This is an excerpt from Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children-19th Edition by Robert P. Pangrazi & Aaron Beighle.
An effective learning environment offers a set of instructional behaviors that occur regularly. These behaviors do not describe a specific method or teaching style but allow for individual approaches to teaching content. The focus is less on what the teacher does and more on what the students do. Any teaching style that produces high rates of student-engaged time and positive attitudes toward the subject matter is considered an effective teaching style. Evidence from teacher effectiveness research indicates that, regardless of the teacher's instructional style, an educational environment is most effective when the following elements (figure 6.1) are present. The common thread that runs through these characteristics is a high level of physical activity through well-planned, efficient lessons.
- Students are engaged in appropriate learning activities for a large percentage of class time. Students should be engaged in physical activity for at least 50% of the lesson time. As a result, effective teachers use class time wisely. They plan carefully and insist on appropriate learning activities that deal with the subject matter while maintaining high levels of physical activity. Students need time to learn; effective teachers ensure that students use class time to receive information and practice skills. They accomplish this goal by selecting learning activities that are matched to students' abilities and contribute to overall class objectives.
- The learning atmosphere is success oriented and has a positive, caring climate. Teachers who develop a supportive atmosphere foster learning and positive student attitudes toward school. Appropriate social and organizational behavior needs to be supported by teachers. Students and teachers must feel positive about working and learning in the physical education environment.
- Students are given clear objectives and receive high rates of feedback from the teacher and the environment. Students need to know what they are going to be held accountable for in class. Class activities are arranged so students spend large amounts of time engaged in physical activity and learning the required objectives. Instructional activities are clearly tied to class objectives. Positive and corrective feedback is offered regularly, and students receive feedback on learning attempts even if the teacher is unavailable.
- Student progress is monitored regularly, and students are accountable for learning in physical education. Instructional strategies and activities are selected to ensure that students progress toward meeting lesson objectives. Youngsters know exactly what is expected of them and how the expectations are tied to the accountability system. The reward system focuses on making small, progressive steps toward a larger goal.
- Low rates of management time and efficient transitions from one activity to another characterize the environment. Effective teachers manage students well. Students move smoothly from one learning activity to another and spend little time waiting during instructional activities. Equipment is organized to facilitate smooth transitions. Instructional procedures are all well planned and tightly organized with little wasted time.
- Students spend a limited amount of time waiting in line or in other unproductive behaviors. In effective instructional environments, students are engaged in subject matter most of the time. For physical education, this means high rates of time spent practicing, drilling, and playing. Physical education is activity based, and students learn best when practice and learning times are maximized.
- Teachers plan their lessons and set high but realistic expectations for student achievement. Effective planning implies that teachers have selected developmentally appropriate learning activities for students. Activities must not be too easy or too difficult. Students need success and challenge from learning activities, and a balance of both is critical to quality teaching. Expect students to learn and hold them accountable for their progress.
- Teachers are enthusiastic about what they are doing and are actively involved in the instructional process. Students need an enthusiastic model—someone who incorporates physical activity into his or her lifestyle. Active involvement means active supervision, enthusiasm, and high interaction rates with students. These characteristics enhance learning regardless of the teaching style used; they are important for ensuring student achievement and positive attitudes.
Figure 6.1 Characteristics of quality instruction.