I’d like to introduce Joey Feith, founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com. It’s an excellent resource for connecting with other physical education teachers for networking and ideas as well as having a ton of lessons and curriculum to download.
He’s also deeply involved in physical education at both local and national levels in Canada. He is one of the new leaders in physical education and was kind enough to take time and answer questions about PE.
Tell us a little bit about your background in sports and physical education:
I grew up in a small, very French suburb on the south shore of Montreal, Canada. I feel like people often forget just how French Quebec really is. To help me learn the language, my parents put me into a French elementary school. I really can’t tell you what happened during those first few years because I actually had no idea what was going on. What I can tell you is that, as much as the classroom was scary and confusing to me, I LOVED recess and PE. Sports were my chance to interact with others without having to worry about how to say things or what was going on. In the gym, things just made sense.
As I grew older, I continued to love sports, but was turned off by the competitiveness and sometimes elitist thinking that was associated to higher level sports leagues. Although I had the skill to play at a higher level, I opted to stick to rec leagues and play for fun. In those leagues, it never seemed to matter how many trophies you brought home or who your parents knew. We played for fun, and it was awesome.During my late teens, I became very involved with Day Camps.
It was then that I realized that I wanted a career that allowed me to work with young people. I decided to apply to McGill University’s PETE (Physical Education Teacher Education) program, and got in.My time at McGill confirmed that I had made the right choice, and my passion for Physical Education began to grow.
I started getting involved in every way I could think of, and, before I knew it, had added quite the variety of experiences to my portfolio. As an undergrad, I taught adapted aquatics; I taught to a group of students with ADHD in a clinical setting; I taught PE at both the elementary and high school levels in both English and French; I started a community PE program where I would run activities for people aged between 5 and 75 years old; I got involved at the provincial level with the Association of Physical Educators of Quebec, and, later, at the national level with Physical and Health Education Canada; and I did all of this while studying full time.
Like I said, I was extremely passionate about PE and took every opportunity I could to learn more about it.When I graduated from McGill, I was sure that, given my passion and experience, I’d get a job right away. I even was told by the school where I did my final field experience that they would hire me the following September. Why apply to any other boards if a school says they’ll hire you? What a rookie mistake that was!
I didn’t get hired. I was heartbroken as I watched all of my friends find jobs and start teaching. I did get some sub work here and there, but it was always for science, math, or art. It seemed like Physical Education just wasn’t meant to be
A wise man once told me that we should never waste our time and energy on problems, but, rather, we should focus them on solutions. I decided then that, if nobody was going to hire me right away, I wasn’t going to sit around and let my teaching skills go rusty.
I turned to the Internet to try and learn more about PE. What I found was a few sites here and there, none of which looked modern, none of which were enhanced with rich social media communities, and none of which offered resources in an organized, visually-appealing way.
Again, the voice in my head kept reminding me to focus on solutions, not problems. So I did what any crazy person would do and decided to teach myself everything that I could on website development, graphic design, and social media community management.
A few months later, I bought a domain called ThePhysicalEducator.com. I started connecting with teachers over Twitter. I started making cool-looking resources (well, I think they are) that others could access for free. I built a website that I was proud of, and one that I felt represented my profession well.
Today, thousands of Physical Education specialists and advocates visit ThePhysicalEducator.com, engage with the #physed community, and download its resources. As for me, well, I don’t feel rusty. I guess things worked out pretty nicely after all.
Do you currently teach PE? What are some of your biggest challenges in the classroom?
I am lucky enough to be teaching Elementary Physical Education (grades 1-6) in a small school just south of Montreal. I have a principal who supports my ideas and even encourages me to try new ones and I get to work in a beautiful gym with amazing students and a great staff.
That being said, my job challenges me on a daily basis. My biggest challenge is behavior management. I find it quite frustrating when content goes untaught because students lack self-control. However, I’m starting to get a better understanding of how to deal with it. The thing is that, the situations in which I have to deal with a student’s lack of self-control are actually teachable moments in disguise. I might not get to go through all the content on my lesson plan, but that doesn’t mean that students will leave my gym without having learned something.
