Guidelines to Assist a Principal or Supervisor in Evaluating a Physical Education Lesson/program

Article excerpt

Since the nature and setting of physical education is different from most classroom subjects, some principals may feel a little less comfortable evaluating a physical education lesson, teacher, or program. Of course a good principal should be able to recognize an effective lesson in any subject when he or she sees one, as well as an ineffective one. But except for the obvious, can someone without training in physical education be expected to objectively differentiate between a marginal lesson and a good one, or a good lesson and an outstanding one? What attitudes/behaviors should the principal look for when evaluating the performance of a physical education teacher? Moreover, what skills or activities should be included in the physical education curriculum? What competencies should the principal expect the students to achieve? These and other questions might concern a principal who feels a lack of expertise in a gymnasium/athletic field environment.

Adding to the problem is that, unfortunately, only four states- New Jersey, Illinois, New York, and California- have specific physical education requirements in all grades K-12 (Corbett, 1990). This means that, for the most part, each school district will need to determine what its physical education requirements will be.

Generally speaking, the quality of a physical education program will depend primarily on the philosophy, competence, and commitment of the teacher. That can be determined to a large extent by the choice of activities, course content, methods/styles of teaching, teaching strategies employed, class management, and the effective use of time, equipment, and supplies.

Consequently, it would be advantageous if principals and supervisors were aware of methods to properly observe and evaluate a physical education lesson, teacher, and program. If not, they could be using unreliable and invalid methods of observation and assessment, including intuitive judgment, anecdotal notes, eyeballing, checklists, and rating scales, all of which too often are influenced by the subjective opinion of the person doing the evaluating (Siedentop, 1983).

To make a more objective evaluation of a lesson, depending upon what the evaluator is specifically trying to determine, time situations by counting minutes, assess involvement by counting the number of people actively participating or not participating, determine positive and corrective reinforcement by counting the number of appropriate or inappropriate feedbacks by the teacher or responses by the students, and the like. This should result in a more accurate and defendable evaluation.

Following are some suggestions which may assist the principal or supervisor in observing and evaluating a physical education lesson.

The physical education teacher should be organized and have a written lesson plan that is clear, concise, and in sufficient detail so that a substitute could teach from it if need be. At minimum, the plan should include suggested warm-ups, the activities planned for that period, how long each activity should take, objectives written in behavioral terms, the rules/directions necessary to participate, exact number of pieces of equipment/supplies (ie. 10 jump ropes, 4 basketballs) needed to conduct the activity as planned, diagrams and procedures to clarify formations, and teaching tips/suggestions to assist a substitute who may not be familiar with that particular activity. Also, the location of a reference source which includes the activity, with the appropriate page(s) noted so the substitute can refer to it if desired (ie. tumbling book with author's name in bottom left drawer of desk, p. 31-35).

There should be proper utilization of time. Roll, bending and stretching exercises, and other appropriate warm-ups should be completed within ten minutes. A minute or two of brief but to the point directions should prepare the class for the focus of the lesson. As much time as possible should be devoted to activities which directly help students learn/practice the skills being taught, and accomplish the stated objectives. …