When our students arrive for their daily Phys Ed classes, their expressions and body language provide me with a great deal of valuable information. I can see the look of relief, for many students, that their time for gym has finally arrived. For others, I sense their hesitation and perhaps some concern about how the next 30 minutes will play out for them.
Students’ self perception, and their previous experiences, hold such power that impacts their future approaches to Phys Ed, just as it impacts their approaches to other subject areas within their learning. We sometimes hear from our struggling learners that they “just aren’t very good at Math.” Does the perception of being “good at sports” make Phys Ed more enjoyable for many of our students, while making others more reluctant to participate? If so, how do we change this perception?
Our Terry Fox Run was held on Friday last week, and we had spent our week preparing for the run. In our Phys Ed classes we discussed techniques and strategies for running, we worked on pacing and breathing, and we challenged ourselves to become “smarter” runners. The week was incredibly revealing in that we have runners of all different ability levels, who run at different paces, and yet the notion that some of us were “better” runners than others never seemed to matter much at all. Our understanding of Terry Fox and the challenges that he faced changed the entire perception of our unit on distance running.
Clearly, we need more champions like Terry to rally around.
Allen Wideman (@ajwideman) teaches elementary Phys Ed, stays active by chasing around his 3 year old twins, and is a UBC graduate student - Master's of Educational Technology.