Does Organization Really Matter?

By: Mark Banasiak @MoreThanGym

I team-teach at a school with 600+ students, and we see each child every other day for 40 minutes. This schedule translates into PE classes with 40-75 students (2-3 homerooms). Our classes are back-to-back with no time to switch equipment between classes. As a result, I have come to appreciate (if not CRAVE) organization. This post is about a few areas I focus on when trying to stay organized.

One of the main ways I try to stay organized is through effective time management. With only 40 minutes in a class I want to make each one count. If you look at one of my typical classes, you will see that I follow a fairly set routine. I firmly believe that this routine helps the class flow smoothly by allowing the students to know what to expect. One key aspect of this routine is that it provides for immediate movement and socialization.

Do you have routines in place to help your classes flow smoothly? 

Are you effective at managing your time? If you don’t know, I encourage you to complete a video self-reflection.

Another way I stay organized is by providing the students with time to socialize. When it is time to get equipment, clean up, or really most any transition (except when we line up and exit), I let them talk. I have found that if I tell the students to walk quietly during a transition, I set myself up for a headache. I also waste my energy as I try to monitor this unrealistic expectation.

Instead, I let them talk and move quickly (but safely). Most transitions can happen within a slow backwards 10 count (which takes about 15-20 seconds). The students know that when I get to 1 they should be seated and quiet.

Are there any areas where you are creating headaches and wasting your energy?

Organization also comes through holding the students accountable as they execute various routines. If the students fail to meet the expectations during a given routine, it should be immediately redone. If you do not stop and address the poor transition at that point, it will snowball into a greater problem. It will then become a poor habit that will throw off your overall organization on a daily basis.

Do you stop and practice when students poorly execute a routine in order to prevent it from becoming a daily habit?

In our quest for organization, we sometimes tell the students too much information at one time and then wonder why the organization falls apart.

When introducing or reviewing an activity, I will:

  • Tell the students the activity of the day
  • Explain the transition and how they need to be organized
  • Let the students transition
  • Review/demonstrate the activity
  • Let the students get the necessary equipment and get started
  • NOTE: If the activity requires a rotation or taking turns, I do not explain the rotation until it is time for the first one to occur.

If I try to tell the students all of the above information before they ever transition, something will then be forgotten. I will end up wasting time as I work to straighten everything out.

Do you tell the students too much information at one time?

One major component of organization is planning for transitions. For instance, if I want to have 40 kindergarten students sitting in pairs, I may place 20 cones on the floor and direct them to sit with a partner at a cone. Whereas, if I randomly put out too few, too many, or no cones at all the students have trouble. I end up wasting time helping them adjust.

Therefore, I try to think through the following questions prior to each lesson:

  • How will the students be organized during the instruction, demonstration, and/or activities?
  • How many lines/areas will be needed?
  • If lines are used, how many students will there be per line/area?
  • How will the transitions be managed?
  • What equipment will be needed?
  • Where should it be placed?

How one organizes their equipment also makes a difference. Since each class starts with 12-15 minutes of fitness activities, I rarely have equipment on the main floor when the students enter.   Each morning, my colleague and I organize what is needed for the day and set it along the walls for quick access.

When distributing playground balls, I can waste a lot of time and create a transitional train wreck if I let 40 students go to one bin. The younger students also cannot reach to the bottom so I have to stand there and hand the balls out.

pgb-crate

To ease congestion and to free myself up to better monitor the transition, I like to place them into multiple tubs.

pgb-tubs

I then spread them out along the wall. This allows the students to quickly get their own equipment and directs them to multiple areas of balls versus one single bin.

pgb-tubs-wall

I follow this same ideology when distributing most any equipment. Spread it out to make it easier to access!

If the students are getting multiple pieces of equipment, I may ask the boys to get a paddle and then a ball while the girls go get a ball and then a paddle. If they are organized into pairs/groups, I may ask one student to get pieces of equipment for their partner/group.

Sometimes, I set up just enough equipment to get the activity started and then finish setting the equipment up as they begin to participate.

When using tennis rackets, hula hoops, or scooters, the students from the previous class just spread them out along the wall. As a result, the equipment is ready for quick access (Note: Scooters are always placed upside down/wheels up).

When collecting or distributing equipment, I encourage you to plan out the transitions!!!! Most teachers think about the activity. That is important; however, planning for the transitions is just as important. In fact, I have my student teachers actually write their transition plans out.

Do you plan your transitions?

Do you plan how your equipment is distributed?

Part of our annual evaluation requires the educator to submit a detailed lesson plan. The administrator then comes to observe that lesson to see how the lesson transpires. This particular evaluation focuses on ones ability to plan. When I submit this plan, I write it SUPER detailed in order to allow my administrator to see all of the planning that goes into orchestrating a quality PE class with 45+ students.

I want them to see inside my head. I want them to see the organization and how I plan for not only the instruction but also the transitions and assessments. This is not a dog and pony show. This is how I teach. I want to share this with you so you can also see inside my head.

i-teach-more-than-gym-organization-matters-lp

My daily plans are not this detailed on paper; however, they are this detailed in my head. I use the pre-instruction reflection process that I detailed back in February to help me stay organized.

As you can probably see by now, organization definitely matters to me.

Does organization matter to you?

 

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