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What Do Physical Educators Do?

by Rhonda Holt

"What do you do?" Throughout my career I've been asked that question many times. I expect that you have too. If so, how do you respond? Something that I hope you NEVER say is "I'm just a teacher," or "I'm a gym teacher" or something similar that diminishes the importance of what I believe physical educators do. I know my response to this question has changed over the course of my career and is often based on whom I'm talking to. But, as a physical educator I'm proud of what I do and I'm not hesitant to let others know that. So, I've listed below a few possible answers for you to consider the next time you are asked that question!

  • "I teach children," then when asked what you teach follow it with, "I teach them the skills they need to be active for the rest of their life."
  • "I am a physical educator and I know that what I do is important. There's a lot of research now supporting what I've always known: Physically fit and active students do better academically."
  • "I provide students a place during the school day where they can move, have fun, and know they are safe."
  • "I am a physical education teacher and a role model. I like to share my passion for (walking, biking, tennis, etc.) because I want others to know the value and enjoyment that comes from being active."
  • "I teach my students to treat each other with respect because I know it's important for them to learn and practice this important life skill."
  • "I am a member of my state physical education association and SHAPE America because I believe it's important to support and participate in my professional organizations."
  • "I provide my students with a variety of physical activity opportunities in order to help them find an activity that they enjoy and will pursue on their own."
  • "I do more than throw out the ball! I use our National Physical Education Standards to guide my planning, teaching and assessment."
  • "Yes, I do have some time off during the summer but it's not three months paid vacation! During that time I go to workshops, take classes, and look for new ideas that help keep my lessons exciting and relevant for my students!"
  • "Yes I do get to wear tennis shoes to work! Don't you wish you had chosen to be a physical education teacher? It's the best job in the world and not just because of what I wear to work!"

I've learned that it's not as easy as one or two comments when you are asked that "What do you do?" question. But I do hope that you are always ready to respond with an answer that lets others know that you are proud of your chosen profession and why! Remember, we don't teach "gym" or "P.E." or whatever it's called where you live, we teach children and that's the greatest calling ever. Be excited and proud that you are a physical education teacher!

Biography: After teaching elementary physical education for 33 years, Rhonda spends time working on projects that allow her to stay connected with teachers and students. Serving as the Project Director for "Let's Move Active Kansas Schools" Rhonda has the opportunity to promote the value and benefit of implementing a Comprehensive School Physical Activity program. Additionally, Rhonda serves as a consultant for Skillastics. In this role, she can draw on her teaching experience and continue to provide suggestions and ideas to help teachers promote quality physical education in our schools. Rhonda was recognized as the NASPE National Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2000 and draws on the experiences and connections she made to stay connected and excited about promoting physical education and physical activity.

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