PE Kudos! Forging connections with families

At University School of Nashville, where I was an administrator and teacher for 23 years, the physical education teachers have recently been trying a new way of engaging students’ parents in the day-to-day life of the school. They call it “PE Kudos.” Here’s how it works:

Earlier this year, the physical education teachers set a goal: to send home some positive bit of news about each lower school child’s PE experience at least once during the year. They posted a chart in the PE office with each child’s name and space for each teacher to indicate when he or she had sent a “PE Kudo”a short message describing a specific positive the teacher noticed about the child that day. For instance:

Hello _________!

Today in PE, we continued our climbing unit with the girls in Megan’s class.  Megan has shown much enthusiasm with climbing this week and is always eager to try the next thing.  I was especially impressed with the perseverance Megan showed today as she attempted to get her “RockStar” status. To be a RockStar, the climber must completely scale the traverse climbing wall in the gym without touching the ground (16 panels in all!).  Although class was over and her classmates were packing up and eager to get to lunch, Megan stayed on the wall until she had made it all the way across!

Best regards,

Coach _____, PE Department

So far this year, this group of teachers have sent over 100 PE Kudos, and they’ve realized that as well as opening lines of communication with families as they’d hoped, this new practice is doing more:

  • PE Kudos provide a window for parents to learn more about what goes on in physical education class.
  • The practice demonstrates a schoolwide value to parents: teachers know  each individual child.
  • PE Kudos communications have been a springboard for parents and children to start talking more generally about what’s happening at school.
  • And last but not least, sending out PE Kudos has helped the PE teachers hone their skills in noticing positives, including skills, attitudes, and behaviorsand given them opportunities to practice using positive, specific language when communicating with families.

Babs Freeman-Loftis is a Responsive Classroom consultant and coauthor of Responsive School Discipline. She was assistant head of the lower school at the University School of Nashville for nine years.

Tags: Family Connections, Special Areas