Guidelines to Assist a Principal or Supervisor in Evaluating a Physical Education Lesson/program
o, Donald F., Education
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.
Skills should be taught progressively and drills/activities in sequence, not only to make learning easier, but for safety. The former ensures that physical education is a class and not recess/free play, while the latter will minimize preventable injury and the possibility of law suits.
Along with plenty of physical activity, there should be evidence of teaching/learning taking place. For example, depending upon the activity, standard procedure for skill acquisition might include teacher explanation, correct demonstration by teacher or student, sufficient time for students to practice the skills taught, corrective feedback from the teacher, and evaluation. Drills incorporating the skills taught should be used before students are asked to use the new skills in a competitive-type situation. Moreover, the improvement which comes from correct practice/repetition should be measurable, if not at that time, then at the conclusion of the unit.
The more students directly and consistently involved in activities planned to achieve the stated objectives, the better the lesson. The observer at regular intervals can quickly tally the number of students involved in such activity, compared to those who are not, to gain an idea of the effectiveness of the lesson.
In addition to corrective feedback, teachers should use positive reinforcement to encourage students. However, an overuse of praise, especially when unjustified, might diminish its intended effect. Regardless, positive comments should significantly outnumber negative comments. For verification, it is suggested the observer keep track of each.
Throughout the year a variety of teaching methods (ie. command, challenge, creative, exploratory, etc.) and activities (ie. individual, partner, team, cooperative, competitive) should increase the number of enthusiastic and active participants and better meet the needs and interests of most students, rather than appealing to athletic types only. Also, with physician approval, exceptional students should be mainstreamed whenever possible.
Additionally, a wider variety of activities will more likely satisfy a greater number of desired objectives (ie. muscular strength and endurance, aerobic efficiency, eye-hand/foot coordination, flexibility, proficiency in lifetime sports, etc.).
Finally, physical education, like other subjects, should reflect the changes in society. Due to the increased interest in health and physical fitness, physical education lessons and programs should emphasize health and fitness-oriented activities rather than games, and interest and ability grouping rather than team and sex-role activities (Lumpkin, 1990). Progressive school districts where taxpayers look for measurable educational return on their investment no longer accept year-to-year curriculums consisting primarily of dodgeball, volleyball, and the "Same Old Stuff."
In fact, many college and university health and physical education departments have officially changed their name to the Department of Health and Human Performance, Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Department of Kinesiology, and the like to reflect the new emphasis. However, the revisions should go beyond merely changing names. They should affect philosophy, curriculum, and teaching methods. The 1990s physical educator/exercise scientist should promote wellness and positive behavior modification, and have experience in developing, monitoring, and assessing individualized fitness, as well as teaching motor skills, efficient movement patterns, and social skills.
In sum, physical education, being an integral part of education, should contribute to the total growth and development of students through movement experiences selected with a reason and for a purpose. Moreover, the general goals of physical education should be consistent with the long range goals of all of education- to help students reach their physical, mental, social, and emotional potential to enable them to become well-rounded, productive citizens. Perhaps the guidelines and suggestions aforementioned will better enable principals and supervisors to more accurately observe and evaluate physical education lessons, teachers, and programs, and in doing so, assist in the quest for excellence.
Corbett, D. President's Message. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Update. Reston, Virginia, October 1990.
Lumpkin, A. Physical Education and Sport - A Contemporary Introduction (Second Edition). St. Louis, Missouri, Times Mirror/Mosby College Publishing, 1990.
Siedentop, D. Developing Teaching Skills in Physical Education. Palo Alto, California, Mayfield Publishing Company, 1983.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Guidelines to Assist a Principal or Supervisor in Evaluating a Physical Education Lesson/program. Contributors: o, Donald F. - Author. Journal title: Education. Volume: 114. Issue: 1 Publication date: Fall 1993. Page number: 74+. © 1999 Project Innovation. COPYRIGHT 1993 Gale Group.
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