Teaching physical education used to be viewed as a position that required no more than rolling out the balls and watching kids play, but much has changed in the world of physical education instruction. P.E. classes are required at both junior high and high schools, and P.E. teachers are no longer just the overseers of an organised physical activity class. They are active participants in helping students create life skills that promote fitness, teamwork and participation in sports.
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Sports and Teamwork
P.E. teachers teach from four to six class periods of gym each day and must have a well-rounded understanding of multiple sports and the desire and ability to share them with students. The coursework involves instruction about various sports and how they are played. Teachers help students learn how to perform the basic skills for games like basketball, softball, football, volleyball, soccer, tennis, swimming and, increasingly, other sports like pickle ball and track and field. The instruction involves a great deal of on-field training, practice and game play as well as some classroom work to learn game rules. Another area that may be involved in the P.E. class work is dance instruction, which requires an additional level of knowledge.
Health and Fitness
Health and fitness is becoming an increasingly important part of the physical education curriculum. Many P.E. teachers also teach health classes that focus on proper health habits in terms of medical care, nutrition, exercise and sleep habits, including teaching daily exercises of running, walking and weight training to encourage students to develop and set healthy exercise goals while still in their youth.
Coaching After-school Sports
Many P.E. teachers have the added responsibilities of coaching after-school sports. After spending the day teaching students and preparing lesson plans, these teachers head out to the fields and courts to coach football, soccer, baseball and other school sports teams. Many coaches begin as P.E. teachers because they usually come from an athletic background. Some coach multiple sports each school year.
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