As a young teacher, “Let’s take inventory” might have been my least favorite quote from my co-teachers. Fortunately, as I have aged, I have come to realize its importance. In physical education, pieces of equipment represent our “instructional supplies,” and to meet our program objectives sufficient equipment is essential. Given its importance, it would follow that we take great care in knowing what we have. But, do we always know what equipment we have? If it is in working order, and is it really meeting our needs? This blog will provide one of many inventory tips and ensure we know what we have and what we need, at all times.
Several years ago a new teacher asked me to help her with her equipment. When I arrived at the school the first thing I noticed is that she had over 100 hula hoops. I also noticed about the same number of Frisbee® discs spread around the equipment room. In our discussion, it became clear that she was extremely proud of a new Disc Golf Kit she had purchased. It came with Frisbees, plastic strips to be made into hoops, and cones. I asked her how she purchased the equipment and she said, “My principal said to get something I needed and I thought this would be good.” Several things went through my mind including “you already had what you need for Frisbee Golf” and “What did your inventory suggest you need?” I didn’t say the former, but I did ask the latter. Needless to say, she didn’t have an inventory. She didn’t know what she needed or even what equipment she had. Since this time, I have met and worked with several new teachers in hopes of avoiding this situation and maximizing equipment purchases.
When I was teaching, I was fortunate enough to work with two P.E. teachers who taught me the importance of a meticulous inventory. We did inventory twice a year and counted EVERYTHING. This allowed us to know exactly what we had, what we needed, and to ensure our equipment was safe. An up-to-date inventory allowed us to prioritize our needs and wants (this was tough for a 24-year-old) as to maximize our allocated funds. We could go to the principal and say, “We used to have 40 coated-foam balls, but 5 are worn after years of use. We need at least 36 to teach our lessons appropriately, maximize student activity, and ensure all students are learning. Are there funds available to purchase these supplies for the students?” If awarded a grant, or by chance (don’t laugh too hard hear) a building administrator came to us with some extra money, or the PTA wanted to support us with some funding, we always had a list that we could provide immediately before their generosity disappeared.