Think back to the best teachers you’ve had throughout your life. What are the qualities that made them stand out among the dozens of educators who have crossed your path?
The teachers who fit the criteria as “great teachers” in Physical Education – teachers like John Dunlop – are those who remain intellectually curious and professionally vital both inside and outside the classroom. They maintain an enviable passion for children and the learning process. They remain vivid in the student’s memories forever because of their creativity, sense of fun, compassion, and ability to challenge students to grow and constantly improve.
As we begin the New Year, it’s the perfect time to self-reflect on how you align with the 6 key qualities of a great PE teacher below. These qualities are integrated into IHT’s Spirit Curriculum Resources, originally developed as “PE 3” Curriculum, (PE for the Mind, Body, Spirit) which was approved as an official PE Course statewide in Texas because of its effectiveness and is offered at no cost to our customers nationwide.
It’s also the best time to set your 2016 goals with the end of the spring semester in mind; focusing on how you’ll be the best teacher you can be for your students in the coming year:
- They Hold High Expectations:
The most effective PE teachers expect great effort and accomplishments from their students, regardless of their fitness level. They constantly work toward reaching the goals students set for themselves at the beginning of the semester, holding them accountable on their journey towards success. When teachers believe in their students, young people sense that and work with the teacher to reach their goals.
- They Think Creatively:
The best PE teachers think outside the box, outside the PE classroom, and outside the norm. They leap outside of the classroom walls and take their students with them! As much as possible, top teachers try to make classroom experiences exciting and memorable for the students. They seek ways to give their students the real world application they need and are always looking for new ideas and lessons. Think tactile, unexpected, movement-oriented, challenging, fun and a little bit crazy…then you’re on the right track!
- They Are Versatile and Sensitive:
The best PE teachers remain sensitive to the needs of their students, parents and the community. It’s challenging because each individual will need something different, but they all have the human need to feel appreciated, loved, and that they matter. Students should understand that we are all connected and should experience and accept each other’s similarities and differences. Work with parents to show interest and concern for their children; it’ll be one of the best time investments you can make.
- They Know Every Student Matters:
A great PE teacher knows that if a student can move they are an athlete regardless of their fitness level. Your PE class may be the only place some of your students will have the chance to learn about their health and enjoy their bodies in motion through physical activity and group camaraderie. Great PE teachers have strong core principles embedded in the PE philosophy while evolving with changing times. They embrace new technologies, are fully present for every class and confidently move forward into the future, knowing the seeds they water today will blossom in years to come in each and every student.
- They Inspire Leadership:
Your students may not remember a single lecture you give but they will always remember the way you made them feel. Great PE teachers don’t just deliver the curriculum; they inspire and empower their students to become leaders and teachers in their own right. Showing students you care about them helps create a positive, supportive relationship and helps build an environment where learning can flourish. Listen to your students and help them express who they are and how they want to be treated. Be receptive to their feedback and model the behavior you want students to learn and emulate. Your goal is for each student to experience the connection to themselves, their classmates and to the larger world around them and to take ownership of that connection.
- They Emphasize the FUN in Movement, Learning, and Life:
Great PE teachers create lighthearted fun out of serious learning. They get to know their students’ interests, talents, needs and who they are as individuals. This understanding will help better prepare and tailor your lessons and will help students feel the partnership you’re creating with them in the learning experience. Through this educational experience, each student grows beyond the intended knowledge of the skill or movement into having a direct and personal understanding through practical contact and accountability.
The qualities of being a great PE teacher center on celebrating your own unique teaching style and bringing passion and purpose every day to your students, empowering them to be the best they can be, all while striving for the same in yourself. Commit today to how you will best help your students achieve personal, as well as team goals in activities they both enjoy and are self-motivated to perform beyond your class, all while having the ability to evaluate their successes.
The positive results will lead you to not only be a great teacher, but empower each of your students to design a long-term plan of action – along with the skills necessary to execute it – to improve their health, fitness, health literacy, and commitment to a healthy, long life.