SUNY Cortland – Preparing The Next Generation of PE Teachers

Suny Cortland Gym

SUNY Cortland’s Physical Education Department is one of the nation’s best and most highly regarded teacher education programs. With over 1,000 students enrolled as Physical Education majors, the school has always been a leader in preparing the next generation of PE teachers. SUNY Cortland’s mission statement says it all, 


Our mission is to prepare physical educators who will make a difference in their communities and the lives of their students.”


And as education and best practices evolve, so does SUNY Cortland. As more K-12 schools look to transform physical education with fitness-focused curriculum and technology, SUNY Cortland is adopting a new teaching tool to reflect the changing educational landscape. The goal is to equip the next generation of PE teachers with the most cutting-edge resources, best practices, and skills. Here is how they are doing it.  


SUNY Cortland Adopts PLT4M 

SUNY Cortland structures its Physical Education teacher program to transform students into teachers. While the program offers a wide range of classes and opportunities to develop skills and knowledge, Helene Schmid, CSCS, CPT, and an experienced lecturer at SUNY Cortland, describes a common trajectory for the major, 


“First, we want students to develop skills to lead healthy lives themselves. From there, they begin to build practical teaching skills in a wide range of topics and units. Finally, they can take these experiences and apply them as student teachers before graduating and starting their careers in education.” 


To support and enhance every stage of this journey, SUNY Cortland has adopted PLT4M. Helene says that PLT4M will play an integral role in students’ time throughout the SUNY Cortland physical education program, 


“PLT4M is a trusted resource for K-12 schools’ physical education departments all across the country. It only makes sense to have future PE teachers experience and experiment with the wide range of curriculum and technology resources that PLT4M offers.” 

SUNY Cortland Weight Room
Inside the SUNY Cortland weight room, students will experience and explore PLT4M.

Step 1: Heath Related Fitness 


To start, every student at SUNY Cortland will have access to PLT4M when taking the mandatory “Health Related Fitness” course. This required course is typically taken by students early in the program and introduces them to nutrition and the five components of fitness: 


5 Components of Fitness: 


  1. Cardiovascular Endurance 
  2. Muscular Strength
  3. Muscular Endurance 
  4. Flexibility
  5. Body Fat Composition 


Each topic is broken down into a three-week unit, and Helene says that PLT4M will fit into each aspect of the course, 


“In our health-related fitness class, we want to ensure all physical education students know the basics of fitness and health. Students will workout and explore PLT4M from a student perspective. This offers a great first step for them to transition to a teacher perspective in future courses.” 

Students use the PLT4M app during a fitness lesson in PE class.
SUNY Cortland students will have access to a wide range of workouts, lesson plans, and data via the PLT4M app.

Step 2: Peer Teaching 


After students are exposed to the basics of fitness and PLT4M, they can start going in various directions to continue growing as teachers. At this stage, SUNY Cortland focuses on different types of peer teaching opportunities throughout the advanced courses. 


First, students start by leading a 10-minute activity or lesson. Over time, students begin teaching longer lessons of 20-30 minutes. Finally, students lead an entire class period or lesson. 


While the topics or lessons will vary based on student interests and goals, Helene says that PLT4M will be a go-to resource, 


“SUNY Cortland is big on technology. And many students typically don’t know where to start when it comes to incorporating technology into PE lessons. Now, they have PLT4M to pull from a wide range of opportunities to embed technology and resources into their lessons.” 


PLT4M will be a valuable tool as SUNY Cortland students learn lesson planning and delivery skills. As a result, students will be ready and equipped for the final stage of the physical education teacher education program. 

Bonus Content: Physical Education teachers have access to a wide-range of lesson plans and materials with PLT4M. Here is an example of a brief instructional video from PLT4M’s pickleball series. 

Step 3: Student Teaching 


Student teaching is the final step in the physical education program at Suny Cortland. Over 16 weeks, students split their time between teaching at an elementary school and a secondary school. 


With PLT4M, Helene hopes that more students can successfully incorporate technology within their student teaching, 


“Over the years, we have gotten feedback from schools, supervisors, and the state that our student-teachers can continue to evolve and enhance how they integrate technology. With PLT4M, they will be well trained and equipped to bring technology to their student-teaching schools.” 


While this final step will likely take a few years to really take shape, Helene is hopeful for the long-term opportunity that PLT4M presents, 


“Once we start to roll out PLT4M in the early courses, the final stage of student teaching will take shape and enhance our student-teaching that eventually translates to full-time jobs and careers.” 

There are all different types of technology that schools can utilize in physical education.
With PLT4M, PE teachers can incorporate technology with lesson plans, data and progress monitoring, and more!

Key Takeaways on SUNY Cortland & PLT4M’s Partnership 


Now more than ever, physical education teachers play a crucial role in the overall development of students’ physical, mental, and emotional health. Therefore, we must recognize the importance of quality and comprehensive physical education teacher-education programs like SUNY Cortland’s.  


Every future PE teacher at SUNY Cortland will experience and explore PLT4M throughout the teacher education program. The long-term goal is to empower and prepare the next generation of PE teachers with real-world tools and resources they can eventually use in their own classrooms. 


As SUNY Cortland continues to grow and evolve its program, PLT4M will play a vital role in preparing future teachers for an ever-changing and dynamic educational environment. 

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