Recently, I had the privilege of attending the SCAHPERD Convention in Myrtle Beach, SC. After some reflection, I’ve extracted a few principles I was reminded of at the conference. I am always trying to find ways to improve my own practice when I have a chance to go to something like a Phys Ed Conference. I definitely appreciate the opportunity to learn from others and get some professional development towards becoming a more effective educator.
Below are 5 lessons I was reminded of at the SCAHPERD convention.
1.) Change is hard and it takes time
It’s easy to look at someone else’s seemingly perfect program and feel bad because your program isn’t where you’d like it to be. I got a chance to talk to quite a few teachers who are in the first few years of their careers. One of the common struggles they are facing is implementing the changes they know are needed to improve the program.
Many times it’s tough because you are stepping into a situation where students are used to poor teaching and low expectations. Or at the secondary level especially, it might be because you’re co-teachers are lazy and don’t have any intention of helping you implement a Quality Physical Education program.
Judy Lobianco reminded us in the keynote speech that we must push towards change even when it’s hard for two main reasons.
- We have to protect the integrity of our profession
- We owe it to our kids to do our best to provide them with a quality Physical Education Program.
It’s important to remember that any type of change is hard and it always takes longer than we’d like. Change will be more visible as older students who where already at the school before you started teaching being to graduate. When I started my first full-time Phys Ed job it was a slow process to implement the changes that I wanted and develop the culture that I knew was possible, but each year as my older students graduated, it became more and more clear that students were starting to get it.
Last year I had taught every student in the school for their entire elementary experience – the culture change is very evident, but it took a lot more time than I wish it had. Each year at the school it gets easier and easier as you get to know the students more, they know you better and they have been taught your philosophy for a longer amount of time.
After you have taught everyone in the school for their entire Physical Education experience (5 years for Elementary, 2-3 years for Secondary) you should see all your philosophies. curriculum, student skills and lesson plans all coming together as students get to experience your program from start to finish. That’s the power of vertical alignment in your curriculum.
It’s really a beautiful thing when it all comes together, although – YES, it seems to take forever.
So make small improvements take baby steps and don’t forget change is hard and it takes time, but stick with it because it’s worth it in the end.
2.) You are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with – Jim Rohn
I find more and more than this saying rings true in my life. The more time that I end up spending with people that I want to be like one day, the better I find myself becoming as some of their wisdom rubs off of me as we hang out. Being with people that are high achievers can motivate and inspire you to push your limits and question your capabilities as well.
Passion for life is contagious and so is the pursuit of excellence – so start hanging out with people who have both and you’ll find your own increasing as well.
I found that my favorite part of the conference was spending time with passionate Physical Educators who inspire me to become a better teacher and individual. It was great getting to meet people I had previously met only through Twitter conversations @peshoes, @TBrodnick and @fit2Bsmart. Twitter is an awesome tool, but it doesn’t compare to face to face conversations.
I was also pretty pumped that I got a chance to hang out and learn from one of the best Physical Education Teachers, Session Presenters and Game Creators out there – J.D. Hughes. I’ve based many of my lessons and units on ideas and games from his books (all of his books links are in my Amazon Store if you’re interested).
If you want to be a Pro, it’s time to find some other Pro’s to spend time with. Connect with people that are doing things you’d like to do and learn from them. Their energy is contagious, which brings me to my next principle…
3.) Energy is Contagious
I figured this out as a teacher pretty quickly, because it’s pretty evident when teaching that if you don’t bring your enthusiasm to your students, it shows up in their level of engagement. One of the most common pieces of feedback I got during my student teaching experience was “Great lesson, but you need to be more enthusiastic”
I was reminded about it in many of the presentations at the conference that were in lower attendance – Whether you are presenting to teachers or students this principle remains the same.
The energy that you bring to your presentation will either be a positive or a negative for those you are presenting or teaching to. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re presenting to 9 teachers or 40 kids, you have to bring your A-game to make sure that you are always doing your best to give 100% to those you are teaching.
