New to PE? Class Management Resources

As a new PE teacher, coming from the classroom, I was not prepared for the number of times I would need to reestablish the ground rules and expectations for PE class. 

It was my first year with them and their first year with me, so I think know it was a big learning curve for all of us. 

Plus, I saw each class for a full week, then wouldn't see them again for three weeks. For the first half of the year, it felt like the movie Groundhog Day with reminding and reteaching the rules and agreements we had made.

Something that I read on The PE Specialist when I felt like I was losing my mind that first year really stuck with me:

Change is more like a crock pot than a microwave.

It was such a shift from my world as a classroom teacher, where I had eight hours a day, five days a week to establish and reinforce a system. Now, with less than an hour, five days a week but only once every three weeks, this quote and his whole blog post was a saving grace. I highly encourage you to read it and bookmark it when you need a reminder that you aren't alone! 

PE Class Rules

While time is of the essence, the old saying still holds true that if you don't take time at the beginning of the year to set the rules for the class, you'll spend the rest of the year paying for it.

I kept my rules simple and in-line with our schoolwide rules. I wanted them to be easily understood by Kinders through fifth graders, and ideally easy to memorize. 

These rules also needed to be general enough to encompass a lot, since our stations and units were constantly changing. 

Our three rules in PE class are:

  1. Respect Yourself
  2. Respect Others
  3. Respect Our Gym
I printed them on brightly colored Astrobrights cardstock and hung them at the front of the gym by our whiteboard so they were easy to see and use as a reminder.

We talked a lot at the start of each week we were together about what these rules meant for the work we were doing. 

For example, respecting yourself meant you were trying your best, you were not being hard on yourself if you messed up, or you were grabbing water and/or a rest when you needed it.

Respecting others came down to respecting me as well as fellow students on your team and on the other team. This was the start or most of our sportsmanship talks that were interwoven into each unit.

Respecting our gym was the most broad way of including the equipment, the room itself, as well as the routine and schedule we had in place. For more on our class schedule, click HERE.

PE Class Consequences

One thing I don't like is making a kiddo sit out for PE class, when in fact movement is exactly what they may need, just channeled differently.

I will go into more detail about this later, but our main class consequences are:

  1. Verbal Warning
  2. Sitting Out on the Bench (and doing some calming and/or refocusing work)
  3. Email home, Stop & Think
I always start with a verbal warning, in private as much as possible, so that they have a chance to self-correct first.

If their behavior continues, I have them come and sit on the bench for the rest of that station and work on some calming and/or refocusing activities. These deserve their own post, but it includes choices like doing some breathwork, grabbing some water, stretching, or even chatting with me if it's safe for the class. 

Lastly, if the behavior continues, I will email home and their classroom teacher (I always like to keep them in the loop since they see the kiddos much longer than I do), a Stop & Think which is a school form, and perhaps a visit to the principal's if it is a safety issue for the others in class. As always, use your best judgement by the time it's reached that level. 

I post these on traffic light colors right next to the rules so kids can see the levels and then it becomes my job to stay consistent with enforcement the whole year.

If rules, consequences and class management are a struggle, I highly recommend Love & Logic. They have a book for teachers as well as many resources on their website.


In the gym, my voice tends to disappear, and I am by no means a quiet speaker!

In a classroom, I could whisper or speak at a normal level, but this past year, in the gym with masks and fans and air purifiers, it felt like I was teaching on the runway at Denver Airport!

A few things that saved me were:

  1. Wireless Microphone
  2. Bluetooth Speaker connected to my iPhone & Spotify
  3. Electronic Whistle
Using the microphone was a voice-saver and a sanity-saver. I was still able to use my regular speaking voice and I could attach the speaker to my hip or I would leave it on the whiteboard shelf and could be heard around the gym. 

The system I used was from Amazon and their customer service was fantastic:

The other important sound issue I ran into was music. I couldn't have background music playing that I couldn't easily control. There was no way I could be heard with all of the competing background noises AND music.

Amazon also carries the bluetooth wireless speaker I used. I would charge it every night and it lasted me all day in classes. Plus, I could bring it outside to the field if the weather was nice and didn't have to worry if the grass was a bit wet. 
I used my iPhone to connect to Spotify and I will be sharing my playlists in a later post. For under $40, it worked very well and I would place it right on the whiteboard shelf on the opposite side from my mic speaker.

Last, I was always a person who would only use a whistle out at recess and rarely clapping unless there was a very large group. 

As a PE teacher, all bets were off in that noisy gym and with masks. But using a traditional whistle was a no-go, since that would mean taking down my mask.

I found out about the Fox 40 Electronic Whistle from other PE teachers and this little workhorse was a great addition this year.
Yes, it is loud, but I just use short bursts when no kids are directly near it, and it was enough to grab their attention and get them to the next station, signal a clean up, or another transition.

There are three whistle types and the simplicity of the design made it easy for me to keep around my wrist or leave it on my clipboard... it was a great substitute for a standard whistle and I will be hanging on to this long after we don't have to wear masks. 

The last attention-getter is for the end of class when kids are coming out of relaxation (we call it our Mindful Moment) and I don't want to blow a loud whistle and ruin the calm that has been established. 
These small windchimes are the perfect solution. Ours sounds light and clear and is a great way to signal transitions at the end of class.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the ways you can manage your PE classes throughout the day, but I hope some of these ideas got your mind thinking about ways you can adapt them to fit your own needs.

What are some of your class rules for PE? Do you have any favorite attention-getters? Share them in the comments below!

Stay well,

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