Common Core Is Finding Its Way Into Gym Class, Leaving Physical Ed Teachers Unprepared

It isn’t just math and English teachers who are being told to adopt Common Core State Standards anymore. In fact, it seems that Common Core has made its way into some gym classes.

According to Slate, many physical education teachers are being told to incorporate Common Core State Standards into gym time whenever possible. How does Common Core and gym class work together? The concept is rather simple. Gym teachers can find ways to include math, reading or writing in everyday gym activities. Michelle Ortiz, the senior program manager for the Society of Health and Physical Educators, told the Blaze that many teachers are embracing the Common Core standards in their gym class by creating innovative lesson plans. Among the ways to incorporate Common Core is to require students use language skills in writing food logs. In earlier grades, it involves allowing certain games to be scored by two points, five points or 10 points as a way of teaching children multiplication, Ortiz said.

However, Ortiz notes that physical education classes should focus first on ensuring children have enough gym time and are remaining physically fit, not just getting extra math time. The process of determining what to teach and when can also be confusing for some gym teachers who should be focused first on ensuring the class is getting enough physical fitness time.

“For some teachers it might be overwhelming since their first objective for the teaching year is not math and reading. But this is not asking health and physical education teachers to teach math and reading. It is rather reinforcing and helping students apply what they have learned in other classes.”

Though Common Core State Standards are not requiring gym teachers to include math and reading to their curriculum, that hsn’t stopped some schools from telling gym teachers to devote a certain amount of class time to math and reading skills, said Martha James-Hassan, director of physical education graduate programs at Towson University. Hassan notes that the approach is not outlined in Common Core Standards and is more of a quick fix for school administration.

“That’s not necessarily the instructional shift outlined by the Common Core. That’s a less-informed Band-Aid approach.”

In addition to time constraints, some teachers feel they do not have the abilities to properly teach math or reading standards. Michael Fisher, a New York-based instructional coach and consultant hired by schools and districts to help teachers align noncore subjects to the standards, notes that gym teachers aren’t trained to teach English and math. Teachers often tell Fisher that they feel unprepared and intimidated, both by the Common Core and teaching outside their specialization. And because gym teachers often have students of all grade levels, some say they now feel pressured to learn a staggering number of standards, according to the Blaze.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to incorporate basic Common Core math and reading skills into school gym time?