I thought it would be way down the road.
I have always had the dream of having a sign on my office door that reads “Dr.” in front of my name at a university someday. It was during my undergraduate experience, during those debriefing sessions after peer teachings freshman year, I knew I wanted to nerd out on not just teaching physical education, but the stuff behind it. The pedagogy. I wanted to teach future teachers someday.
Someday meaning, ten or maybe even 20 years down the road after many years of teaching elementary physical education – which I LOVED by the way. But, four years into my elementary gig, the opportunity landed right in front of me: a chance to teach in the PETE program, and at my alma mater.
I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I didn’t think it would happen so soon!?
But I was offered the job and accepted. I taught all kinds of courses as an instructor: one-credit physical education courses, elementary and secondary methods, and supervised student teachers. I also served as the health education coordinator. I learned as I went and did the best I could. I brought my passion with me to each class and had a GREAT experience. But, even as early as my first-year goal-setting meeting with my department head, I was saying, “I think I’d like to work toward my PhD, and I think I know where I’d like to go”.
Long story short, after three years of teaching in PETE, I decided to make the jump. There have not been any days I’d consider easy, but each day I become more and more grateful for the opportunity, and I know this journey is worthwhile for so many reasons. Here are a five of them:
1. Okay, “research” sounds scary and to be honest, it is a little scary. I may have plenty of teaching and service experience, but zero research experience. But now that I’m learning and finally doing research, I am confident it can make and will make a difference in our field.
2. I have amazing mentors, and mentorship might be the most important aspect of any person earning a doctorate degree. There’s a saying, “you become like the most 5 people you spend the most time with”, or something like that. Well, no one earning a PhD or working in a Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership Doctoral program lacks passion and enthusiasm for our work. That’s contagious, and I am going to soak up every day of that until I graduate.
3. Job security. As an instructor, while I was fairly confident that I’d have my job next year, there were no promises. Instructors are very commonly on year-by-year contracts. After you get a PhD, you can work your way up to a tenure track position. The thought of a bit of job security, and a little more money is comforting.
4. I got a graduate assistantship. This is a big deal, and many would advise only to pursue a PhD if you are able to land an assistantship. This way, most of your tuition is paid for, and you get to teach! It requires being a full-time student, but for me, teaching is my favorite part of everyday.
5. I get to be an expert in the field and work toward reaching my full potential. I’m pretty competitive…mostly with myself. One does not need to be “super smart” to earn a PhD, but one does need to be consistent, reasonably intelligent, and very stubborn. I appreciate the challenge and growth throughout this journey.
Thinking about it? My advice: do it, but do it for the right reasons, and with the right mentors in the right program. Don’t settle for “curriculum and instruction” if you are incredibly passionate about teaching physical education and want nothing more than work as a professor in PETE for your dream job.
This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Lisa Paulson, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of slowchathealth.com
Pair this post with the following:
Supporting Meaningful PE in Health Education by Allisha Blanchette
Why Become National Certified in Health by Christine Murray and Joanna Wolk