Being a #PhysEd Role Model


With the recent release of @jessicaolien's article "Dodgeball Should Not Be Part of Any Curriculum, Ever" there has been a lot of discussion within the #PhysEd community about its content and claims. @JoeyFeith weighed in on Branch with his thoughts on "No Team Sports in #PhysEd?" and countless others in the #PhysEd  community have shared their views. After time for reflecting on it all its my turn. 

So here I am up on my soapbox ready to share my thoughts on the state of #PhysEd
I have heard a lot of talk recently in the #PhysEd and #pegeeks community about how there has "Never been a better time to be a physical educator." I am sure I even said it on the latest #PhysEd Podcast, however after reflecting on the statement I have come to the conclusion that it is not true. 
It's not that there has never been a better time, its just that through building connections with other like minded physical educators on platforms like Twitter we are better able to advocate for positive change in our profession. We have support networks, we have the power of numbers, we have got each others back.

Dr Ash Casey mentioned today in his #PHYSEDagogy Spotlight about the Rip Van Winkle effect (he was sure to reference it as the work of @VGoodyear) and how if you were to go to sleep in a gymnasium in the 1970's and wake up in 2013, minus the iPad's and apps, would you notice anything different in the instruction and delivery of a #PhysEd lesson? Sadly the answer is probably NO in most cases. 

"We are in such a powerful and beautiful position to be a positive influence on kids lives" as Joey Feith (or Zeus) put it beautifully in the last #PhysEd Podcast
As physical educators this should be in the forefront of our minds every single day. We should aim to create an open, stimulating environment of possibility in our classrooms, gymnasiums and on our fields. The days of naming, shaming and breaking kids confidence for their lack of physical ability is behind us.

Go out right now and ask the next 10 adults you meet to describe their experiences of physical education and I guarantee you more than 50% of them will have negative memories of their time in "gym class." 
You might hear things like: embarrassing, demoralizing, dodgeball, dominated by boys, only played team sports, it ruined my self esteem, I hate sports now.
Now go an ask 10 students in the classrooms of @JoeyFeith, @AndyVasily, @LovePhyEd, @TheDumbJockMyth, @MrBridge204or any other of the fantastic team #PhysEd members out there and see if the answers are the same. In these classrooms you will hear things like: it's fun, challenging, we have to think about it, we get to choose, we reflect, we respect each other, we take risks, we play fairly. 

I am here to tell you right now:  IT STARTS WITH YOU! BECOME A #PHYSED ROLE MODEL TODAY!

Being a #PhysEd Role Model:

Be a Role Model in your #PhysEd Class
It starts every day when you pick up your students for their weekly or daily #PhysEd lesson. 
Be in a good mood, greet your kids warmly and give off positive energy for the entire lesson, even if you are exhausted, stressed or bogged down with work. It is amazing how that positive attitude can transform the students who most likely were brain dead from sitting in a desk for the last few hours practicing equations or verb tenses.
Engage your students in discussions, create a climate of possibility in your lessons. Do not command and control and tell the students what to do, give them options and suggestions. Have boundaries and clear consequences.
Model appropriate behaviours, allow them to see you fail. Nobody is perfect.
Explain to them the reasons why and your thinking behind why they are doing certain activities, games, challenges. Involve them in the planning, assessing and reflection processes.
Make the most of the time that you have. Don't waste it! 
Above all, JOIN IN WITH YOUR STUDENTS when you are playing games. Show them that you love to take part in the activities and games that you saw fit to introduce to them. 

Be a Role Model in your School
As #PhysEd teachers we are often both locationally and institutionally separated from the rest of the school. Our gyms and fields are at the far reaches of our campuses and we are often not invited or valued members of discussions on curriculum and important school affairs. 
This changes now with you!
Make yourself known in your school. Be proud of your #PhysEd program and advertise it to your colleagues. 
Show them the cool stuff you are doing, ask them to collaborate on cross curricular units. Be reliable, meet with classroom teachers, visit other classrooms and observe how other teachers work. Don't take no for an answer. Have evidence to support your requests to admin as to why purchasing an iPad or two for your department is going to benefit student learning. Have a parent open evening of #PhysEd fun!
It is hard work but trust me it is worth it. In the eyes of our students you may be the coolest and best teacher on campus, but we should also be aiming to be viewed in the same way by administrators and other educators. 
No longer are you just the person who takes the students for an hour a week so class teachers get their release time. You are every bit as important and respected in our school as the teacher who teaches reading, writing, math, science or geography. 
Challenge the perceptions of physical education in your school, just like @JoeyFeith did here:  Challenge your Work!

Be a Role Model in the Community
Whether is it with the parents of your students, your friends or online in the #PhysEd & #pegeeks community advocate and be proud of what you are doing. Go out and find community activity opportunities for your students. Join Twitter, start a blog. Share your knowledge and passion with anyone who will listen. The more of us who are doing fantastic, innovative things  and sharing them openly, the less there are of us who are reinforcing the negative stereotype of the "Gym Teacher" with his thigh hugging shorts, sweatbands, clipboard and whistle. Become well know for what you do, don't be afraid to fail and learn from your mistakes. Be somebody who people turn to for answers about #PhysEd.

Be a Role Model in Your Life
Live healthy, be active and share your passion for sports, activity, health and wellness with everyone you meet. Join a social sports team and invite your friends. Show them how much fun it is to play. How easy it is to eat right and exercise! I recentlyQuit Sugar and after initially being embarrassed about it, I have advocated its benefits and recruited two other people to start the same 8 week detox that I am on. 
By living active, healthy lives we set an example for those around us and enable those connected to us to feel supported and motivated to make positive change in their lives.


Going full circle back to @jessicaolien's article "Dodgeball Should Not Be Part of Any Curriculum, Ever"  we should not feel offended by its content or its claims. We should feel empowered to make a change to the way that those outside the #PhysEd community view us. We know we are doing great work and making positive changes in students lives, now its time for everyone else to know it too. 

Speak out, be loud and proud and be a #PhysEd Role Model. This is the first step in our journey for more respect within the greater community about the work that we do. Let's work together to bust the myths and stereotypes of "gym" and hope that in 10 years time we can read articles from one of our ex students which celebrate the work and opportunities that were provided to them by their #PhysEd teacher and how we had a positive impact on their lives, rather than damaging them. This is our mission!

I am a #PhysEd Role Model. Are you?

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  1. there are several aspects of this article that i am completely in agreement with. We should all strive to be role models in our schools. Being positive and uplifting to our students and colleagues has a trickle down effect in all areas of our professional life. I have found that teachers in the building are very responsive to the encouraging words and actions that i consistently offer. I also feel that the physical conditioning i myself do is important. Students need to see that i practice what i preach. This makes them much more receptive to the instruction that i am leading.

  2. I love the idea of reaching out to the faculty/ staff more. This year I tried to do a ‘Biggest Loser’ for them. It didn’t work as well as I had hoped. I would love to read an article on how to get them involved more. It is very hard to get adults out of their comfort zone and because of those ‘bad PE memories, most teachers will not participate.