Change the Game: Learner-Centered Approaches to Teaching PE

Changing the game in physical education is a commitment to upgrading the experiences we offer students in Physical Education. All kids deserve to be physically educated in an environment that promotes physical, psychological, social, and cognitive growth and safety. I want to live in a world where every child feels empowered to move, has a sense of belonging within our world’s deep, interconnected movement culture, and develops a healthy concept of their identity as an active person. While ambitious, I believe in this pursuit. Together, we can change the game.

3 Ways to Change the Game in Physical Education 

  1. Create a Community: Student-teacher relationships are the heartbeat of meaningful learning in physical education. Changing the game means developing trusting relationships with all students. Unlocking student motivation and engagement begins with creating a classroom climate of inclusivity, belonging, and equity. 

Game Changers

  • Develop classroom agreements with students.
  • Seek to understand their identities and experiences.
  • Teach cooperation, leadership, and empathy.
  1. Adopt a Learner-Centered Pedagogy: Rethinking how we teach our curriculum is also game-changing. Putting the learner experience at the center of our decision-making process is the key to designing experiences that students will find meaningful. The authors of Meaningful PE endorse democratic and reflective approaches to teaching, which means designing experiences where students make decisions about their participation, develop agency over their process, and reflect on the impact of their learning. This approach prioritizes personally relevant engagement instead of compliance.

Game Changers

  • Commit to listening to your learners and adjust your strategies to meet their needs.
  • Provide choices for engaging in activities and demonstrating learning.
  • Facilitate reflection on skill development, game experience, peer interactions, and so much more. 
  1. Commit to Reflective Practices: Hindsight is 20/20. We’ve all finished teaching a lesson and immediately thought about the five things we wish we had done differently. Developing your reflective muscles and creating systems to organize your reflection will promote your growth as an educator for the years to come. A good teacher is a reflective teacher. 

Game Changers

  • Process your practice through a critical lens.
  • Find creative solutions to your problems of practice.
  • Evolve your teaching methods by staying engaged in your professional growth.

In the wake of the SHAPE America conference in Seattle, I feel a sense of pride, hope, and excitement for the future of PE. I attended many sessions that taught participants the why and the how of engagement, not compliance. I heard the words ‘Meaningful PE’ more than I can count. It’s working, and it’s spreading. A few years ago, the path to more democratic and reflective approaches seemed abstract. The trailblazers who authored and many gifted educators who adopted the methods and mindsets described in the Meaningful PE book have marked a path for us to follow. I am thrilled to see the breadth and depth of learner-centered practices emerging in classrooms worldwide. My affinity for Meaningful PE grows each year, and I am committed to learning more about systems that change the game for students. 

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 Jordan Manley, 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:

How to Facilitate Deeper Connections to Physical Activity by Jordan Manley

Aligning to a Social Emotional Lens in Physical Education by Jordan Manley

How Well Do We Teach Emotional Wellness? by Andy Horne

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