Too many kids in #physed

OK, this will be a super quick post in response to a Twitter conversation about largecrowd class sizes in #physed.

1. It’s a problem.

2. The issue also extends beyond class size and includes class composition (thanks Glenn Young!).

3. PE teachers let this happen because we want kids to have more physical education rather than less, however, PE teachers very often don’t have a true voice in the decision process.

4. This is a huge safety issue – not to mention growth, development and pedagogical concerns…

It is a problem for other subjects too: see this report from Alberta. However, that report also includes the statement, “How did 76 eighth graders end up in one gym (sic) class in Red Deer’s Normandeau School?” Too many kids in #physed is a problem – and I think it happens in our subject more than any other.

I often hear from pre-service teachers that in their practicum, they were expected to teach between 60-90 (yes, 90!) kids in one gym. And sometimes, they were left to teach that huge class by themselves. We are seeing 2, 3 even 4 classes put together in one activity space at one time.

90 grade 2 kids in one gym – I’m just waiting for the first lawsuit.

I have presented workshops entitled ‘Motivating the Masses’ (based on the workshops developed by Shelley Barthel, my dear friend and colleague) at conferences and teachers’ conventions. You can access the ‘handout’ here. What follows below is the text from the first page – please consider:

These activities are intended for those days when you have large numbers of kids in the gym (or activity space) due to short-term extenuating circumstances:

  • change in weather
  • schedule screw up
  • facility screw-up
  • etc.

These activities are NOT INTENDED to be a long-term solution for facilitation of enormous PE classes.  If your school’s PE schedule includes multiple classes in the gym on a regular basis (especially with only 1 teacher), please consider the following:

  • schedule PE class and gym time first – this way, space use is maximized.
  • discuss with your principal the problems with having that many kids in a variable environment such as PE class.  Consider calm, rational arguments featuring the following ideas:
    • a less-than-ideal learning environment for the important outcomes of PE (would you cram 50 kids in a math class?)
    • the obvious safety and supervision issues
    • the importance of quality, daily PE to a child’s learning, self-esteem, well-being, etc.
    • have I mentioned the lack of a good learning environment?
  • check with your teachers’ union to see what they have to say about this issue and the inherent liability issues!

Let’s take some action and provide kids (and teachers) with a learning environment that is optimal.

Come on, MOVE me!

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