Adding PE

Tackling Additional PE for Younger Students Requires Teamwork
Posted on 08/12/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Tackling Additional PE for Younger Students Requires TeamworkDuring the Martin Elementary Summer Scholars program, children who had never run a mile did. Thanks to the encouragement of Amy Glasgow, a certified physical education teacher, and the bump from the usual 40 minutes a week to 1 hour per day, students worked toward the distance goal, learned more about the importance of stretching and discovered the fun in team sports and twists like transforming a board game into a life-sized Hungry, Hungry Hippos match.

“I approached it as fun activities that students will love but also would mean they are constantly moving. It’s summer and they need to have fun,” Glasgow reported as the program concluded.

The ten-year teaching veteran is hopeful that with recent adjustments, the 2021-22 school year will provide more opportunities to instill such attitudes in her students.
“I am super excited about the new PE law,” she said. “I understand that there is not enough time to squeeze in additional minutes for all the students and the issues from the school building standpoint. I’m sure it’s a nightmare. But it opens up more time with my kids which they desperately need.”

The new PE law Glasgow references is a legislated mandate requiring elementary students across the state to receive twice weekly classes totaling at least 60 minutes and all taught by certified teachers. To comply with the law meant administrators had to find those teachers and ensure they had the space required.

The Tom Cronan Physical Education Act, signed into law in 2018, was written to address health concerns in children including childhood obesity. However, the call for the increase in physical education classes was to go into effect as the world was facing a pandemic. As a result of the health crisis and, in part due to the lack of certified PE teachers to lead those classes, districts requested waivers. For three years, districts got a “bye” and did not have to make all the additions. However, in 2021-22, time has run out and schools are in a full court press to ensure they meet the demands of the law.

Weakley County initially received a waiver from the certification requirement. Elementary teachers who were not certified physical education instructors assumed the responsibility for the increased active learning. This year, the district added Corrie Neal.

Neal will serve as a traveling PE teacher to assist Dresden, Gleason, and Sharon elementary schools. Those schools are in a position shared by schools across the state – too many students for the limited number of certified PE teachers to cover.

Neal will work alongside existing certified PE teachers Stacy Williams at Dresden, Jason Stephens at Gleason, and Robert Browning at Sharon to ensure all kindergarten through fifth graders receive the allocated hours for physical education. Not only will she be going to each town, she will also be traveling from classroom to classroom when the gym is already booked.

Neal acknowledges when using classrooms, she will have to be creative to cover standards such as introducing skipping, jogging, and sliding or shuffling to kindergarten through second graders, sports skills to third through fifth graders, and teamwork to all. Additional challenges like the recent heat wave when safety concerns meant students could not go outside will also need to be overcome.

Neal says she plans on incorporating an “I do; we do; you do” approach to her instruction and integrate other critical skills such as counting, addition, and subtraction.

A former soccer player with the University of Tennessee at Martin, Neal received her master’s in 2018 from Austin Peay State University. During her advanced degree work, she came to a deeper understanding of her role.

Certified in kindergarten through 12th grade, she points out, “I am passionate about teaching and love my elementary kids. There are so many fun things to do. While I have a heavy sports background, I really value the chance to love on the younger students and be a positive presence for them.”

Other certified elementary PE teachers in the county are Hal Blackman at Greenfield and Lisa Beam at Martin Primary.

While the addition of time and the requirement of certified teachers has resulted in the anticipated logistical challenges, Weakley County administrators understand the importance of balancing the health and safety as well as academic needs of students.

“We know how important physical education is for our younger students,” noted Bethany Allen, who oversees Coordinated School Health for the county. “Learning early to make it a priority will serve them well in adulthood.”

And physical education is shown to enhance academics as well.

“Art, music and PE all affect test scores,” Neal underscored. “When they have more of each, students do better.”

PHOTOS

Hungry Hippo
Martin Elementary students enjoyed a life-sized version of the popular board game Hungry, Hungry Hippos as part of the physical education program during Summer Scholars.

Neal teaching locomotor skills
Corrie Neal is the new physical education teacher serving Weakley County. Here she is directing Gleason students in a series of activities to introduce and improve on locomotor skills.