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Posts Tagged ‘Uniforms’

Two years ago, everyone dressed out in my class. When I say dressed out, they wore an assigned uniform where all kids looked the same. I had very few kids not dressing out for class. One a day maybe was probably my average.

Notice in this picture our PE uniforms. All people are wearing same thing. This picture is taken in 2007 most likely.

You were either wearing the Moore Traditional School uniform or you were considered unprepared for class. When I wrote this post, What is the importance of Dressing Out,  less than a year ago, I was toying with the idea of eliminating my dress requirements all together.  After reading that post again recently, I felt very ashamed of what I was doing to kids last year. I was making them wait on a wall for 5-7 minutes prior to the start of class and withholding them from “free time” which I use as a classroom currency.

At the start of the six weeks, when I introduce to students to what my class will be like for the term, I make it clear that two things are most important to me. Number one, is that they feel safe and comfortable in my class, and two is that they are active the whole time during their class time.

The irony was that I was making kids sit out and usually the kids that are not dressed out are the ones who are the least comfortable in my class. So that segment of my class was really receiving unjust treatment. That segment supposedly was the audience I was gearing my instruction to.

What motivated my post a year ago about the importance of dressing out was a bullying incident that I felt could have been avoided if the kid simply did not want to change for class. To date, that has been the most viewed post on this site. Dressing for class will always be a hot topic in the area of physical education.

For me, I believe I have found a procedure that creates comfort in students and makes my class more enjoyable for students. I also believe my activity level in kids has risen as a result. Now, kids are allowed to wear whatever they want with no restrictions. I leave open the option to tell a student that if I am uncomfortable with what the have on, I will ask that they do not dress and just not bring those clothes again. So far, that has not happened. If a student has opted not to change clothes there is no consequence other than a simple loss of 2 points out of ten. After a couple times, I council with the student and usually determine that they are just uncomfortable changing in front of peers. When that occurs, it’s likely that I will adjust their grade when the time comes to reflect their activity level. If I did not have the grade requirement in place then I feel there would be more kids come in and feel detached from the class and choose to sit out. So I think as a whole it helps somewhat.

Using anecdotal observations from class, the atmosphere seems much more positive (though the environment has always been positive for the most part.) About 3 kids a class are usually not dressed out for class. And I do not have that awful procedure where kids are waiting out prior to class! To be successful in middle school you have to be able to view life through their eyes. Every single situation is magnified to them. As adults we take for granted all the little nuances that affect them daily.

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The most awesome PE program ever.

Photo is simply a screen shot of their website.

http://www.hawkspe.com/index.htm
Amelia Earhart Middle School in California, has the PE program that
all PE teachers visualize before being thrust into real world
situations, where class sizes, lack of facilites, lack of
equipment, and poor administrative support all become realities. If
you clicked that link to their site and do not read anything beyond
here you will get the point. I want to be clear, I have no
affiliation with this school and do not know anyone from this
school. I am simply forming my thoughts and opinions based on
stumbling across a link to their website on www.pecentral.com.

-The first thing I noticed was the variety of exceptional PE equipment, ie. Rock Wall, Cargo Net, Ping Pong Tables, Climbing Ropes, Fitness Center equipped with flat screen TVs, Exergaming equipment, computer lab, and an array of fitness equipment. Just absolutely incredible!

-Second thing that stuck out to me was the amount of Physical Education teachers. In my district and state, to even have one PE teacher seems to be a luxury for schools. Because of accountability tests, administrators are feeling the pressure to perform well in Reading and Math. As a result, kids are being pulled from PE classes or cutting PE programs all together. To be able to have 5 teachers that can collaborate provides enormous flexibility and support. Most PE teachers I know pretty much work by themselves in developing all activities and curriculum. -Third, I was blown away that all kids in the photos were not only dressed out but their shirts were also tucked in. As a teacher who used to require students to wear uniforms, I know the difficulty of getting all kids to dress out all the time in one particular outfit. Kids would buy a uniform in the beginning of the term but some would lose their uniform before the term ended. I usually had them get a parent note and then allowed them to wear clothes from home. As I dove deeper into the site, I found their procedures/consequences for not dressing out. I found them quite clever. They had loaner uniforms that students had to check out if they forgot their assigned uniform. Forgetting once, warning, twice, detention, three times, a referral. Now in regards to dressing out, I have relaxed my stance and I think for the students who are not happy going to PE regardless of the program, it creates less stress and anxiety. It has also caused less financial strain on my PE budget and the parent’s budget. But I do respect their program, and their policies towards dressing out.

____________________

As a whole, it appears that kids get one whole year of PE everyday. They get a well rounded program that includes one day a week in the fitness center completing traditional exercise and learning the proper methods. They also get a variety of team sports, individual activities, and lifelong activities. There seems to be a great balance in their curriculum. While I am not a great advocate for skills tests, because they have a whole year with the students, I think they are good for going into depth on certain fundamental sport related skills, as long as it is not a large percentage of their grade. I do think assessments such as those require students to be a bit more serious. I would love to teach at that school, and I would love for my kids to go to that school. That is the ultimate compliment I can give to any program. In fact, the program has inspired me to reevaluate my program and see if there are any changes I can make to improve what I am already doing. I hope you find the same inspiration as me while looking at the site.
Enjoy!

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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.

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