One of the most often overlooked tools for an effective athletic program in a Christian school is the PE department. As the athletic director, you need to make sure that your school offers quality physical education for elementary and junior high students. Take today’s true/false quiz to see if your PE department is functioning at its best.
The purpose of this post is not to be condescending towards PE at Christian schools. We understand the difficulties that many face in physical education. However, our goal is for all our readers to consider ways to improve their programs.
1) Anyone can teach PE.
It has been said, “Those who can’t do, teach; and those who can’t teach, teach PE.”
However, the role of PE teacher can not be performed by just anyone who likes sports and games.
Often at Christian schools teaching rolls like PE teacher, art teacher, or music teacher fall to people that need to justify a salary or fill a day. This is understandable since hiring a professional in any of these areas can be a budgetary strain.
Also, in many Christian schools the first phrase of 1 Timothy 4:8 (“For bodily exercise profiteth little:”) is taken way too literally.
PE programs are often administered poorly because people believe that anyone can do it.
2) PE teachers should have some level of professional certification.
This question was definitely a “gimme.” However, it is a crucial truth. Exercise and fitness is an important part of education.
Just like an unqualified Math teacher can damage a child’s overall academic development, an unqualified PE teacher can have an equally as damaging effect.
School budget is the biggest reason for unqualified PE teachers. However, there are many cost effective certification programs. IFPA (International Fitness Professionals Association) certification is very affordable (around $500 per certificate) and offers a wide range of certificates.
Simple things such as attending clinics for one or two CEU’s are worth it for your overall school program. Otherwise, PE is nothing more than glorified AWANA game time.
3) PE class is a great time to hold sports practice for that season.
PE class may be a convenient practice time since it doesn’t require a major time commitment from parents and coaches since the kids are already at school.
The problem is that practicing basketball during the scheduled PE hour is not physical education. Holding practice and calling it PE is narrowing the focus of the class to a “what best benefits our school” mentality.
The best interests of all students must be kept in mind.
Also, it alienates the students required to attend PE/baseball practice that don’t also play on the team. These kids are left to the side as players playing in tomorrow night’s big game get all the reps and all the fun.
What is “physical” or “educating” about a kid standing on the sidelines cussing the coach and the jocks under his breath?
4) PE class should introduce each students to a multitude of sports even those not offered at the school.
Your school may not offer a football team, but your PE program should have a flag football segment.
Handball, dodgeball, freeze tag, capture the flag, floor hockey, and obstacle courses are essential to your PE program and athletic department.
The more sports you play, the better you get at all of them.
Introducing third graders to handball will pay dividends when they are breaking a full court press in the varsity basketball games as juniors and seniors.
Introducing multiple sports develop cross sport skills like spacial awareness, hand-eye coordination, bursts of speed, change of direction, and overall teamwork. Cross sport skills will greatly enhance the long-term athletic development of your kids.
Introduce new sports in order to stretch students and get them outside their comfort zone in order to learn new skills. NBA All-star and cross-sport athlete Steve Nash said once,
“I feel uncomfortable being comfortable.”
This confusion, adaptation, performance, and mastery process will help them later in their athletic careers as they try to learn new skills in their respective sports.
Different sports also give different kids a time to shine. This is good overall for kids that aren’t extremely athletic or late-bloomers. You may be surprised who comes out for the baseball team because they really enjoyed your two-week-long kickball segment.
5) PE class should only be graded on participation.
This sounds harsh but it’s necessary. Participation and effort should make up a large part of the PE grade. However, there needs to be some sort of standard for grading.
The Presidential Physical Fitness Test is a must as it offers definite, rigorous criteria that will require effort on the part of your students.
Students should also be regularly graded on fitness tests and endurance runs.
A rubric should be developed for grading each grade level of PE class.
This will boost the validity of your PE program (and ultimately your athletic program) as more than just recess or game time.
6) PE should be fun and focused on the fitness of your student body.
It’s weird how the obvious statements are true, yet many PE programs fall short of meeting them.
PE class needs to be structured, but it should be an enjoyable time of the day.
Periodically schedule a few days as free-play days. Let the boys organize a pickup football or basketball game. Let the girls do some jump-rope.
Keep kids interested in activity. Our country is on the lowest end of the overall fitness scale. While you are keeping it fun, continue to encourage fitness.
Teach your kids the value of hard work through setting and achieving fitness goals.
Prayerfully, through fun and structure in your PE classes your athletes will learn the value of lifetime fitness.
Many of us have made mistakes in PE (myself included). Reevaluate your PE program and determine to use it for its intended purpose. The key is to make sure that you as the athletic director/coach have a working hand in your PE classes. Partner with the teacher to make sure that they are doing all of the right things and staying away from the pitfalls of physical education.
Guard your PE class time. It can help you hang some banners when used the right way!
Do you have any other true or false statements regarding PE class?