While I sit in my covid bubble reflecting on Shape Up Illinois week 2021 and the ‘state of Physical Education and Health Education’ in the age of a pandemic, I am totally convinced that the time to become a Physical Education and Health Education advocate is now. I would venture to guess that the physical education and health programs that you ‘left’ in March of 2020 will NOT be the programs that you’ll return to in the Fall of 2021.
If you believe strongly in what you have to offer to your students and communities, and you feel like your voice isn’t always heard, it is imperative to ‘change paths’ and look for ‘new avenues’ of communication and teaching. Be sure that the voice you have is one that is strong and passionate. I urge you not to shy away from the ‘steepness of the path’ going forward; we all need to get our voices heard. Your expertise and knowledge needs to aid and drive the changes that will be needed to continue giving your students the programs that they will need and deserve.
Your persistence in continually educating administrators, BOE members, parents, students and community members on the importance of physical education and health to a student’s physical, mental and social/emotional health can help to ensure the continuation and growth of programs. Now, as you kind of see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, it is the time to amplify your message and gain support about the important role that your classes ‘play’ in maintaining and improving quality of life for your students.
Advocates (you) with expertise and research-based knowledge of physical activity and health issues can be vital in ‘pushing’ the discussion of what Physical Education and Health Education will/should/could look like in the fall. You should not and cannot rely on others to know what is ‘best’ for teaching health and physical education (you are the EXPERT).
Your work in this arena should be one of your primary purposes and NOW is the time to start working on the solution. Once you get someone’s attention and they are listening, be compelling and make what you are advocating for important to them. You will then find out that you have gained one more voice to create a path for meaningful, well thought-out change. You may just find out because of distance or hybrid learning that doors that were once closed to you are open and you are now seen as being an integral and vital part of educating the whole child. Changes may not happen or the wrong changes may be made without strong advocacy plans, thoughtful solutions and dedicated professionals.
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