For example, at the conference I went to a session run by the guys who started the Fitness Card Game: PlayoutTheGame – It was a tough spot in the schedule, 4:30 – last session of the day and the weather outside was beautiful.
There were 9 people there… yep, they didn’t even get double digit attendance…
It’s like that same feeling you get at the Middle School dance when you didn’t know it’s not cool to show up on time and when you get there you find only 5 other people there… you guys know what I mean, right?
Anyways, it would have been easy for them to feel discouraged and go through the motions, but they really brought an incredible level of energy to the presentation, it lifted the mood and everyone ended up having a lot of fun.
Sidenote: These cards are pretty awesome and the guys running the company are super cool and passionate about reaching kids and helping them learn fun ways to stay fit. You can see a quick overview of the cards below:
The cards have a ton of different games that can be played and multiple applications for Phys Ed. They even have cool bonus cards and power-ups as you can see in the graphic above. I bought a bunch of decks to use in my program. I love the idea of flipping the perception of exercise from work to play… after all, as their slogan reminds us:
Why Workout, When You Can Playout?
It’s important to remember we are all selling something. As teachers what is it that you are selling?
Personally, I’m trying to sell the idea to my students that the decision to live a healthy and active lifestyle is a no-brainer. I also want to show them how to accomplish that objective in a variety of ways – but first I have to sell them on the idea, otherwise it doesn’t matter if they know how to do it or not.
I do this through infusing fun into my program, leading by example and continuously talking about the many benefits of physical activity and healthy living. After 6 years in my program I want my kids to leave believing that their personal health and wellbeing should be their first priority. I also want them to understand how to stay healthy and have the basic skills they’ll need to pursue sports, fitness and wellness.
4.) Learn to Modify and Adjust
As teachers we need to hone our ability to think outside the box and modify our teaching when needed. Many of the presenters at the conference had to figure out ways to make their games work in a conference room with a huge chandelier, or a small space with no projector screen. Or they had to make modifications because they couldn’t bring all of their equipment to the conference for different activities.
This skill is so important for us to master. We will always have things that can throw off our original plan. It could be anything from students showing up late in the middle of a lesson, to special needs students mainstreamed into regular ed classes, school assemblies disrupting our schedules, new students coming into your program without prior knowledge… the list goes on.
We have to learn to be flexible, assess the situation and determine creative ways to achieve our objectives no matter what the situation is. There are always plenty of ways to skin a cat… (What a weird saying, right?)
So when life gives you lemons, make some lemonade. And even when life gives you lemonade – think of some ways that you could make it better – substitute an ingredient or try something new.
Every game that has ever been created can be modified a bizillion different ways to achieve lots of different outcomes. If you’re looking for some fresh ideas to tweak your games – check out this awesome free resource put together by @AndrewWymer10s and @GHSaysRockChalk that I found on Twitter last week – it will give you a ton of prompts to get your creativity flowing in the right direction.
5.) Being Awesome Takes Hustle
Just like anything in life, You will get out what you put in.
Becoming a great teacher is going to take hard work, lots of time and lots of mistakes. Each time you have a crappy lesson, learn from it, modify it and turn it into an awesome lesson.
Don’t expect to go to a conference in two sessions and think that you’re going to walk away a changed person. Just count on taking small bits and pieces as you go along and making small changes to your teaching that will eventually add up to something much bigger.
It was awesome to see lots of people at the conference attending a ton of sessions, because they were hungry for knowledge and wanted to do everything they could to become a more effective educator. If you’re not willing to put in the work don’t expect to reap the benefits.
Spend the time it takes to get better, put in the effort and take action – go to a conference, buy a book, have an intentional conversation, reflect on your practice, stay focused… Get Your Hustle On
If you read this far – thanks for your time, allow me to give you a virtual fist bump
I hope you guys all have an awesome week. As always…