Creating A Positive #PhysEd Atmosphere with Lift

Yesterday’s #pechat on Positive Behaviour Management in #PhysEd reminded me just how important creating a positive atmosphere in our gym can be for promoting performance, learning, and responsibility in PE.

One book on my #PhysEd bookshelf that I’ve gone back to time and time again is “Positive Behavior Management in Physical Activity Settings-2nd Edition” by Barry W. Lavay, Ron French, and Hester L. Henderson.

This book is worth it!

In one of the early chapters of the book, the authors outline some strategies that can help you create a positive atmosphere in your gym. No matter the strategy you decide to use, consistency is key, and consistency comes from developing positive habits.

In comes Lift, an app that I’ve recently fallen in love with.

Lift is an app that helps you develop habits through positive reinforcement. Once you’ve downloaded the free app and created an account, you can then add habits that you would like to develop (e.g. Inbox Zero). Whenever you’ve completed the action for a habit (e.g. if you took action on all the items in your inbox), you can launch Lift and “check in” to that habit. Lift will keep track of your checkins and keep you posted on your progress.
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On top of that, Lift will connect you with others who are tracking the same habit and allow you to receive props from those users. It all makes tracking/developing habits fun and positive (for more information on how it all works, check out the Lift tutorial page)

So, now that you know Lift, here are some positive behaviour management habits from the book that I’ll be tracking with the app (I hope you join me!)

1. Catch Them Being Good

Don’t forget to bring attention to your students when they’re being responsible. When kids consistently demonstrate challenging behaviours (which is a nice way of saying they’re driving you crazy), its easy to forget the potential reasons behind why they are acting that way. For some kids (not all of them), their behaviour might just be a cry for attention. You can help your students stay focused on positive behaviours by making sure they get attention when they’re being good, not only when they act badly.

Try it out in your gym. Try paying attention to when your student are being good and take the time to highlight their positive behaviour. See if you can get a 5 day streak going on Lift.

2. Keep Your Cool

Set an example in your gym. Self-control is a big part of positive behaviour in physical activity settings, and you need to be a model for that. Avoid losing your cool by giving yourself some time (anywhere between 30 to 60 seconds) to calm down before dealing with a disruptive student. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act right away when you see a student being disruptive. When disruptive behaviour occurs, send the student aside immediately and give yourself a second to gather information about what happened. Once you feel calm and ready to deal with the student (don’t wait too long or they might not associate the consequence to their behaviour), go explain the rule they broke and the consequence for having done so in straightforward fashion. The authors of Positive Behavior Management in Physical Activity Settings-2nd Edition also suggest to maintain direct eye contact with the student during this discussion (this will help convey a positive, assertive message).

Keeping your cool is not always easy as a teacher, but it’s important that you remain a model for self-control in your class. Make it a habit by checking in on Lift next time you feel like you were able to hold it together in a tough situation. I know how hard it can be, and I’ll be sure to give you props when you do.

3. Focus On The Behaviour

As much as it can be challenging to believe at times, all students are inherently good. Some just develop bad behaviours over time. Try to remember that when dealing with challenging students by keeping the focus of your discussion on the behaviour, not the student. Instead of reacting to a student (remember, keep your cool!) who is talking over you during instruction with “You’re very rude!”, keep the focus on the behaviour by saying: “Talking during the teacher’s instructions is rude, and I would appreciate it if you could stop doing just that”. Don’t make your students feel like they are bad people, but do help them realize when they are demonstrating bad behaviour.

So next time you’re dealing with a disruptive student, see if you can keep the focus of the discussion on the student’s behaviour rather than the student’s character. Explain how you did so by commenting on your Lift checkin.

Behaviour management in Physical Education can be extremely draining. Hopefully, adding these three habits to your teaching repertoire might help make behaviour management a more positive experience for you in your gym.

I’m really looking forward to connecting with teachers on Lift. Supporting each other’s development of good behaviour management habits through positive reinforcement seems like a great way to put the power of the #physed community to use.

If you’d like to learn more about positive behaviour management in #physed, I definitively recommend picking up a copy of Positive Behavior Management in Physical Activity Settings-2nd Edition.

Thanks for reading!


Joey Feith is the founder of He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.