I just received the August issue of JOPERD (Journal of physical education recreation & dance) which highlighted an article on Teacher Enthusiasm! Opening this discussion was a story about a student teacher’s effect on the energy of a PE class. It made me reflect on a few moments during my student teaching in which my cooperating teacher acted as a role model for enthusiasm. Students ran into the gymnasium because they enjoyed his sense of humor and he made exercises into games like “squat-thrust masters” that were fun to do.

Incidentally this enthusiastic cooperating teacher was also a successful lacrosse coach. I think that was no accident. I have observed other PE teachers who also coached during my field experiences and have struggled with energizing students and players. I am not sure what affected their demeanor, they were unhappy about something and did not hide it well. Of course they will not admit it but teaching and coaching obligations can make for a very long day indeed.

On the topic of obligations JOPERD posed this question: “Should Interscholastic coaches be required to submit learning outcomes and assessment plans to the athletic director at the beginning of the season?

The responses were all over the place. Those against having coaches submit preseason plans to the Athletic Directors bemoaned bureaucracy and complained that more paperwork would burden athletics. One said it should be ADs responsibility while another claimed it pointless to submit to AD because they are not familiar with skills. Still more say it should have been done in PE and that testing players in sport is inappropriate.

It is true that Athletic Directors have many responsibilities in the organization and operation of the schools athletic programs. However one key responsibility of the AD is to evaluate coaches. Another thing that teachers and coaches should share (in addition to enthusiasm) is being evaluated. Why are athletic departments associated with school in the first place? One might say it is to prepare better college student-athletes.

It was pointed out (by a fellow TCNJ student!) that NJ coaches are certified teachers which add credibility to the program. Yes coaches are educators and therefore must be accountable. Parents deserve more evidence and feedback from coaches than just stats of win-loss columns. Sure it is more work but if there needs to be a mid-season adjustment then make it. Just because the core curriculum struggles to get learning objectives and assessments to work does not mean sports should throw in the towel – you have to excel to be ‘extra-curricular.’

The overarching responsibility of interscholastic is to promote the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play in all athletic contests and to safeguard the physical, mental, social, and moral welfare of all high school student-athletes. To accomplish this requires explicit planning and assessment.

One last note on enthusiasm. People who are enthusiastic about being physically active tend to actually be active. I am happy to talk about running and am pleased to share with you three articles here;