Professional development is a standard part of being a teacher. While in school, I thought teacher in service days were awesome because I got a day off and the teachers really didn’t do anything worthwhile and also had a similar vacation day. Fast forward to now, my company, Movement Academy, puts on professional development seminars for PE teachers. In reality, the teachers don’t have a full day off and hopefully learn a few valuable lessons to make them more effective.
To date, we have conducted seminars throughout Louisiana and in the Birmingham, AL, area. One alarming issue is consistent, physical education teachers do not receive the same professional development attention as STEM and core subject teachers. PE teachers unfortunately are viewed as elective instructors and not necessary for ongoing new learning. Many school districts we talk too do not have dedicated professional development for PE, instead lumping them in with other elective courses or forcing them to scavenge for something they can talk about. Last time I checked, childhood obesity and inactivity is still an issue talked about on the news, but school boards like to dodge the issue and not give their teachers and coaches anything consistent to combat the problem.
PE teachers thirst for knowledge to keep their classes interesting and renew their personal “why” just like other teachers. To prevent “roll the ball out”mentality that is too prevalent, school boards have to invest the same attention and money into true physical education. Where can it start, with parents who take an active interest in their child’s physical health besides their ability to read and write. Obese and inactive children become obese and inactive adults that are out of work more, and cost more money from insurance companies and employers to keep around. Where does it start, in PE every day and week. Unlike subject specific teachers, PE teachers and coaches teach EVERY child in the school and sometimes EVERY year depending on school size. Yet why are they being neglected to improve their skills and abilities to make an impact on the most important aspect of living, our health!
The common theme to why PE is treated like a step child is due to no standardized testing. States and school districts leave the how and what to test up to individual teachers. Human nature is to follow the path of least resistance, so with nothing definite to hold people accountable, what do you think is the outcome? It’s the 80/20 rule, 20% of the PE teachers really care and do 80% of the push to improve their skills. Nobody will admit to it, but I promise if a secret camera could be used to show what is done in PE, the 80/20 rule is 100% in effect. Superintendents, administrators, principals, state leaders, start showing PE teachers and coaches love by providing regular and dedicated professional development. EVERYONE BENEFITS!!
Physical literacy is the same as reading literacy, it must be taught and nurtured to grow strong and have a true appreciation for a lifetime. Please contact me regardless of where you live, to start a wave of professional development for physical educators. If you are in a leadership position, I challenge you to start this month with your PE teachers. Email me, Matt Peale at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will help you get started.