November 5, 2018

Physical Education - Re-engineered!
I recently read an article in the Chicago Tribune about how HS District 230 in south suburban Cook County is changing their physical education programming. High school students in this district participate in PE like many adults participate in expensive health club activities. The article states "Clara Bailey pedals her stationary bike along winding roads and over virtual mountains without ever leaving the basement of Carl Sandburg High School, thanks to newly installed cycling technology. Upstairs, girls enrolled in dance class leap across the room while monitoring their heart rates on a projected screen."
In other classes students flip tires, push sleds and shake battle ropes. I want my grandchildren to attend these classes. No, I want to attend these classes!
Why don't all Illinois high school students have PE classes such as these? The Illinois General Assembly recently passed a law allowing school districts to reduce daily physical education classes to physical education classes only three days per week. Why was this change made? Why are many students, parents and others happy this change was made?
I believe the reason many students, parents and others want to reduce the student time spent in physical education classes is that they don't see the purpose in most PE programs.
Several years ago I was working with school administrators as they were learning how to evaluate teachers and were concentrating on the Danielson Domain/Component 3c "Engaging Students in Learning." In this middle school I observed a physical education class in which students were spinning, watching a Go Pro camera recording the instructor had filmed while riding Lake Shore Drive the previous summer, and high energy music was playing. Each student had on a heart monitor and a program was recording the efforts of all the students. All of the students in this class were actively participating and enjoying the workout. All of the students were working at their own targeted heart rate set by the teacher and when I talked to the students, they could explain the health benefits of exercise and proper nutrition.
In the District 230 program mentioned in the Tribune article, the curriculum has changed and students no longer take a separate health class and physical education class. These classes are combined and provide instruction in both fitness and nutrition. What great long term benefits these students will gain by this type of instruction. Why aren't all schools teaching health and physical education this way?
The Value of Taking Time for Self
I am asked to present at IASA Region meetings on a regular basis and region members are very interested in the political landscape in Springfield as it relates to education. I confer with IASA Director of Governmental Relations Diane Hendren and she gives me the current political news to pass on. I put my own spin on this material and hopefully members learn a little something they can use in their role as a school leader.
In addition, this year I have been sharing a shortened version of a relatively new administrator academy I lead. My version centers on "Work - Life Balance" and is a result of some serious past health problems that I encountered and how these have changed my life. I often write in this space about health, diet and exercise because these are three integral aspects of my own life.
As I look at and communicate with school leaders across Illinois I have noticed that many leaders are not taking time for self. The job of school superintendent is very complex and time consuming. In this digital age superintendents can find themselves immersed in work virtually 24/7. When you are working 24/7 when do you have time for self? How about time for family, faith, and friends?
A chilling metaphor I use in this academy is a message I received from a veteran school board member in my first superintendency. I was working late in my district office one night (about midnight) when I was startled to hear someone knocking on the window behind my desk. I turned around to see this veteran school board president. He motioned for me to open the office door and when he entered he asked me what I was doing working at midnight. I told him I was working on the next year's budget, and he responded with the following: "No one is going to put on your gravestone that you were working on the school budget at midnight, get home and spend time with your family."
At a recent region meeting a superintendent talked to me following my work-life presentation. He communicated his experience in setting personal goals as a result of the IASA School for Advanced Leadership (ISAL) training he had completed. He told me that he has adjusted his personal schedule to make sure he spends quality time with his wife and children. He reported to his board of education that he had made this a personal goal as a result of the ISAL training. To his surprise, the entire school board not only backed his goal but has made modifications in the role expectations for his superintendent position. My advice to those of you reading this article is to start making some personal goals to spend more time with family, faith, self and friends. You will not regret these new goals.
This Works!
For the past few years I have been working with a variety of school districts around IASA's administrators' academy titled " Coaching Teacher Evaluators to Effectively Rate Teachers" (AAC #1787) .
This is the actual application of the teacher evaluation material gained in the administrators' academy. I collect evidence along with the evaluator and then the evaluator and I reflect on this information immediately following the activity. Often I also shadow the evaluator while they are conducting the actual reflection conference with the teacher. In almost every case when I do this work the teacher evaluator wants more shadowing. They reflect with me and tell me this was the most powerful learning experience they have had as a school administrator. Contact me at or 217-741-0466 if you want additional information on this topic or you would like to schedule this professional development for your teacher evaluators.
Tip of the Week
Take a look at the physical education curriculum in your schools. Does it look like the two examples I described above? Could it?

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Richard Voltz
Associate Director
Professional Development/Induction-Mentoring
2648 Beechler Court
Springfield, IL 62703
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