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Physical Education Leadership Academy: San Diego County Office of Education


SDCOE 2.1.16

Get ready for the new P.E.
In San Diego County students will be held accountable for working collaboratively to solve problems and think critically while participating in high activity physical education.
This new way of teaching an age-old class will be carried out by teachers trained by the San Diego County Office of Education’s Physical Education Leadership Academy.
“These are not the physical education classes we all experienced growing up,” said Paige Metz, San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) Curriculum Coordinator for Health and Physical Education.
“We are being strategic and deliberate in how we teach. What we’ve done in the past isn’t going to help us reach the markers we have set,” Metz said. “We no longer want kids to just be busy, happy and good.”
Metz created the Leadership Academy, along with San Diego USD Resource Teacher Lynn Barnes-Wallace.The Academy provides four sessions of professional development to teachers over the course of seven months, covering:
  • Rethinking class time to maximize physical activity;
  • Perfecting performance-based assessment; holding students accountable;
  • Instructional strategies for student-centered learning; creating self-reliant learners; and
  • Meeting the needs of all students, including targeted populations; creating strategies to engage all students with informational texts.
One thing setting this program apart from traditional “sit and get” professional development is the format. For each session, teachers attend an initial two-hour “frontloading” of the topic.  Following this lesson, the teachers go back to their schools and implement the changes in pedagogy with their classes and collect student data for about two weeks.
The teachers then return for a one-day debrief, where they process, share and strategize for further implementation, Metz said. “We discuss what the data told them. What worked? What didn’t work? How can we use this information to reach other teachers?”
Metz said that previously, teachers were attending standards-based trainings “that were based on theory, but there wasn’t a whole lot of support so they could change their teaching practice.”
Using the Academy model, “teachers conduct their own inquiry. They try on the changes and spend time living with them” to determine how to effectively implement them.
Metz said that having teachers bring back student data and evidence of student learning is critical. “It’s amazing how different the actual student data can be from the impression teachers had,” she said.
For example, an important goal of the Academy is to maximize the time students are spending in moderate to vigorous activity in physical education classes.
When teachers kept track of how class time was actually being used, “they were floored,” Metz said. “So they looked at their practices to see where they could make changes.  They found that some things they had traditionally been doing weren’t a good use of time, and they needed to be more efficient, effective and strategic.”
According to SDCOE’s website, teachers who participate in the Academy will:
  • Understand how critical shifts in pedagogy promote 21st century learning;
  • Use instructional practices with content that meaningfully engages all students on a daily basis;
  • Increase students’ health and physical activity; and
  • Create a leadership network of teachers to promote and support quality physical education.
The first cohort of 16 teachers started the program in October 2015 and will finish this May 2016. Metz said they represent schools from about a dozen districts in San Diego County. They include new teachers as well as veterans, and are split evenly among elementary and secondary levels.
The plan is to give the teachers who complete the Academy a two-year certification. “We want to be able to call on them to show other teachers what they’ve been doing,” Metz said. “They will carry the message to other schools and districts, since they’ve really lived with the best practices, not just talked about them.”
Metz said the Academy has “created a great network among teachers. Watching teachers from different districts discuss what’s working has been truly amazing.”

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