Physical education classroom

Teaching a lesson outdoors, or in a large space such as a hall is different from teaching in the classroom and considerations should be taken.

Organising and managing the physical environment

Consider the characteristics which make teaching a lesson outdoors, or in a large space such as a hall, very different from teaching in the classroom. Organisation is one of the key features for the effective teaching of Physical Education through PDHPE.

Use planning and management strategies to allow for cooperative and safe learning through Physical Education.

  • Organise resources prior to the lesson.
  • Be prepared for environmental changes, including weather, equipment or student behaviour.
  • Use a recognisable signal such as a whistle or music to initiate attention, call a halt to movement or coordinate movement. Be consistent with this signal or cue.
  • Establish clear boundaries and use clear, succinct instructions.
  • Use a combination of non-verbal cues and effective voice techniques.
  • Minimise the distractions in the environment.
  • Involve students in the delivery of instructions by asking them for clarification of what has been said.
  • Allow opportunities for students to practise moving individually, as part of a small group and as a whole group.
  • Plan for varied movement patterns and regular movement of equipment.
  • Position yourself so you can see all students and all students can see and hear you. This position will change depending on the group formation.

Managing the social environment

Create a positive environment and communicate in an effective way for successful inclusion of all students in physical education.

Be inclusive by differentiating to provide a range of options to cater for people of all abilities and backgrounds in the most appropriate manner possible. Inclusion encompasses a broad range of options in many different settings. Sometimes this may mean modifying an activity, game or sport to provide a more appropriate version for particular participants.

Space considerations

There are characteristics which make teaching a lesson outdoors, or in a large space such as a hall, very different from teaching in a smaller space. The way you organise your lesson will vary depending on the space available to you.

  • The size of the practice area will be determined by the activity and the instruction required.
  • A smaller area allows for more frequent quality feedback.
  • A larger area may be required for high level movement and larger games or activities.
  • Grids and station activities require students to identify clear boundaries. (For example, markers, domes or painted lines).

Equipment considerations

Sufficient equipment needs to be readily available to allow students to engage in maximum participation and practise individually, with a partner or in small groups.

  • Provide opportunities for students to practise their movement skills using a variety of equipment.
  • Distribute individual equipment easily by spreading around the perimeter of the learning space.
  • Establish a structured routine for collecting and returning equipment to save time.
  • Communicate and consistently reinforce expectations about student responsibilities when working with equipment.

Grouping students

Grouping is an essential component of organisation in Physical Education. Some formations can be used for the whole class while others are more suited to smaller groups of students.

  • Identify the size of groups needed to allow for optimal practice and participation in each activity. Smaller groups allow for more practice time and feedback (self, peer and teacher) for each student.
  • Maintaining the same groups for the majority of the lesson will reduce transition time and maximise participation and on task learning.
  • Combine existing groups where different group sizes are required, rather than re-organising groups entirely.
  • Form groups by:
    • Numbering each student and then combining students with the same number.
    • Allocating a colour to match a bib or braid to be used for the activity.
    • Allocate an animal to imitate (K–2). Students make the noise of their animal and find other students making the same noise.
  • Avoid allocating captains or leaders and allowing team selection. This process can result in situations of power imbalance and positions of status based on those chosen first versus those chosen last.

Smooth transitions

Aim to move groups between stations and activities or between play areas with the least possible disruption to the lesson. A clear routine will guide students when moving in groups.

  • Use whistles and other identifiable signals to move and organise groups. For example, when you hear the whistle form a group of four, or when the music changes move in a clockwise direction to the next station or activity.
  • Explain and demonstrate various routines and signals at the beginning of a lesson or unit.

Skill instruction

It has been stated that in the early years it takes between 240 and 600 minutes of instruction time to become proficient in one fundamental movement skill.

Skill development in all years of schooling takes time and explicit instruction and feedback is crucial to student progression.

Video can be useful to demonstrate skills in the early stages. Recording student performance of a skill allows for students and teachers to review skill components and use feedback to improve these components.

When teaching new skills, it is important to:

  • introduce the main aspects of the entire skill by using cues. In the early years or with new and complex skills introduce one cue at a time. Teaching cues have been developed for each of the fundamental movement skills featured in the resource Get skilled: Get active (PDF 2.58 MB).
  • demonstrate or show a video of the skill to help the students form a mental picture
  • provide opportunities for exploration of the skill itself and then further practice and application. Minimise the delay between the demonstration of the skill and the application of the cue to the skill.
  • use questioning to explore the students' understanding of the skill and its application
  • structure practice sessions that progressively focus on greater refinement of skills in isolation and then in more complex and changing environments, for example, under pressure or in a game situation.
  • provide feedback to students about their performance using the same cues
  • compare the new skill with similar skills with which the students may be familiar and consider aspects of skill transfer, for example, overarm throw and tennis serve
  • provide immediate, explicit and constructive feedback regarding the performance of the skill
  • plan and allow for individual differences in the rate of learning skills
  • conclude lessons by summarising the learning and asking questions about the key elements of the lesson.

Providing feedback

Feedback is the information students receive during or after performance. Feedback supports learning when it gives students immediate information about the correctness of their actions.

Feedback can come from the teacher or from other students. And can be during and immediately following their performance.

Feedback should focus on correcting one aspect of performance at a time, e.g. one aspect of skill performance, movement sequencing, tactical application, cooperative play or manipulation and use of equipment or rules.

Check to see that the learner understands the feedback. Use genuine, positive feedback that encourages the student.

Developing competence and confidence

Physical Education combines the body and physical competence with values based learning and social and emotional growth and skill development. It provides a learning gateway to grow the skills and attitudes required for participation and success in physical activity in the future.

  • Create learning experiences in physical education lessons which are developmentally appropriate to help students acquire the psychomotor skills, cognitive understanding, and social and emotional skills they need to lead a physically active life.
  • Promote practice and develop these skills in practical contexts.
  • Encourage students to adopt roles of leader, participant, official or coach.

Effective pedagogy will support the development of knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes through practical learning experiences.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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