Hopefully you enjoyed your summer break! If you’re reading this, you’re thinking about getting ready for the first day of class. I applaud you for planning ahead. There are some teachers who show up the first week and do all the preparation then. But this can lead to unwarranted stress and frustration. For teachers, the first week of school is full of meetings about new initiatives, lunches to catch up with colleagues, and getting the supplies needed to physically prepare the teaching environment. As physical education teachers, we know better than anyone else that preparation is the key to success in any game, and this translates to the world of teaching as well. Below are some tips and tricks on the best ways to prepare for the first PE class of the year.
The Mental Game
There’s nothing that captures the essence of teaching quite like the first time students come marching into your teaching space and look at you for direction. In this moment, summer truly comes to an end. What will you say? How will you arrange your students for organization? What will the first lesson look like? These are all great questions to consider, but before I can offer any answers, you need to mentally prepare yourself for day one.
Teaching is a marathon, not a sprint. The first day will not dictate the rest of the school year. It is simply a starting point in the journey. My first couple of years, I agonized over that very first day. I overthought it, and in the end, I came across more nervous than the students. Treat the first day as an introduction of many introductions. Just like it will take you time to learn about each student, it will also take the students some time to get to know you. Mentally prepare yourself for the fact that the first day is not the end of the world. If things don’t go as planned, there is always the next class.
Make a Wish List
Depending on your years of teaching experience, you may have all the materials you need to dress up your teaching space, such as bulletin board borders and office supplies. If this is the case for you, that means you are well organized and good at preserving materials—good job! You get a pass on this tip. For the rest of us, creating a list of every conceivable item needed and how to obtain them is crucial. Doing this will allow you to save money, ask the school to pay for something they may be willing to pay for, or use already existing supplies from the school. Know what you need ahead of time in order to efficiently create the classroom environment you want.
This wish list will help solidify your thinking along the lines of many of the important procedures that occur in PE. For example, you may want to buy new hall passes. This may lead you to consider under what circumstances the students may leave the teaching space and whether they can go alone. In addition, the list will help you think of themes for your space. For example, as you create the list, you may choose to browse for bulletin board borders. You may see a set that is decorated with stars and this may lead to the idea of a shooting star themed board. You could then combine this with a behavioral incentive where you pick two students each class who are “shooting stars”, and let them sign the board. Making a list is a great way to clarify your thinking and work out ideas. In this way, you have all the necessary resources in place to execute those brilliant ideas on day one.
Planning ahead before the start of the year is not a bad idea. This gives you more time to prepare your lessons and see the big picture for the year without the time crunch of that first week. You can plan the first couple of weeks or the first semester, the key is to plan something.
It’s easy enough to find your curriculum online or to get ideas from someone in your department. Even if you are new to a school, teaching does not change. You may have to modify a lesson or two, but that is far easier than trying to plan something last minute and pulling your hair out for it. Plus, when that first class walks in, you will be well-versed, relaxed, and organized during your lesson, and children respond well to that.
Prepare Your Equipment
Equipment changes over the summer. Heat may expand some of the balls while others may lose air due to holes. Your equipment may even be moved around due to someone else using it or cleaning your space over the summer. Take inventory of your equipment and prepare it for use on the first day. In this manner, you won’t wind up short of equipment, pulling out something with spider webs all over it, or realizing you don’t have what you need for the first day. Take the time, even if it is a little extra, to ensure you prepare your equipment. You can even decide to organize it by unit if you followed the last tip and planned ahead.
Take Care of Yourself and Escape
Day one can be hard if you are not well rested and physically and mentally ready to go. As a physical education teacher, I don’t have to tell you what it means to take care of yourself. Just think back to what your parents would say because it’s all true: eat a good breakfast, get lots of rest, and take a deep breath because everything is going to be okay. It is perfectly normal to feel nervous, so I would suggest you find something to lose yourself in the night before. Perhaps a good movie or dinner with friends, whatever it is, do something to distract yourself from the fact that tomorrow is your first day back to school.
Now that you have some tips and tricks at your disposal, you can rest assured that you will be prepared on your first PE class of the year. Take the extra time to follow these guidelines and you will more than likely experience a great first day and a wonderful year. After all, as physical educators, we get to have gym class every day, and that is something to look forward to all summer long!
For more helpful PE articles and activities, visit www.ssww.com/blog category/pe-central
You can also find a wide variety of equipment at www.ssww.com/sports-pe-recreation
About the Author:
Charles Silberman is a physical education and health teacher with 14 years of teaching experience. He has become a leader and advocate for incoming physical educators by running workshops on teaching in limited space at staff in-services and conferences, assisting with new teacher orientations, and other initiatives. He has experience writing curriculum from scratch and writing published information specific to physical education in state and nationally recognized publications and websites. Charles has also created a niche as a physical education specialist who fuses technology and primary instructional subjects into physical education lessons.
View all of his Professional Development courses at the S&S Worldwide online school.