Part 1: Entering the Gym (Making Those Minutes Disappear a Little Less Quickly)

So excited for the new school year!!!

Sorry, had to get that out. I absolutely love everything about teaching physical education content to my students. I also love to organize my class in a way that eliminates wasted transitional times. As soon as my students get to class, the learning has begun. They are expected to follow the first important routine of physical education, how to enter the gym.

Because of my schedule, each class is only allotted 30 minutes for physical education.

(Yes, 30 minutes :/)

I need every one of those minutes to maximize student learning. Entering the gym can be one of those transitional times that cause those minutes to disappear quickly.

Consider the example below.

Miss. Piper’s class of twenty-nine students walk through the open doors of the gym. They spot their teacher standing near the far wall waiting for them. Half of the students in Miss. Piper’s class run toward the physical education teacher. The teacher yells for the students to stop running. The entire class finally gathers around the teacher. Students listen to these directions

“Find a partner and review what is the difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic activity”.

After the last students have found partners, the teacher gives the students four minutes to complete the assignment. After the students have reviewed the difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic, the teacher turns their attention to the board for the new concept of the day.

How much time do you think has past in this lesson? Think about what still needs to be done: Teaching of the new concept, activity, and assessment, exiting the gym on time. This also doesn’t count the additional time this teacher will spend on transitional time.

Now consider this example:

A poster hangs just outside the gym door. The poster reads, “Once you enter the gym, look on screen for your partner. Discuss the difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic activities. Perform one of each activity 4 minutes”. Miss. Piper’s class reads the poster before coming into the gym. Teacher turns the music on. After four minutes the teacher turns the music off. Teacher calls on a random group to share their discussion and what activities they chose to perform. After another group shares, the teacher asks a student to read the new concept on the board.

How much time do you think has past in this lesson? Do you also notice how little the teacher is actually doing? There were numerous transition periods: Coming in, Warm-up, getting partners, and content review. All of this is possible because the teacher created a system for entering the gym students are expected to follow.

Every situation is different. So how you want students to enter your teaching space may differ from what I have. The key is choosing a system that you know will help your class begin quickly and smoothly. Make the students adjust to fit your system. Below is the system I use for my students entering my gym. I will give examples for Primary (5 to 7 year olds) and Intermediate (8 to 11 year olds)

Entering the gym

Primary (5 to 7)

  • Students come in and sit in their color spots, color wall, or in their own self-space.
  • For the first couple of class, I use task cards to visually represent what I want from the students.

Intermediate (8 to 11)

  • Students look at the ” Once you enter the gym” poster. When they enter, students are expected to do what the poster said.


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Things to remember

I use the word “expected” quite a bit. I have expectations of the students and these are non- negotiable. I have them posted in the cafe/gym/auditorium. The students spend the first couple of classes learning and practicing until they demonstrate it to my satisfaction. So this can last 10 minutes, or a whole class period. To me, this is better than struggling during the school year. However, if you begin to see students slip, don’t hesitate to address it.

When teaching students how to enter the gym, consistency is vital. Not only does having a set system benefit student learning by decreasing wasted class time, it also lowers the stress level for a teacher (Who wants to correct the same behavior every class?).

I would love to hear about how others have their classes enter their teaching space. Please share!

8 Comments on “Part 1: Entering the Gym (Making Those Minutes Disappear a Little Less Quickly)

  1. Great job, I have went as far as attaching dry erase boards to the outside of the gym doors so the messages can be changed easier.

    • That is great. I don’t have a dry erase board so I tape two white pieces of construction paper together. Then I laminate them so I can use a dry erase marker to write on it. Made my class start so much smoother

  2. I often begin with running, moving around the room or jumping rope (ages8-11) that way they get to enter the gym and begin moving immediately.- Then they are ready to stop and focus on directions. I also take attendance as they warm up. Less time on another task.

    • The tasks I put on our “Once You Enter the Gym” are usually active in nature. I also use it as a review tool for concepts we learned in the previous class.

      Attendance is something that I have to be more consistent with. Many times I just want to just right in and teach and I struggle to remember the more “procedural duties”.

  3. Pingback: Part 2: The Ready Position (Making the Minutes Disappear a Little Less Quickly) | PHYSEDAGOGY

  4. Pingback: Part 2: The Ready Position (Making the Minutes Disappear a Little Less Quickly) | #Physed Blog Library

  5. I also have directions posted as students enter the gym and take time to teach a seamless transition into class. I have used both dry erase boards and laminated signs that are easy to switch for different age levels. The routines for different age groups is quick and efficient and includes some personal goal setting for the class period. Students are engaged as soon as they walk through the door.

    • Liz,

      It took me a while to implement this routine (My 6th year of teaching!) But since it has done wonders, just like in your gym. Puts more responsibility on the students too.

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