Another great challenge is the idea of creating assessment practices that are as objective and comprehensive as possible. I think I’m on the right track with the work I am doing with Purposeful #PhysEd, but I still have a long way to go.
I’m still a young teacher (I graduated McGill in 2009), and I recognize the fact that I still have lots to learn. I can’t wait to learn it.
You’re actively involved in planning for physical education at the regional and national levels. What are some of the goals you’d like to accomplish at these levels?
At the provincial level, I hope to help teachers understand how they can be using Quebec’s Physical Education Curriculum as a guide for their planning and assessment. Our curriculum here is intimidating due to how thorough it is, but unless we teach ourselves how to break it down and teach it with efficiency, our kids will be missing out on learning.
At the national level, I would love to help break stereotypes of what a physical educator is (we’re not “gym” teachers) and to help lead a new generation of professional, knowledgeable, and motivated Physical Education specialists. Physical and Health Education Canada is doing a great job at advocating for this, but it comes down to us in our gyms to make real change happen.
On your website you are concerned about physical education at a global level. What are some of the challenges that you see for physical educators globally? Are they the same or are they unique.
Globally, I think our greatest challenges are a) changing the way that society (including school staff and administration) views the role of today’s Physical Educator, b) to learn how to meet the needs of 21st Century Learners, and c) to find ways of making health move back up in today’s youth’s list of priorities.
From my experience of connecting and engaging with teachers from all around the world, I think its fair to say that these challenges are presenting themselves to all Physical Educators, regardless of where they may teach.
Many of my readers are parents. How do parents fit into a healthy lifestyle and physical education for kids?
I just had parent-teacher interviews not too long ago and was quite surprised at how many parents asked me “what can I do to help?”
For any parents who may be reading this, please realize that when your child’s Physical Education teacher selects an activity for their class, there is (I hope) a reason and a purpose for that activity to have been selected. The tools we use to teach your kids the concepts they need to go on and live healthy, active lifestyles may seem funny at times. However, they have been carefully selected and planned for to ensure that situations occur in which your child can learn specific concepts and reach specific outcomes.
That being said, I ask two things of you
1. Give your child opportunities to move outside of school hours. Get them outdoors, make them aware of the effects exercise has on their health, have fun with them. Help them develop a love for being active and healthy.
2. The next time you find yourself talking to your child about their day at school, don’t just ask them what they played in PE, asked them what they learned. Ask them to show you techniques or explain concepts. Help them reinforce their learning by having to revisit it and translate it in their own words. Help them become more aware of their learning in Physical Education. Help them see that, just like any other class, Physical Education teaches them important things. Help us change the way society views PE. We literally can not do it without you.
It is obvious that you’re trying to help physical educators be more professional and effective. What are some ways that PE teachers can accomplish this?
Steve Jobs once said that each of us should aspire to be a yardstick for excellence. Assume that the whole world is watching you and make sure that everything you do is work you are proud of and willing to show off.
Once you’ve got that down, show it off! Blog, tweet, post, share! Get online and become a part of the greater #physed community. There is no better tool for professional development than ongoing professional discussion and social media lets us do just that 24/7. Jump on the bandwagon, start sharing online, get excited about growing as a professional, and be ready to become the best teacher you ever dreamed of being.
Any questions or topics you would like to expand upon that weren’t asked?
I love hearing from teachers. If you have a second, check out ThePhysicalEducator.com and let me know what you think. I’m trying to create the best online resource for Physical Educators, but I can’t get there without your advice and feedback. I could never express enough how much I appreciate the support and feedback of the #physed community, so thank you in advance for all that you do. Happy teaching!
Summary Wow! Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to let us know about yourself and your website for physical educators. I’ve included links to your Twitter and Linkedin pages as well your contact page at the website.
Best of luck in your career and your website. I’m excited about helping present your ideas and experience to teachers, parents and coaches.
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/joeyfeith |
Contact Page ThePhysicalEducator
Links to Resources for Teachers and Coaches at ThePhysicalEducator<