Joining a professional organization is important for our growth as educators and to have the biggest impact on our students. It helps to stay informed of the latest trends, best practices, and to build your support community in physical education.
When I was in my undergrad program as a physical education major at the University of Central Florida (1980), our professors/advisors motivated us the join FAHPERDD (at the time it was called – Florida Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Driver’s Ed.). As undergrads, we were excited to go on a road trip together…wherever the conference was located that year… Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Miami, it didn’t matter, we were heading that way. The main purpose was FUN! However, we left those conferences enlightened, motivated, and viewing our profession in a new light. Great friends were made throughout the state, we connected with PE Majors from all Universities. The conferences also had a special section of presentations just for us, the students, the up-and-coming new teachers!! Yay!
Every year we would attend, and our professors were also there as support and to present; they were our great role models. We also took several road trips out of state to regional and national conferences (I cannot tell you everything about those road trips), but this one year we headed to Dallas, rented a van, and packed about 7 or 8 P.E. majors in. We all arrived healthy and functional, and again enlightened and blown away by the exhibit hall, presentations, and key connections.
Fast forward forty years, many state and national conferences, loads of fun, and priceless growth as an educator. Have there been years when I had to pay my own way…travel, membership, registration fees? Yes, an investment for my soul, for my students, for my great profession. We have all experienced years of hills and valleys, we find ways NOT to be stagnant, to relight our desire to be a great teacher to ALL. So, as I reflect on our recent state conference this year, which is now SHAPE Florida, I think, how lucky I am to have my lifelong friends, two of who were there since the beginning in 1980, Hollie Newnan, our executive director of SHAPE Florida and Marilynn Orr, High School Physical Education Teacher in Lake County. We can’t believe how quickly time has passed, but we’re still giving back, we want to share our experiences, pass along the knowledge, fun, and friendship. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything in the world. I encourage all new physical education majors, new teachers, and seasoned teachers to stay involved in your professional organization (whichever one that may be), get involved, volunteer your time, and feed your soul.
Below are some strategies for continuous improvement as a physical educator:
- Reading and Googling
- Professional print journals (Strategies; Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance)
- Web-based books, visual resources, and informational websites
- Joining a support group
- Professional learning communities with supportive colleagues within a school, across a district or state, or online (teacher discussion forums, social networking sites, etc.)
- Promote professional learning and colleague collaboration and support
- Engaging in professional development
- One-day district in-service trainings
- Attending state and national conferences and workshops
- Online webinars on timely topics
- Sharing your expertise
- Serving your profession
- Committees at the district and state levels
- School and community leadership as the physical activity expert
- Continuing your education
- Graduate school
- Online education
- Continuing education credit
Start slow, ask questions and engage with fellow teachers. You will be inspired and renew your energy for the profession. Check out the Shape America website as well as your state organization to get started. You’ll be glad you did.