When I reflect on my own experiences in physical education as a kid I have mostly positive memories. I was never a star athlete, but I was fortunate to not have any traumatic experiences. I feel that my teachers did a good job in creating an inclusive and positive environment. But when I think about what sort of PE teacher I would like to be, I think about what sort of values and lessons I would like to teach my students. I’ve realized I am less concerned about teaching them about physical fitness, and more concerned about teaching them about what it means to lead a healthy life – or perhaps helping them define what “health” means to them. I think being a good athlete is only one small aspect of what it means to lead an active or healthy life.
I grew up as a competitive synchronized swimmer and spent plenty of mornings dreading the fact I had to jump into a cold pool and swim a thousand meters. Overall, I think this training taught me more social and emotional lessons than physical. It taught me how to work in a team. It also taught me how to “suck it up” and deal with moments that I wanted to avoid or skip out on. I hope that I can help debunk the myth that gym class is only about physical fitness. I believe the more we, as educators, enforce that health is about the number of lengths you can swim or weight you can lift, the further we will be from nurturing a generation that is physically, emotionally and socially “healthy”.