At First, Be Selfish

If there is one behavior trait that’s taboo for teachers it’s selfishness. However, as classroom teachers acquaint themselves with the process of teaching physical education, I think it’s important for them to put their needs first. I know this sounds heretical, but give me a chance to explain.

Over the course of my career, I have met many classroom teachers who find teaching physical education a challenge. Some flatly refuse to bring their students out for PE—ever. Others offer their students an extended recess, but provide no instruction. Talking with these reluctant teachers, I’ve realized that a lot of their discomfort stems from the process of conducting a PE session—selecting activities, gathering equipment, transitioning their students out to the yard, and initiating the activity. So much goes into making this all work, and each step presents challenges.

We need classroom teachers to get involved in teaching PE, so I encourage them to make the experience of teaching PE as easy for themselves as possible. This “selfish behavior” is perfectly acceptable for classroom teachers as long as the experience is a good one for their students.

Do you feel reluctant about teaching PE? Here are two tips to ease the burden.

  • Start with short PE periods. Children should get 60 minutes of exercise per day, but you can break that 60 minutes into small chunks. Even 10 minutes of physical activity is good for kids.
  • Focus on activities that require minimal equipment. It takes time and effort to organize equipment, bring it out to the yard, set it up, and put it away. PE by Design offers many activities that require no equipment at all.

Once you get comfortable with the routine of conducting a PE session, you can extend your PE periods, offer a wider variety of activities, and refocus on putting your students first!

Author: mgardner123

Author of the PE by Design program. I'm passionate about helping K-5 classroom teachers teach physical education.