Reaching out to Rebellious PE Students


Wouldn’t it be nice if every PE class went perfectly every time? Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. There are always things that threaten to derail your best-laid lesson plans: adverse weather, lack of equipment, or rebellious students.

Since you can’t control the storm clouds, and you probably can’t do much about your PE budget, you can at least figure out creative ways to reach out to a student who just can’t get his or her head into your class, no matter how fun or engaging your activities are.

Here are a few suggestions to reach out to even the most uninterested student, which can not only preserve the efficiency of your class, but help that student become a more attentive learner.

What’s Eating Your Student?

Often, the problems your student is experiencing may not have anything to do with you or your class. Problems at home, problems in other classrooms, and even problems with other students can all have an affect on a child, especially if they already suffer from confidence or performance issues.

Try talking to other teachers, counselors and administrators to find out what kind of dynamic relationships your student has with other students. Perhaps your student is afraid of bullying, as students under this kind of stress can act abnormally from intimidation or fear.

If the student has shown a rebellious streak throughout other classes, perhaps there is a deeper problem at work than social fear. Your administrators might have some guidance about the student’s home life. Or, you might be the one to clue your counselors into problems that the student could benefit from discussing with a professional.

Whatever you do, always consult your administrators on matters that you are unsure how to handle.

What’s Your Student Eating?

Don’t rule out legitimate medical reasons for the student’s rebellion, either. Some students with diagnosed (or undiagnosed) illnesses who aren’t getting enough nutrition in their diet could suffer from grumpy and cranky behavior.

However, this problem can be improved with a comprehensive coordinated school health program. Such a program seeks to change the environment that students are brought up in, including their nutritional choices, level of activity, and inclusion of physical fitness into everyday academic studies. Best of all, it’s backed by science. And it’s proven to work.

By removing sugary snacks from vending machines, offering whole grains and locally-grown vegetables (even better from the school’s own vegetable garden), and encouraging physical activity in a regular classroom setting, you create a well-rounded approach to PE that can improve all facets of your students’ lives.

With a program like this, you won’t only raise the performance scores of your stragglers or rebellious kids, your entire student body will show signs of performing better in PE class and in other academic areas as well.


Reach Out

Have you tried talking to your student? It’s easy to write off an unruly student and send them to the back of your mind so you can focus on the more engaged kids who show that they want to learn.

But that could be a big mistake.

Instead of punishing a student for having problems, you should attempt to engage that student as often as possible. There are endless resources available that can help you find an activity your student enjoys, and from there you can begin the process of building their confidence.

If you use a lesson plan that incorporates a variety of skills and activities, the chances will be better that each of your students will find success with at least a fraction of the activity. Use those little moments of success to instill the “I can do it!” feelings that all children need to stay engaged and active.

Lesson plans should take advantage of the opportunity to teach teamwork to younger students, which could also help bring your shy student back into the fold. When he’s encouraged in a positive manner by his peers, he’s more likely to enjoy the task at hand and even excel.

Never leave a single student behind. Sometimes all it takes is a little extra effort to find out why your student is struggling to help him or her get back on track.

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