Know Your Why

In these interesting times in education, we are often faced with challenges (substitute coverage, school testing, lack of funding, overworked, undervalued, and often times just plain old– burned out). When these struggles hit hard, I often think of my why. Did I do this for the fame and money- of course not. I became a middle school Health Ed and PE teacher first and foremost to mentor and provide a model for students who looked like me (Multi-cultural Black and Brown community); for those who struggled with the structure of school – like I did.

As I transitioned to working at my school district’s central office (Curriculum and Instruction supporting Adapted Physical Education, Health Education, and Physical Education –and wellness regulations too); I realized I still had the same why. AND- I wanted to influence at a wider scope so that many students beyond a single school felt love, compassion, and mentoring to be their better selves becoming lifelong movers and practicing health literacy skills too. This changed the way my Why looked moving to curriculum development, teacher training, and connecting with other system leaders; but my Why never changed.

This evolved even more as I picked up part time work with Coordinating Physical Education Teacher Educators in a master’s degree program. My Why passion was once again revitalized through working with pre-service teachers who are “on fire” to become physical education teachers. They continue to be excited, ready to learn, make mistakes- grow from them, and build up our next generation of leaders. They let me learn and grow with them and mentor them through the process as well.

My story is simple- yet complex- Stick to Your why

· Check on ourselves and see if your why is still the same or changed.

· Strategy: Sometimes by changing schools or positions our Why can look different, and still maintain fidelity and feed our intrinsic values as we persevere through difficult times. Sometimes picking up other types of work (like how I did with teaching future teachers) helps rekindle the Why.

My ask for you:

If you feel burnout, fatigue, or mental health challenges in your profession….

· take a mindful moment and breath.

· Reflect on your original why for getting into education.

· Ask yourself, “Does my why still match?” “Am I in the best place to fulfill my Why?” If the answer is yes, keep on moving forward. If the answer is no, you may consider reflecting on the leaders you report to, your department, workplace environment, climate, school, structures and systems to think about how these influence your why.

· Take time to ask yourself, “What is in my control and influence and what is not?” Once you identify what is in your control, prioritize your why and elevate your voice to continue doing the work that feeds your intrinsic values of being in education.

· If topics are draining your Why, consider reflecting with other educators and peers to find solutions. Sometimes the solution may be switching schools or teaching at a different level (elementary, middle, high, adapted physical education). Sometimes, it may look like stepping up more in a leadership role within your department, school, or district. Sometimes, this may look like stepping back from some roles.

No matter where you are, knowing your Why for being in education and reflecting on it regularly is an important strategy for keeping yourself aligned and fueling your intrinsic motivation to serve in education.

Photo 1: My 2022/23 PETE cohort – preservice teachers. Photo 2: My APE, HE, PE central office team – Curriculum & Instruction. Photo 3: Student teaching.

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 Dr. Cara Grant, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of

Pair this blog post with the following:

My Why by Charlie Rizzuto

Being A Champion by Vickie Merrick

Finding Their Swish by Judy LoBianco

Have you read the latest Book of the Month recommendation?

2 thoughts on “Know Your Why

  1. Pingback: What You Water Grows – #slowchathealth

  2. Pingback: Developing Leaders in Health Advocacy – #slowchathealth

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