Recently, my district and school approved my request to go from twice-a-week PE (45 minutes per class) to four days of physical education and one day of health (30 minutes per class) for grades 3-6.
I got the idea to expand our school’s health and PE classes after reading on Exchange about another school that rotates 30-minute PE periods with music classes. That got me thinking about my school and the possibilities of doing something like that here.
Now that my plan has been approved, I am very excited about seeing my students daily! I believe that by participating in my class every day, they will have the opportunity to see fitness as a way of living a better life, and hopefully will engage in physical activity for life.
I will be able to expand on my units and add units that were never possible in twice-a-week PE. My students are going to be more fit, show more confidence in physical activities, and have a better understanding of the FITT principle concepts. This is going to be awesome!
Here are the five steps I took to make this idea a reality:
I started by inviting my principal, vice principal, district curriculum director, and other PE teachers to read Dr. John Ratey’s book, SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
. Some of them read it, and they were very surprised to learn just how impactful physical education can be for the whole child. (It really helped that I already had a very good relationship with all those individuals.)2.
Next, I took the lead for one of our weekly all-school assemblies for staff and students. I talked about physical literacy and showed a YouTube video of the school featured in the book SPARK
. Our math teacher described how he gives his students fitness breaks to keep their brains fired up during his class. We also discussed how being more active will help children be better students in the classroom.3.
I help build the specialist schedule every year, so I drafted a schedule that would incorporate daily PE the following year and talked to my principal about looking into the possibility of doing it.4.
After my principal reviewed the plan and said he was open to the idea, we sent it to the district. They liked the idea, so we met with the district curriculum director to make sure the proposed schedule included enough time for our school’s mandatory “specials,” such as life skills and music.5.
The final step was discussing the new schedule with school staff. I did not encounter any real problems here either, which may be because the prep work I did to help staff understand the importance of physical education and how it can help in all classroom subjects.
Currently the plan is to begin the new schedule next year and I’m really excited! The schedule will be tight and I’ll have to teach the students transitions at the beginning of the year so transition time can be a minimal.
Marty Reese at Bay View Elementary School in Burlington, WA.
Because I have 10 years in at my school, I think it helped my voice be respected and heard. I have tried to help staff understand that more physical education is going to help the whole child — including each child’s ability to work hard and focus in the classroom. Thus, the whole school will have healthier and smarter students!
I am a physical education teacher for grades 3-7 at Bay View Elementary School in Burlington, WA. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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