Fargo PE teacher uses his DJ lights to calm the class

A south Fargo elementary physical education teacher, who moonlights as a DJ, has taken his technology and made an amazing system for keeping his gym class on task.

Eagles Elementary PE teacher Tyler Hetland uses lights to help convey to students when they need to listen, and when they can start activities.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY-TV

FARGO — When you walk into Tyler Hetland's physical education class at Eagles Elementary School, you would think the students were getting ready for their disco dance.

"(T)hey know that the different colors mean different things," explained Hetland.

Hetland brought his DJ lights, headsets and software to the school gym awhile back and magic happened.

"(A)s the lights are yellow right now, as I am giving directions, I know you all really want to practice what I am going to show you. I'll let you practice in just a second, so I need you to watch first and then you can practice," Hetland instructed the class.

We witnessed it. Green light certainly means, "go." The kids began going full throttle on their game. But when that light changes to red, the gym goes silent.


Hetland didn't have to say a word. The kids now are so in tune, they know when to play and when to stop(red) and when to listen(yellow).

"It's a lot of just reminding them of what color is the light," Hetland said. "So right now, as they come in, they're super loud. I could just say, 'hey, what color is the light,' and they're all going to be quiet right now. Because they know that's what the expectation is."

So, of course, arguments and disagreements happen on the floor, but these students are so trained on the lights, that all a teacher has to do is hit a red light and the kids stop fighting.

What's more, all the students wear heart rate monitors on their wrists. The color has to change to blue before they can get up and head back to class.

"That was something that bothered me for awhile," Hetland said. "Teaching physical education is I always heard comments (like), 'they're just so wound up coming back to class,' and I felt bad," Hetland said.

That benefits the teacher down the hall about to take her class back from PE. After 40 minutes of heart-pumping PE, these Eagles Elementary kids leave in better shape, and as better listeners.

Hetland believes in this system so much, he hopes other schools in the metro and throughout the region think about using it.

"(T)eaching them to calm their bodies before they leave, I think, has been super powerful. And then, we've been linking it to being in control of your own body," he said.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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