How can you implement Habits Of Mind in Physical Education with children?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that a Physical Education class could be a great setting to foster student development of habits of mind.  One example could be when teaching the habit of persistence.  In teaching a skill in a PE class to a student, such as dribbling a basketball or hitting a tennis ball or even running a mile with a specific target time in mind, the child is learning the habit of persistence. There is a good chance that they are not able to master the skill on the first try, and thus to be able to teach them the idea that persistence through physical activity is one way in which a habit of mind can be reinforced through a Physical Education setting.  This classroom can reinforce the adage of improvement being only possible when there is a commitment to practice and getting better.

In teaching team sports, one ends up teaching the skill of managing impulsivity.  For example, in basketball, you cannot simply take the ball and run, being impulsive.  One has to follow the rules of ball movement and ball control.  In the larger sense, the team concept and being able to work within a unit in order to find success is a way to manage impulsivity.  When an athlete puts two hands on the ball, they have to figure out how to manage their own impulsive nature and work within the larger team concept.  By reinforcing this skill through the instruction in team sports, the habit of mind in managing impulsivity is seen in the PE educational setting.

The Physical Education class is a great forum to teach the habit of listening with understanding and empathy.  Consider the student who has to accomplish something in front of others.  If they don't do so, a great lesson can be taught to students to embrace someone in the midst of shortcomings. For example, if one strikes out with the bases loaded or is unable to make the closing play in a game, the teacher can emphasize how success only happens when we encourage one another after experiencing a setback.  The reason why we fall down is to learn to pick ourselves back up.  This only happens when we experience the value of community or team, where understanding and empathy is evident.  This becomes another instance where teaching the habit of mind is possible in the Physical Educational class setting.

As formal instruction is becoming more regimented through state standards, national expectation, and external intervention, the Physical Education class setting is a realm where habits of mind can be reinforced with daily practice. Educators in the Physical Education setting can realize their value in the learning experience of their students if they commit themselves to instruction within the Habits of Mind framework.

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