By Rich Wiles
Our family, environment, and society are constantly changing. So why do a majority of physical educators still teach using professional practices from the 1980’s? I have been riding bicycles since I was a kid and worked at bicycle shops in college and continue to ride to work as much as possible with having a family. Over the years, the simple technology continues to evolve to meet the needs of many different types of people from a variety of cultures. Cyclists can choose their bike based on their lifestyle needs and functions. If you want to hit the trails, then grab a mountain bike or adventure bike. Do you want to challenge yourself and try a century or triathlon then grab a road bike. The reason bicycles continue to stay relevant is that companies continue to change their marketing strategy to continue to grow their shares of the fitness marketplace. So how can this simple transformation approach be used to help the physical education community grow?
In order for physical education to transform from the 1980’s, we need some simple guidelines to help educators understand the importance of physical education. The first step is to explore the differences between physical activity, exercise and physical education. Physical education is an academic subject that provides a planned, sequential, K-12 standards-based program of curricula and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge and behaviors for healthy, active living, physical fitness, sportsmanship, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence (SHAPE, 2015). When instructing students each day, what are you really teaching your students? Are they playing games, exercising or teaching instructional program with motor skill development and content knowledge?
The second step in transforming physical education is developing a common language that can be used by all physical educators. When educators teach mathematics, they use common language and concepts to solve problems and equations When a bicycle mechanic adjusts cable tension to correct shifting errors they use a technique that is common at most local bike shops. Physical Education needs a common language and universal criteria for skill development and content knowledge. The SHAPE America standards are a great starting point for the evolution to occur. It sets obtainable grade level outcomes for students and creates a common universal language for physical educators. While the approach could be different at each school, all students across the world could be receiving the same skill progression cues for fundamental movements. This simple step could create a universal language needed to progress the field of physical education.
The last important step for evolution to occur is to give quality professional development to all professionals in the field. When talking about quality professional development we need to focus less on playing games and focus more on linking to skill progressions and content knowledge. These sessions shouldn’t be boring lectures, but sessions that focus on the idea of quality instruction for all students with movement. Professional development should focus on the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Plan (CSPAP) by the CDC. To increase professional development events locally, more should be done with the Edcamp model and the local SHAPE organizations should provide more support. Face to face professional development builds local relationships and can grow the grassroots movement toward physical literacy in our community. Also, it would be great if equipment companies would support this free model of professional development too.
The other medium that needs to evolve is our professional use of social media, we need to continue sharing ideas and activities but design a way of organizing tweets by standard or skill. When posting a throwing lesson could we add the the hashtag #throwing or #SHAPES.13? This could create an easy searchable hashtag for educators. The same could be done on Voxer too. The #espechat will be evolving this spring into the new year with a new format focused on building common knowledge in physical education. Each week we will work together to discuss and learn proper implementation of biomechanical principles and SHAPE America standards. Some weeks we will focus on the biomechanical principles then the following week work on unpacking the standards as a community. To help the community grow, we will be releasing the questions to all the spring chats in draft format now so that the community can dive deeper into the questions and bring activities and ideas each week to the chat. We will also starting monthly base camps to help give professional development to the community each month. We will support the #physed community every month between the #physedsummit events from our friends at Physedagogy Group. Please come join the evolution towards quality physical education for all students. Let’s grow our profession and community together.
The ESPECHAT Group
THE #ESPECHAT Group
Weekly Topics and Questions for Spring 2016 Draft
(#1 – Jan. 5th) Power/Force
(#2 – Jan. 12th) Speed
(#3 – Jan. 19th) Reaction time
(#4 – Jan. 26th) Agility
(#5 – Feb. 2nd) Balance
(#6 – Feb. 9th) Rotation
Standard 1 Topics
(#7 – Feb. 16th) Locomotor
(#8 – Feb. 23rd) Nonlocomotor (stability)
(#9 – Mar. 1st) Manipulative
Standard 2 Topics
(#10 – Mar. 8th) Space
(#11 – Mar. 15th) Pathways, shapes, levels
(#12 – Mar. 22nd) Speed, direction, force
(#13 – March 29th) Alignment & muscular tension
(#14 – Apr. 5th) Strategies & tactics