Be a Change Agent: Join a Task Force and Shape the Future of Health Education

In a recent keynote address at the awesome North Dakota SHAPE conference I included some thoughts on the different stages that a teacher might go through during their career. It was a slightly tongue-in-cheek adaptation of a 2018 article from Terry Heick and I can definitely identify various stages of my own career, many of which have been aligned with my relationship with my state and national organization.

I remember joining, attending, presenting for, and ultimately serving IAHPERD, my state organization, and I remember joining, attending, presenting for, and ultimately serving SHAPE America, my national organization. Serving on the board of directors for IAHPERD, and volunteering my time on a number of SHAPE America task forces had many benefits, and in listing just a few of them below, I hope to entice you to make a similar step in showing your dedication and sharing your knowledge.

Professional Development: Serving on a task force for a state or national organization can be an excellent opportunity for you to enhance your professional development. You’ll gain exposure to new ideas, best practices, and the latest research in your field.

Networking: Being part of a task force allows you to interact with other professionals in the field. This interaction can lead to new relationships and collaborations, which can lead to further professional or career opportunities. I remember signing up for a health education task force purely because of the reputation of the existing members – I wanted to learn as much as possible from spending professional time with them.

Leadership Skills: Volunteering for a task force can help you develop your leadership skills. You may learn how to lead and facilitate meetings, work with others to achieve common goals, and manage projects. For teachers seeking a leadership opportunity, perhaps beyond the four walls of their own school, working with a state/national organization will allow you to develop as a teacher-leader. This experience will come in handy if you should find yourself applying to be considered for professional recognition.

Advocacy: Practice what you preach. Just as we ask our health students to develop their advocacy skills, task forces often work on issues that are important to the profession. By participating, you can advocate for our profession and help shape policies that affect our work.

Recognition: Too often our work is taken for granted and so it is nice when we do receive recognition for our efforts. Serving on a task force can be a way for teachers to gain recognition for their work and contributions to the profession. This recognition can help enhance career prospects and open up new opportunities.

Acknowledging that you will have to act swiftly, the SHAPE America Health Education Council is currently accepting applications through March 3 for for the following three new task forces:

Task Force for Advancing Appropriate Practices in School-Based Health Education

The goal of this task force is to review and revise the 2015 Appropriate Practices in School-Based Health Education and to develop resources and materials for the implementation of the revised appropriate practices. Learn more and apply >>

Task Force for Instructional Time Requirements in PreK-12 Health Education

The goal of this task force would be to provide a recommendation of the minimum time required for health education in preK-12 schools and/or develop or conduct research to answer the question of how much time is recommended for health education in the preK-12 curriculum. Learn more and apply >>

Task Force for Inclusive Practices in Health Education

The goal of this task force is to assemble a diverse group in both identity and career experience to examine strategies and practices that promote a student-centered learning environment and to create resources for preK-12 educators and HETE programs that aid in supporting educators to make their health education space one that values each student in the room. Learn more and apply >>

I hope you will consider volunteering to serve on one of the task forces mentioned above. Service opportunities such as these will allow you to develop new skills, build relationships, and make a positive impact on our profession.

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