Physical Education or Recreation
My mom is a leopard, the kind that can't change her spots. She lives in the moment, says what comes to her mind, and doesn't look back. It’s history, over and done with. I am my father’s daughter, every sentence measured and every action reflected upon. My reflections often border on rumination, obsessing over the smallest misstatement for hours, days, or even years.
So this article is my latest rumination, more a sharing of questions than an article for information.
Recently, a colleague made a statement to the effect that the majority of physical education teachers are no more than recreation directors. My immediate, uncharacteristically, defensive response was, “I am not a recreation director.” Of course, later, I reflected on the moment and analyzed the statement.
Here are the definitions, as simply stated as I could find, without minimizing either profession.
A recreation director, as defined by ehow.com, is a person who plans, organizes and schedules activities for organizations and groups. Recreation directors work at places such as recreational facilities, camps, nursing homes, playgrounds and schools. The primary responsibility of a Recreation Director is to keep the group entertained, enthusiastic and, most of all, active. Most promote healthy living and exercise through their programs.
A physical education teacher as defined by Resume-Resource.com must:
Develop effective lesson plans to teach physical education appropriate to the age or grade level
Teach cognitive concepts about motor skills and fitness
Observe and inform students of corrective measures necessary for skill and improvement
Instruct students on importance of regular amounts of appropriate physical activity now and throughout life
Assess the skill level of students and provide differentiated instruction for various ability groupings
Offer alternatives during classes to accommodate different levels of fitness
Explain and enforce safety rules governing sports, recreational activities, and the use of sports and exercise equipment
Maintain order among students
Document attendance, grades and other records
Confer with parents or guardians, teacher and administrators to report on students’ progress
So there you have it, physical educator and recreation director, two professions that are concerned with providing physical activity to groups of people. Yet, they are fundamentally different in their purpose. One is primarily concerned with the entertainment of a group and the other focused on the physical, cognitive and emotional education of the individual.
So here are the questions I asked myself:
Am I developing lessons or am I simply choosing games?
Are my lessons age appropriate or am I playing the same game with all of the students without modifying it to meet grade level expectations?
Do I actually teach the cognitive concepts related to motor skill acquisition and fitness components or do I simply state the rules of the game?
Am I observing and informing students about their individual skill development and fitness needs or am I refereeing and keeping score of a game.
Do I educate students on the importance of regular, livelong health and fitness concepts?
Am I assessing student learning and then modifying how and what I am teaching to meet the needs of my students? Or am I simply exposing students to different games to provide physical activity?
Am I differentiating instruction to meet the needs of individuals within each class or am I using the one size fits all method because set up and take down is easier?
Do I make accommodations for students with special needs or do I expect all children to “keep up?”
Do I explain the safety rules?
Do I maintain order, teach sportsmanship, character and conflict resolution?
Do I conference with parents?
Do I confer with other teachers and administrators about student progress?
My conclusion, I am a physical education teacher. Not a perfect one, yet! However, as long as I don't become the old dog that can't learn new tricks, I will keep reflecting and changing like a chameleon to meet the educational needs of my students. How about you?