I'm using a new process for generating essential agreements in my physical education classes this year. Student voice is a very powerful force in advocating for physical education's rightful place in a school's curriculum. So, as a starting point last week I asked my students the following question:
For a few minutes I discussed with them what is happening with PE classes in some schools around the world. That PE time is being cut and in some drastic cases, cut from the curriculum entirely. Although our school, Nanjing International School, would never do this, I asked my students to imagine that PE was being cut in order for them to empathize with students around the world who are losing PE time.
I set them off on a 'walk & talk' and had them come up with strong reasons why PE should be an important part of their school experience. I had yellow sticky notes ready to go and they were then asked to write their ideas down and post them around the driving question in the visual that you see above.
After collecting all of their ideas and looking through them, I was able to nail down several key ideas about why PE is important. I then used these key ideas to create the following visual. All ideas came from the students. In some cases I had to clarify what the student was trying to say and help them re-write their ideas to help it make better sense.
I blogged last week about the process I am using to create essential agreements this year. Using the visual of student ideas related to why PE is important, I then asked the students to think about essential agreements that we will put into practice in PE for the rest of the school year. I set them off on a 'walk & talk' to discuss their ideas. One pair of students actually decided to park themselves in front of the visual to discuss their ideas which was great to see.
After a few minutes we came together for a whole group discussion about their thoughts and ideas related to the essential agreements. There was a little confusion at first, but once I clarified the task, they were firing ideas at me left and right. We decided to focus on big ideas. Each big idea can easily be broken down to mini-ideas. For example, showing respect can mean many things. Better to have 5 or 6 big ideas rather than 10-12 smaller ideas. My students came up with what they feel to be 5 worthy essential agreements and here they are. It was a cool start to the year using this new format for generating essential agreements in PE. I will repeat the process with each grade level. Each grade level will have their own list of agreements. These visuals are great to hang up on the walls of the gym, especially when it comes to managing students.
Should a student do something questionable that breaks one of the essential agreements, all that is needed to be done is send them over to the visual to reflect on their behavior. In most cases, they will immediately understand which essential agreement was broken and it is easy to have a discussion with them about it. A very non-intrusive and non-threatening student management approach that is done in a respectful way.