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 Academy to Inspire, Empower PE Leaders

Outstanding physical education classes don't look anything like they used to.

Today, the classes, much like any other subject, include standards-aligned content focused on problem solving, critical thinking, and ability building. On top of that, the kids have to stay active and learn about living a healthy lifestyle.

"It should look like a health and physical education activity lab class," said Paige Metz, health and physical education coordinator for the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE). "There needs to be evidence of cognitive and emotional learning."

To help foster and support that change, SDCOE and San Diego Unified School District have created a Physical Education Leadership Academy.

Teachers can attend four different two-day sessions as part of the academy, each focusing on a different aspect of physical education. The sessions run from October to May and focus on rethinking class time to maximize physical activity, perfecting performance-based assessment, instructional strategies for student-centered learning, and meeting the needs of all students. 

This is the first time for the academy, which is intended to pick off where other professional development left off and focus on systemic, high-impact change.

"This will be a deep delve into implementation, similar to a lab practicum," Metz said.

Teachers who attend all four sessions may qualify for recognition as an SDCOE Physical Education Leader. Those teachers could help build capacity at their schools or districts and serve as examples for others throughout the county.

A high-impact physical education class might have students collaborating to create games, debriefing after an activity, creating personal fitness plans, or breaking into small groups to teach each other skills.

"It's just like you would do in any other discipline. It needs to be about student learning," Metz said.