“While I wasn’t really looking for a change, change was probably the biggest thing that I needed and now I have the benefit of collaborating with my department every single day,” CHS physical education and health teacher Sarah Gietschier-Hartman said.
Gietschier-Hartman transitioned to the high school this year after teaching physical education at Wydown Middle School for seven years. She is dedicated to changing the physical education culture and curriculum at the high school and in the rest of the district.
This summer, Gietschier-Hartman met with colleagues Steve Hutson and Dave Brechin to make changes to the physical education curriculum. She also spoke with Wydown Middle School health teachers Jill Warner and Rachel Gasawski to update the health curriculum.
“We literally started from scratch; we were rebuilding everything and that process was really smooth,” Gietschier-Hartman said. “It is really easy to work with Hutson and Brechin.”
Hutson, Brechin and Gietschier-Hartman are all recent additions to the high school staff, and despite their unfamiliarity with the high school, they quickly established an effective group dynmic.
One of the teachers’ main goals is to ensure that the topics covered in middle school and high school flow naturally.
“We want to make sure that the topics that are taught in class are covered at the appropriate time in the appropriate order and that they makes sense based on what students learned at Wydown,” Gietschier-Hartman said.
The teachers also hope to instill a love for physical education in their students as well as general knowledge about staying healthy.
“Hopefully, students take physical education through senior year. I want them to graduate with this amazing skill set so that they can navigate a gym when they are in college,” Gietschier-Hartman said.
After consulting other experts regarding the role of gender in physical education, she decided to implement a new philosophy in her classes.
“The research shows that one thing that students dislike about PE is being forced to change for class because of a locker room environment that they might not be comfortable with,” Gietschier-Hartman said. “I stopped requiring students to change their clothes and have gotten amazing feedback.”
Gietschier-Hartman says that the new policy increases activity time and creates more equity. Students who do not have the resources to regularly wash their PE clothing no longer have that burden.
We literally started from scratch; we were rebuilding everything and that process was really smooth. It is easy to work with Hutson and Brechin.”
— Sarah Gietschier-Hartman
Gietschier-Hartman and her colleagues also changed how students are assessed. They eliminated participation points and found new ways to evaluate their students’ growth.
“Just like any other subject area, we want to assess our students about what they know, what they understand, and what they can do in relation to outcomes and standards that we are required to teach,” Gietschier-Hartman said.
Gietschier-Hartman feels that the changes to health and physical education have had a positive effect on students.
We surveyed students this semester and found that they are enjoying their classes and valuing physical activity,” Gietschier-Hartman said. “Their mindset has changed for the better.”