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PE Expectations: Highlighting 10 Strategic Physical Education Expectations for Effective Teaching

As a physical education teacher, setting clear expectations for what you want your students to accomplish and how you want them to act is an essential component of a highly successful PE program. It’s important to be clear, concise, and consistent with your expectations. When students are expected to come prepared, listen and follow directions, respect others, show good sportsmanship, and respect the equipment, they are more likely to meet those expectations.

10 Physical Education Expectations That Will Benefit Your Students

When it comes to teaching physical education, I believe expectations are key. Some educators advocate for using rules, while others maintain that expectations work better when they’re based on goals. So which is the right approach? This article will delve into 10 critical expectations all physical education teachers should have for and with their students during their class lessons.

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Expectations vs Rules

When I first started my teaching career more than 30 years ago, one of the ways physical education professionals attempted to avoid anticipated discipline difficulties was by posting or verbalizing a comprehensive list of rules for their PE lessons. They often phrased and defined what teachers didn't want their students to do. Don't chew gum...don't talk when the teacher is talking...don't put your hands on others, etc.

I started my career using that approach but shifted away after a few years to using clear, relatable expectations vs using rules to help incorporate positive language in my classes. This approach let my students know what I wanted them to do and how I wanted them to act. A powerful tool for maintaining a safe, positive, and nurturing learning environment is to consistently let students know what you expect of them before, during, and after class.

PE- Keep it Positive

Research shows that using expectations in physical education is more effective than using rules. Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case.


Why Should a PE Teacher Develop Clear Expectations for their Students?

When we use rules in physical education, we are often forced to spend more time managing student behavior instead of teaching. On the other hand, when we set clear expectations, students know what is expected of them and are more likely to meet those expectations. In addition, research has shown that using rules can lead to increased misbehavior. This is because rules often focus on what students should not do, rather than what they should do.

It is also important to note that when we use expectations in physical education, we are teaching our students how to be successful in other areas of their lives. We are helping them to develop essential skills such as self-regulation, goal setting, and problem-solving. These are skills that will benefit them not only in physical education but also in other areas of their lives. Setting these expectations during the first week is crucial for establishing a positive learning environment.

Let's have a look at ten expectations for a physical education class that cover a range of regulations with straightforward, applicable phrases that students can easily follow.

Physical Education Expectations Poster


10 Teacher Expectations for Physical Education Students

1) Be prepared to learn

Students should come to PE class prepared with a desire to learn something new. Being class prepared means having the appropriate attire and mindset, ready to engage in activities with good sportsmanship and respect for others and equipment. It might be the acquisition of a new skill or movement, or it might be the learning of a new idea or game principle. This is a simple expectation that sets the tone for the rest of the class. If at all possible, they should have the appropriate clothing and shoes for class so that they can perform at their best.

This expectation implies that a physical education teacher should use new and interesting lesson plans rather than replaying the same game or activity every class period. Not only does being prepared help students learn in PE class, but it also teaches them to be prepared for other aspects of their lives. This is the case at all levels; high, middle, and elementary school.


2) Have fun

Physical education should be a time for students to let loose, be active, and enjoy themselves. This does not mean that every minute of class needs to be filled with laughter and games, but it does mean that students should feel like they can relax and have fun while they are learning.

When students are having fun, they are more likely to be engaged in the lesson and retain the information that they are learning. This expectation also goes hand-in-hand with the first one; if students are prepared for class and know what to expect, they are more likely to have fun.


3) Try your best

Physical education classes at school generally include a wide range of activities, skill building, and creative movement scenarios. Students arrive to class with varying levels of ability and expertise. A physical education teacher should anticipate that his or her students will attempt all of the activities and movement experiences, putting forth their best effort and attitude.

Fulfilling this expectation can be challenging because some students are more inclined to excel at physical activities than others. It's important to keep in mind that everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses, but also remember that everybody is capable of putting forth their best effort. Some students might need a little extra encouragement to try their best, and that is okay. It is the teacher's job to find ways to motivate each student so that they can reach their full potential.


4) Be polite and respectful

Students need to be polite and respectful during a physical education class for several reasons. First, it's important to remember that everyone is there to learn and improve their skill and fitness levels. Second, being rude and disruptive can interfere with the learning process for everyone in the class. Third, it's simply more pleasant for everyone involved if everyone is behaving respectfully towards one another. Finally, it's important to show respect for the teacher and classmates so that they will be more likely to respect you in return.

Be polite and respectful in PE Class


5) Help others and cooperate

A typical physical education class has many students with diverse backgrounds moving their bodies using various forms of equipment, sometimes in tight spaces. To ensure that everyone has a positive experience, students must be expected to help and cooperate. This might mean lending a hand when someone is having trouble with an activity, or it might mean being understanding if someone accidentally bumps into you.

