Safety in the gym is my top priority. I know when my students feel safe emotionally and physically they are able to enjoy physical activity. In addition when students feel safe they are more likely to actively engage, take risks, and associate good feelings with physical activity! Creating a safe environment comes from clearly communicating my expectations and then fully expecting students to operate within the communicated framework.
So, how have I set up a framework to promote this positive learning environment?
In the past I have had 3rd, 4th and 5th graders rotate through stations. Each station has a simple physical activity which could be completed safely with few instructions. On a task card I have written and illustrated a rule, expectation, or protocol.
Many stations include simple management procedures like:” Go get a drink of water and talk about when is a great time to use the drinking fountain, when should we NOT use it? Now practice throwing and catching the tennis ball against the wall, how many times can you catch the ball?” We have reviewed choosing partners, fire drill, getting equipment, lock down…the same way. These are procedures that tend to stay the same from year to year.
I want students to have ownership in their behavior. Research tells us that when students take part in developing their own learning they are more likely to develop ownership. In light of this research, students write on flags (cut pieces of construction paper) stating one way they can demonstrate our school positive behavior acronym: SOAR. S= Safety, O=Ownership, A=Attitude, R=Respect. When they completed their flag they staple it up on our SOAR bulletin board. These flags have included:
no put downs or criticizing others
always do your best
follow all the safety rules
never touch equipment until you have instructions
when you mess up, own up and make a change
respect others space and feelings
At the completion of class discuss the behavior expectation flags. Students make a verbal commitment to “SOAR” each and every time they are in the gym.