Career Story: Elementary School Physical Education (PE) Teacher

Elementary School Physical Education (PE) Teacher

Job Title: PE Teacher

Education: BA in Human Performance, Sports and Leisure, Metro State College •• MA in Education Administration, Grand Canyon University

Previous Experience: I started as a substitute teacher in two school districts, then received my first and current job at the school I completed my student volunteer hours at in college.

Job Tasks: I work for the Denver Public School District in Colorado which provides a free education for all residents. As an elementary PE teacher, I am responsible for introducing a variety of activities and games that students can incorporate into a lifetime of physical fitness and activity.

On a typical day I start with meetings or planning time until about a half hour before school when I am responsible for watching the children on the playground who are dropped off before the bell rings. As my teaching day starts, I will see 5-7 classes in a course of a day for 45 minutes at a time. This schedule allows the majority of my day to be spent on essential tasks rather than administrative tasks. Administrative tasks can include professional development, staff meetings or day to day operations such as lesson plans, lesson research, making copies or arranging for special events, presentations or speakers.

This year I had to incorporate travel time into my schedule as enrollment at our elementary school decreased and enrollment at a nearby middle school increased. This was the first time I had a job share assignment, but it required an extra 30 minutes out of my eight hour day for travel that took essential teaching time away from the students. One of the downfalls of becoming a PE teacher rather than a classroom teacher is that more and more schools are forced to make hard choices with the budget and often times "specials" such as PE, music and art are the first to go. On the other hand, there is no other job in the building that allows you to play all day and wear what most people get comfortable in after work every day!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part about being a Physical Education teacher is that you get to "play" with the kids all day and you get to wear shorts, t-shirts and sweats every day. On days without students you will find that the other teachers are dressing like you and making comments about how nice it must be to wear comfortable clothes all day! The most rewarding part of this job however is that on any given day you may introduce an activity or game that will give a student a skill, passion or love that may last a lifetime.

The worst part of becoming a PE teacher is sometimes the lack of respect you receive from other teachers in the building. Some teachers feel that because the students WANT to come to your classroom, it is easier in terms of discipline and everyday operations. Although it is true that the kids LOVE to come to gym, it still takes a strong teacher with an organized and strict environment to keep the students safe and focused.

Job Tips:
1. The first piece of advice I give to any student teacher is to get as much "real life" experience as you can. An excellent teacher makes classroom management look easy and there is only one college course focused on discipline and classroom management, so before you get out there for yourself and fall hard, get that classroom, coaching, camp, daycare or any other kind of experience you can and if you come across some awesome teachers, ask them to mentor you and train you in their classrooms.

2. The next piece of advice I give to all aspiring teachers is to get your substitute license before you student teach because when you complete your hours and there is still a month of school left, your cooperating teacher may ask you to substitute or you may find another opportunity before the new year even begins.

3. The third piece of advice I would give is to keep a book of all the lesson plans you developed in the course of your college career and always explore the internet and PE websites for additional materials so that you have the information in one place when you land that first job or as you spend your time as a substitute.

Additional Thoughts: There is no better job in the world, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND becoming a PE teacher if you have a passion for fitness or sports!

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