In addition to helping their classmates, students should also be willing to cooperate with the teacher's instructions and be willing to follow directions. This might involve working with a partner or group, following directions, or taking turns. If everyone cooperates, the class will run much smoother and everyone will be able to learn and have fun.


6) Attempt new things

A quality physical education program should expose students to a wide variety of movement experiences over a semester or year. Trying new activities should be encouraged throughout the school year. This might mean trying a new sport, learning a new game, or simply trying a different way to move your body.

Trying new things can be scary, but it is also exciting and fun. Students need to remember that they will not be good at everything that they try, but that's okay. The goal is to have fun and learn something new, not to be perfect. If students can keep an open mind and a positive attitude, they will be more likely to enjoy trying new things.


7) Demonstrate great sportsmanship

It's easy to get caught up in the heat of the game or activity and forget about good sportsmanship. But showing good sportsmanship is an important part of a physical education class for every student. Good sportsmanship includes being a good sport whether you win or lose, being a good role model for other students, and treating your classmates and the PE teacher with respect.

Showing good sportsmanship can help create a positive environment in class, make everyone feel more comfortable, and make the class more fun for everyone. This is a crucial expectation that a teacher must keep in mind and review with their students regularly.


8) Pay attention to instruction

Paying attention in class can be difficult for some students. However, there are good reasons why students should make an effort to pay attention in physical education classes. First, the teacher is usually providing important instructions that will help students be successful in the activity. Second, paying attention can help prevent injuries. Third, paying attention to what the other students are doing can provide good models to follow. Finally, paying attention shows respect for the teacher and classmates.

Pay attention to instruction in physical education class


9) Move safely and in control

Any physical education teacher will tell you that one of the most important things for students to learn is how to move safely and in control. In classes with many students, it's especially important to be careful when running and jumping to avoid injury. There are several ways that students can learn to move safely and in control. First, they need to be aware of their bodies and how they move through space. Second, they need to be aware of the other people around them and how their movements can affect others. Finally, they need to be able to listen to and follow instructions from their teacher. By following these tips, students will be able to move safely and in control in any physical education class.


10) Leave with a smile

It is important that students enjoy and benefit from their PE class experiences. We as physical educators should expect that our students feel a sense of satisfaction that they learned something new or worked on improving their fitness level. A good way to end class on a positive note is to have students reflect on their experience and choose one thing that they accomplished or enjoyed during class. This can be done verbally, in writing, or through discussion with a partner. It's also important for the teacher to take a few minutes at the end of class to thank the students for their effort and participation. By taking these steps, we can ensure that our students leave class with a smile on their faces and a positive attitude toward physical activity.

Leave PE with a smile


Final Thoughts

Physical education provides an important opportunity for students to learn new skills, improve their fitness level, and have fun. Teachers will be able to better hold students accountable and improve the overall quality of the class if they adhere to the expectations outlined in this article. By demonstrating good sportsmanship, paying attention in class, moving safely and in control, trying new things, and leaving with a smile on their faces, students can maximize their learning experiences in physical education.

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any other expectations you incorporate into your PE classes, please let us know in the comments section.


Need a way to display your PE expectations?

Do you need a practical way to share what you want from your students all in one glance?

If so, Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered!

PE Expectations Freebie

Fill out the form below to download a Physical Education Expectations visual that you can use to reference when working with your students. The PE Poster: Physical Education Expectations (in 5 color schemes) serves as a practical instructional graphic to use to highlight 10 important outcomes that we as teachers expect from our students during our daily PE classes. The statements are brief, yet POWERFUL!

This freebie set will be sure to enhance your PE program for years!


If you're searching for a way to enhance your PE program, PE Stations: Triple Pack Bundle- 132 Movement, Skill, and Sports Zones is the perfect supplement. The PE stations bundle is a collection of three of Cap'n Pete's physical education station zone resources and includes the following sets: 1. PE Fitness Stations - 44 Maximum Movement Zones, 2. PE Sport Stations - 44 Skill Sharpening Zones, and 3. PE Stations Kids Love - 44 Frolicking Fun Zones

Cap'n Pete's PE Stations: Triple Pack Bundle- 132 Movement, Skill, and Sports Zones

You can download them from either of the following platforms: Cap'n Pete's Power PE Website or Teachers Pay Teachers- Cap'n Pete's TPT Store

The cards come with state-of-the-art graphics and brief instructions, as well as a fitness component, motor skill, or physical education concept addressed during the activity.



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