer. The art teacher paints, the music teacher gives lessons, or the shop teacher fixes engines. Most physical education teachers don’t work out with their classes every day. (some do)
The skill we possess is the ability to connect every subject to ours while teaching physical literacy and lifetime fitness and wellness. This skill is just as important as any other teacher’s skill if not more. What is the point of being college and career ready if you have poor nutrition and aren’t active. You are a disease waiting to happen. Research shows over and over and over again that nutrition and exercise are the two of the greatest things you can do to prevent disease. (not smoking is number 1 which you learn in physical education class as well!) Where are students learning how to be active and healthy? In physical education class. Where are students learning not to smoke? In physical education class. Where are students understanding how to move and why it is important to? In physical education class. If you care about students and you care more about them being happy and healthy than what they score on a test you will support you physical education teacher having a budget, normal class sizes (20-30), and make them feel that they are an equal part of your staff.
Q1. What is the largest class size you had? #slowchatpe
Q2. Is your budget the same, equal, or better than your peer’s (comparable area)? #slowchatpe
Q3. How is your subject valued in your school? How do you know? #slowchatpe
Q4. What do you do to show your staff that you are an intricate part of the school? #slowchatpe
Q5. What do you do to show your stakeholders that your subject is a necessity? #slowchatpe