About Classroom Management in Physical Education

P.E. is lots of fun, but it necessitates some modifications in classroom management.
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With 30 kids milling around, it can be difficult to maintain order if you have not established the proper guidelines. While it is different from that of an ordinary classroom, classroom management in physical education relies on many of the same principles: setting reasonable expectations, sticking to them consistently, modifying the rules for students who require help and maintaining vigilance.

1 Establish the Perfect Protocol

Because children are so mobile in P.E. when compared to other classes, you need to hone your protocol before the school year even starts, and you need to teach it to the kids so that they have guidelines by which to operate. Create routines for entering the gym or outside play area, sitting while roll is called, getting out equipment, beginning games, putting equipment away and exiting class. Once students know what to expect, they will be able to channel their excitement and energy into meaningful action.

2 Utilize Rewards and Punishments Effectively

Sometimes teachers slip up by offering the wrong rewards and punishments for different behaviors. Water, for instance, should never be withheld following an infraction, nor should it act as a reward for good behavior. Focus on using praise to reinforce good behavior, and ask students to sit out of the game for short periods of time as a response to poor behavior. Try taking kids out of the game and leaving them there until they ask you to reenter. Knowing that they’ve made a choice on their own often ups the chances that students will follow through with the correct behavior.

3 Be Mindful of Modifications

Some kids can’t handle the rigors of P.E. in the same way that others can. Perhaps they have trouble keeping their hands to themselves, or they get tired more easily. Be mindful of which students need more time on the sidelines, and ask them to participate in planning when they will receive their downtime. Perhaps they can give you an agreed-upon signal, or they can just come up to you and let you know when they need to take a break. You may also give them permission ahead of time to take a trip to the water fountain whenever they need it, as long as they are not abusing the privilege. Agreeing ahead of time on how they will disengage removes the chance of it feeling like a punishment.

4 Don't Stand Still

The best way to stay on top of classroom management is to stay in motion. Standing still creates blind spots, where you can’t see some areas of activity very well, and this encourages slip-ups. If you are constantly circling the play area, as opposed to standing in one place, then you are bound to see a lot more action. Not only that, but you will also create the impression of being in multiple places at once, which will encourage students to watch their behavior.

Sarah Moore has been a writer, editor and blogger since 2006. She holds a master's degree in journalism.