After teaching and coaching for over 37 years, Steve Wagner has learned he does not have all the answers. And while his years of experience as a PE teacher, football coach, and basketball coach have taught him a lot, he is still open to student feedback.
Through student feedback in PE, Steve has continued to shape and develop the physical education offering at Riley County High School in Kansas. Over the last few years, one of the most significant changes has been students’ ability to select from various fitness choices during class.
A Closer Look At Riley County High School
Riley County High School has undergone some major changes over the last few years.
First, they completely overhauled their weight room and fitness center. Thanks to a Riley County alumnus and NFL player, Jordy Nelson, the school received a tremendous equipment donation.
On top of the physical changes, Riley County also started using PLT4M. After looking at the online program, Steve saw this curriculum and technology as an opportunity to continue moving in the right direction for Riley County. Steve explained the mission,
“We were so excited about our new space. And we wanted it to feel like a place for everyone. We wanted a place where our athletes could work to take their talents to the next level. But, we also wanted an inclusive environment where all students felt like they could improve their fitness level.”
Now teachers like Steve, and fellow colleagues Erik Willimon and Ian Peters are excited about what is to come for the physical education and strength and conditioning programs at the school .
What Student Choice Looks Like at Riley County
After getting started with PLT4M, Steve first took the program guide and printed and displayed all the different program options available to the students. Steve wanted the students to see the choices they had past just weightlifting.
Through PLT4M’s app, students could then explore and access the workouts or lessons that made the most sense for them.
Choice For Student-Athletes
Because Riley County has a large population of student-athletes, many students choose from the athletic development options within PLT4M. Steve describes how these students also benefit from choice,
“There are all sorts of different games and competitions throughout the week and semester for student-athletes. So with PLT4M, students can pick when to lift, stretch, or recover, based on their unique schedule.”
Choice For All Students
And because not every student in PE is an athlete, Steve emphasizes the other choices available. While every student is still expected to give the basics of strength and conditioning a try, there are also other options within PLT4M that Steve now has taken advantage of for the first time,
“We never did yoga or dance before PLT4M, and now those are some of our favorites. We even created a space where we have a blow-up projector set up so students can do these different programs. It helps for students to know they don’t have to lift every class.”
Supporting Student Choice In PE With Technology
Student choice is only possible with the right supplemental resources. Without them, teachers can feel like choice leads to chaos.
Before PLT4M, allowing students to do different workouts in class was not an option. Because Steve was the only teacher in the room, he couldn’t have students doing twenty different exercises or movements without it leading to disorder.
But now, Steve encourages students to watch and review the instructional videos within all of PLT4M’s workouts and lessons. In doing so, he feels like he is no longer the only teacher in the room,
“We tell the kids to watch and listen. It has improved form, technique, and safety. We feel like we have several assistant coaches/teachers in the room at all times.”
By tapping into the instructional resources available, student choice for different workout programs and lessons is possible.
PLT4M has over 1,500 instructional videos. Check out a sample tip video here!
Student Feedback In PE At Riley County
With new technology and programs added to the classes, Steve wanted to make sure he checked in with students. Steve asked the students,
“What Do You Like About PLT4M?”
Students’ answers and responses included:
- Wide variety of workout choices
- Going at your own pace during workouts
- Having the freedom to choose the type of workout you want to do
- Learning new movements, lifts, exercises
- Videos on technique – can watch over and over again if needed
Steve was optimistic about the feedback and excited by the signs of early change,
“Some of the things we were changing, I was not sure about as a teacher. I didn’t know if it was going to work. But feedback from the students helped solidify that what we had done with PLT4M and new programs was the right choice.”
Continuing To Grow From Student Feedback in PE
While positive feedback is great, one of the main reasons Steve looks for student feedback in PE is to learn what the class could be doing differently.
Through some of the responses from students, Steve is planning to continue tweaking his approach to using PLT4M in class,
“We know we are just scratching the surface. And there are some small things we can adjust so that the experience is better and easier for students.”
One place Steve hopes to take better advantage of is students more consistently logging and tracking progress in the app. In doing so, Riley County can start taking even more advantage of its technology within PE.
Key Takeaways On Student Feedback In PE and Choice
Over his 37 years of teaching and coaching, Steve Wagner has seen countless students come through the school and graduate. And while students come and go, and a lot has changed, the feedback that stands out to Steve the most is the power of physical education.
When he asked his students what they liked most about the class, he got answers that will surely inspire physical education teachers and educators everywhere,
- Getting a good workout in and feeling good about myself
- Having a class where I am active and not sitting at a desk
- Improving myself
- Getting stronger
- Having a break from academics and doing what I enjoy
- The environment of the class
Students have always benefited from physical education in ways that we cannot measure. Physical education becomes a place where students grow and develop as individuals by empowering students with choices and options.
Student feedback in PE can help us better understand the best way of accomplishing our goal of empowering students. Don’t be afraid to ask!