Last week, I tweeted:
A bullying incident occurred today in the locker room that has me questioning the value of even dressing out in #PE classes. ;( Thoughts?
From going into the locker room with lack of supervision, to being completely uncomfortable changing your clothes, almost everyone can recall an embarrassing situation or an encounter with a bully that can be traced back to a locker room in PE class. I work really hard to provide a very positive classroom climate where kids feel comfortable taking risks in front of their peers. I know that on most days I am successful because I give class evaluations that tell me so. However, at the end of the day, there are still kids that predict their success in my class based on how many days they have been dressed out.
In most PE classes the grading procedures are very similar. You receive a daily grade for being prepared, having a good attitude, and participating. In addition, some teachers have quizzes and written work that might account for another percentage of the grade. My ratio, is 75/25. 75 percent for being prepared (on time and dressed), participating, and contributing towards a positive atmosphere. 25 percent for completing written quizzes, tests, evaluations, and portfolio assignments.
You see, part of what motivates me as a teacher, is the fact that when a student of mine recalls their time spent in my class, I would like them to think about my enthusiasm for learning and being active. I clearly do not want them to think, I dressed out everyday in Mr. McKune’s class so I must have done good. I want them to know how to evaluate their own personal health and I want them to gain an interest and awareness of how their actions affect their mental, physical and social health.
Currently, if a student does not dress out in my class they lose three out of ten daily points. In addition to that, they are required to wait on a wall near my office located in the gym. This is usually no more than 5 minutes. Through trial and error over 9 years this has become the best way for me to deal with non dressers. It provides a disincentive for students who enjoy being active, and for those who do not enjoy being active, it reveals the symptoms of discomfort. This allows me the opportunity to talk and counsel those students and assure them that I can protect them and that others are feeling the same self-conscious feelings as well.
Even though the procedures for the most part work for me, there is no doubt that the locker rooms are a black eye on my class legacy. During the final six weeks of school, I am contemplating removing any dressing requirement and seeing how the atmosphere is affected. I am going to still allow students to dress but make it optional. This will allow kids who are not comfortable the opportunity to not have to deal with embarrassment. To determine which procedure yields the safest atmosphere while maintaining high academic standards, I will take data from my course evaluations and compare them to those after completing the final six weeks. I will also consider anecdotal evidence and observations to determine the best possible method for me going forward. Key phrase there, is “for me.”
I would really love for people to comment on this post and provide experience and suggestions. Maybe I can provide feedback periodically or create some type of journal so that at the end of my experience I can help everyone. The goal of this blog is to create better PE programs across the world, starting with mine.