No More Desire To Sit Out — What Changed Phys-Ed?

I’ve worked, and continue to work, with some incredible phys-ed teachers over the years. On the last day of school, I had a discussion with one of them that still has me thinking. I was sitting beside Cindy Merritt at lunch time, when she showed me this incredible card that she received from one of her students.

What I loved about this card was that this student recognized that sometimes phys-ed is tough, but with time and practice, it becomes easier … and it’s worth investing the time. While just one student wrote this card, I think that many others would have shared similar sentiments. Over the past 15 years, I’ve taught every grade from JK-Grade 6 in some capacity, and I’m always impressed with the number of students that love their time in the gym. Some students are really strong athletes, and others are not, but they’re usually all eager to go, willing to try, and don’t look for opportunities to sit out. That says something to me. When I was in school, the opposite was often true.

Yes, there were always strong athletes, but those that struggled (and I was one of them) wanted nothing to do with phys-ed. With my visual spatial difficulties, games like volleyball, basketball, and baseball were a tremendous struggle. I certainly never got picked for a team, and I couldn’t blame anyone. Why would I want to be physically active if I was only going to meet with failure?

Times have changed though. This movement to Teaching Games For Understanding is allowing students to develop the fundamental skills and strategies to meet with success. Teachers like Cindy are showing students the value in being physically active, and as I see in our students, they’re not only eager to get to the gym to learn, but they look for movement opportunities all day long.

When I see this change, I wonder about other subject areas.

  • How do we get all students to embrace the struggle in all subject areas?
  • How could we increase student success in all subject areas?
  • What might the short-term and long-term impact be if students start to see subjects in terms of what they can do versus what they can’t?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions. Who knew that a lunchtime conversation would give me so much to think about?


2 thoughts on “No More Desire To Sit Out — What Changed Phys-Ed?

  1. Aviva,
    It sounds like we had very similar experiences with Phys Ed growing up! And I love how your observations about the changes in Phys Ed move into questions about resilience and success in other subject areas. Thoughtful as always!

    • Thanks for the comment, Jennifer, and sorry for the late reply! I think that teaching a period of Phys-Ed a week has really made me think more about it in addition to the other subject areas. While the quality of programming and understanding from subject specialists are often hard to beat, maybe this experience has also shown me the value in teaching a little bit of everything (even if it’s a subject we struggle in). I wonder if I would have ever blogged on a similar topic (or come to these conclusions) if I wasn’t teaching Phys-Ed.


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