An Open Letter To Physical Education Teachers
Dear Physical Education Teachers,
You are not replaceable. Even as people need to find replacements to typical school learning, remember that your role as a teacher is essential and crucial.
Over the past few weeks, we have all gotten a good laugh with parents trying to become teachers at home, realizing just how much goes into the profession. And now more than ever, parents realize just how badly their kids (and themselves) need to stay active not only for their physical health but emotional and mental health as well.
Yet, we feel this uneasiness. There are lots of live streams and videos of daily workouts, yoga sessions, at-home fitness routines that we worry are going to delegitimize ‘Physical Education’ as a subject. Or worse, make your job as a teacher seem pointless.
We Have Been Here Before
We have always felt this threat, though, right? We love Physical Education, but many without the same understanding look at ‘education’ and find it synonymous with ‘activity.’ Michael Graham, Physical Education teacher in Illinois and best known for PE 4 Every Kid, once said this on the Chalk Talk podcast,
“Busy, happy, and good has always been the ‘gold standard’ for PE. Even some admins think you are doing a great job if your kids are busy, happy, and good…but they don’t have a degree or background in PE.
What I teach is Physical Education. I am teaching a class. I am not just a physical activity specialist. If that was my job, I could keep kids moving and find activities to keep them engaged. Physical education is about that learning component.”
Videos, technology, and other resources have always been available even before Covid-19. Great PE teachers like Michael Graham find ways to use these as a supplement, not a replacement.
Want to see how you can use PLT4M’s resources as a supplement in your Physical Education program?
The Squat Example -Activity & Education
Let’s look at the squat. Yes, an excellent movement or activity for those at home right now, but are students all doing it correctly? For anyone who has taught the movement to middle or high school students, we can picture legs going in every direction, rounded backs, and the laundry list of faults that we typically see.
Right now, the best we can do is provide instructional videos and virtual coaching tips to help students squat safely at home. And for many students, they will see the videos and tips and likely improve (much like during a regular class).
But we are well aware that when we do return from social distancing, many students are still going to need that extra TLC that they can only get in a classroom with a teacher.
This is an excellent example of how videos before, during, and after Covid-19 supplement, and never replace the work of teachers. It is all just how we pair them together.
Support & Encouragement
And just like in class, your students still need you! They need your support, guidance, and feedback. Physical Education far past activity has often been the place students go to have a connection with a teacher, learn about themselves, and grow as individuals.
And while we cannot address every single tip or fix for students at home, we can do our best to be there for our students.
At the end of all this, Physical Education will not be replaced. If anything, people are at home seeing the benefits and importance of not only activity but education when it comes to our Physical Wellness.
At the heart of any comprehensive Physical Education program, is a great Physical Education teacher!