My grandkids have learned to read. They enjoy trying to solve math problems. But when I ask them what they have learned in physical education their answers are opaque. Mostly they tell me what they are doing in P.E.
In this short piece, I am suggesting that physical education teachers, and programs, should be able to describe at least some of what their students have actually learned in their classes. And the kids they are teaching should be able to show you what they have learned.
Physical education programs have a wide variability in the time allotted for classes, from a few days a year, to daily. Classes are also taught by specialists who have majored in physical education, and also by coaches and fitness specialists and classroom teachers.
Dear Physical Education Student Teacher,
You are about to undertake a challenge that many people undervalue and most misunderstand. Sadly, you may actually be one of them. Despite having spent your last four years in professional preparation where faculty have attempted to instruct you about what it means to be a teacher, you will still enter the profession aspiring to emulate the teachers, coaches and programs that molded you as an adolescent.
At this beginning stage of your career, you still see physical education teaching through immature eyes: the eyes of a successful mover, athlete, leader or team player. You aren’t seeing the challenge ahead of you through the eyes of a teacher: a mature professional focused on helping all students. You mostly see only those students that reflect your image and are blind to the less skilled students who are awkward, shy and hesitant to engage. You see success as the number of athletes that gravitate toward you, rather than the number of physically literate children that grow up to become health conscious adults.
When you happen to meet a former student out in public, do you ever wonder what is going through their mind? What do they remember from you and your classes? Does what they now remember after having you as their teacher match what you wanted them to learn from you?
In short, what do you want your legacy to be? Here’s a hint: Don’t wait. Your legacy starts now! Whether you are a new teacher or not so new, and whether you want it to or not, your legacy is under construction! All of us should be asking ourselves, “What do we want our former students to take from their experiences in our classes?”
What I encourage you to think about is not whether you were “popular” with your former students or they viewed you as their “friend.” But rather, what’s the most important thing you want them to remember from their time with you? Is it a certain set of skills? A particular attitude? Knowledge? Or something completely different?
Currently, approximately 50 million students are enrolled in America’s elementary and secondary schools. SHAPE America is leading the effort to ensure that by the time today’s youngest students graduate from high school in 2029, all of America’s young people will be “empowered to lead healthy and active lives through effective health and physical education programs.” SHAPE America proposes doing this through its “50 Million Strong by 2029” commitment.
I am a pragmatic person working in the field of education. I grew up with both of my parents working in public education and I followed in their footsteps hoping to make an impact in the classroom. I have both blue collar and white collar friends from my childhood. For most of my adult life, while I’ve been teaching I’ve also worked in the outdoor industry. I’m knowledgeable about bikes, boards, and hiking gear and I love being outside especially on the water. I also have two children who will be in school through 2029 and unfortunately, I don’t believe that on its current course 50 Million Strong will succeed.
Over the past two months I have watched two outdoor industry businesses close their doors due lack of sales and poor profits. The first business to close was the bike shop that I worked at in a small town. They had a great business model and great brands that supported the shop through the good years but as e-commerce grew they couldn’t compete with cheaper prices on the internet and now the lack of people’s interest in bicycling.
What: 2017 National PE & School Sport Institute
When: July 24-26, 2017
Where: Asheville, North Carolina
Just over a month remains before the start of this year’s National PE & School Sport Institute. Registrations are fast filling and the schedule is finalized. Take a look below at the amazing variety of presentation topics and the list of outstanding presenters. This year’s keynoters include Joey Feith, Greg Dale, Jim DeLine, and the entire Team PHYSEDagogy (Adam Howell, Naomi Hartl, Jonathan Jones, Matt Pomeroy, Sarah G-H, Collin Brooks & Jorge Rodriguez).
As always, the most important people at the PE & Sport Institute are the participants – you! This is your opportunity to learn from others, share your own ideas, and have a great time meeting new colleagues and getting together with your teaching and coaching friends in a warm and inviting setting. Earn 15 hours CEU credits. Learn more by visiting our website and also watch film of previous keynoters including George Graham and Jean Blaydes. Don’t miss this fantastic learning opportunity. Register now and join us in July in Asheville, NC for what is guaranteed to be a highlight of your summer.