Originally published Aug. 27, 2019 by Active Schools.
William Potter is a PE Teacher at Serendipity School in Belmont, California. He shared his thoughts with the Active Schools Blog about Take a Parent to PE Week and why teachers should consider hosting parents during classes.
1: How long have you been a PE Teacher and what’s your favorite thing about the job?
This will mark my 17th school year teaching Physical Education, and my 14th school year at Serendipity School. I absolutely love my job, but my single most favorite thing has to be the satisfaction that comes from watching a child’s eyes light up when they finally “get” it and succeed at something they have been working hard at.
Physical Education is the first step in becoming a physically literate individual. Physical education can be a spark of joy in a student’s life; and a quality physical education program can get students on the path to a lifetime love of movement and health.
3: Do you find that parents are as engaged with their kids physical learning as they are with other aspects of their education?
In my experience, there were two eras in my teaching: before and after. Before I started inviting parents to join PE class for a week, they’d heard stories about how fun PE was, or how they played in PE. Since I started inviting them to join 14 years ago, there has been a shift, parents actively seek me out to ask me questions about the learning experiences their child is having, email administration to compliment my program and advocate for physical education at Serendipity School.
4: What inspired you to start inviting parents to visit you PE classes?
I started going to the Elementary Physical Education workshop at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo after my first year of teaching. There I found a professional development experience where the participants actively engaged during the session. I had more fun playing, and I learned more by participating in the sessions. It was there that I realized that even adults can learn and enjoy physical education. When I began teaching at Serendipity School, I wanted to run a fitness night, like I had seen others do, but without an indoor facility, this was impossible to do at night. It was then that I decided to simply invite parents to school during the day. I use my regular schedule and invited parents to learn by doing and participate with their child.
5: With Take Your Parent to PE Week now a national campaign in its third year, what advice would you give to schools looking to participate?
Be authentic. Your students will know when you are being fake, and they will call you on it in front of anyone. If you are yourself, and you highlight what you do best, you will be a rockstar. I personally always try to squeeze in four types of activities: a fitness game, a dance, a team building or SEL activity, and a cross curricular activity. Those are the things I think I do the best, so I make sure to highlight them.
6: Any closing thoughts on the importance of PE?
Physical education is something close to my heart. I have wanted to be a physical education teacher since I was in the 8th grade. I can’t imagine my life without movement, and I want every child, every parent, and every community member to know how awesome movement can be.
Take Your Parent to PE Week is Sept 23-27, 2019.