PE teachers throughout Mitchell (S.D.) School District 17-2 also focus on the social and emotional well-being of their students.
Using an assessment created by Mitchell Middle School health and PE teacher Cheryl Miller, teachers track students’ behaviors and social skills as go through their class session. After each class, teachers enter the information into their IHT Spirit System.
“Every single class period, every day,” Miller said. “It takes me two minutes. We created a 10-point scale. The first column in the assessment is a scale from 1-10. Those students with no issues get scored with a 10.”
“It’s very nice to able, with the click of a mouse, to pull up the report and give the parent a true picture of what’s going on in class,” Miller said.
Miller, a longtime health and PE teacher, has always incorporated social and emotional wellness into her classes. In the course of more than 20 years of teaching, observing and grading students, she sees the direct impact social and emotional skills have on a student’s academic performance.
“It’s interesting that if I pull up a student’s social and emotional report and I see a student who is struggling in that area, 9 times out of 10, they are struggling academically in my classroom,” Miller said. “It’s very easy to see the connection between the two.”
Before industry leaders began focusing on social-emotional learning, Miller taught behavior skills under a different name.
“We called it personal and social responsibility, which was Standard 5 of the national standards at that time,” she said. “SHAPE America changed the standard to read slightly different and changed it to Standard 4:
- “The physically literate individual exhibits personal and social behavior that respects self and others.”
While researching how she’d continue teaching those skills under the new standards and guidelines, Miller uncovered a wealth of information from Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
“Their standards, the 5 social and emotional competencies they identify, basically make up Standard 4,” Miller said. “The 5 things they talk about are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.”
And that’s what Miller focuses on. During each PE class, her students wear the IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitor. The ZONE records each student’s heart rate throughout the session. Following each session, that data transfers from the monitor into the Spirit System, and students see and receive a report detailing their performance. The report includes:
- A graph showing heart rate throughout the session
- Total minutes spent exercising in each heart rate zone
- Blue for resting
- Yellow for moderate
- Red for vigorous
- Total minutes spent exercising in relation to goal
Between the exercise data provided by ZONE monitors and the social-emotional data she records, she has all of the documentation necessary to both show a relationship between fitness and behavior and have key conversations with both students and parents. The ultimate goal, she says, is to teach social-emotional skills earlier in a student’s career.
“I know the relationship is there,” Miller said. “You can look at a student’s progress in classes and if he’s struggling, you can look at his SEL information and see he’s struggling with all of those skills as well. I want to correlate SEL to as many things as I can. I am hoping that we can create some kind of connection with counselors or for an intervention. If we can start catching at a younger age, we can make a big difference before they graduate.”