Many people have opinions about what makes a teacher great. So I imagine this topic will generate a few comments . . .
Specifically I would like to address what attributes make a superb PE teacher?
(One hint: it is nota whistle!)
There are many attributes of great teachers. I would like to narrow it down to what I believe are the three most essential attributes of a superb PE teacher. Since three points determine a plane. Let us call these three attributes the ones that define a “plane of enlightened teaching.”
1. Knowledge of subject (and how it can be mastered)
2. Passion for subject
3. Concern for others
The first attribute is the most obvious because one must be able to competently describe a physical activity in order to teach it. I would not say however that one needs to be a Miguel Cabrera to show someone how to bat, or bea Calvin Johnson, Jr to show how a catch a football, or even be a Jimmy Howard to show how to protect a net. I would not say any of those things as much as I would say one needs to be an Albert Einstein to explain physics to an AP class. The gift of the superb teacher is in the ability to appropriately describe and demonstrate how to do something given the skills and circumstances of the learner. It is the superb teacher that realizes not everyone learns the same way and can assist anyone in the manner by which a subject may be mastered. The superb teacher knows how best to convey the essential information to direct understanding with the appropriate progressions and refinements that place the learner in a zone of proximal development. Moreover this is accomplished in such a way that it convinces the student that the teacher not only knows the subject but possesses at least two other attributes of enlightened teaching as well.
A second attribute is a passion for the subject. There are so many inspirational stories in the world of sports such as Dick Hoyt, who pushes his son, Rick Hoyt in marathon and triathlon races. Fortunately I have been privileged to have competed in events with individuals who overcame life threatening disabilities and will never cease to be amazed by their courage. I look forward to the Special Olympics 2014 national games that will take place in New Jersey. The truth is when a teacher is enthusiastic about a subject then that belief will be not be lost upon most students. Enthusiasm is uplifting and contagious. Superb teachers model this type of behavior that will enable and engage more students to connect. These connections become widespread particularly if athletic and healthy well-being passions are shared with other areas of interest to students as is the case with integrated curricular activities.
The third attribute is a concern for others. A superb teacher sets high expectations for all students. They expect that all students can and will achieve in their classes, and they don't give up on underachievers. They have a strong relationship with them that models good behavior. A superb teacher “walks the talk” because they expect their students to be prepared since they are prepared and organized to deliver clear, written-out objectives and lesson plans. A superb teacher must have strong interpersonal skills to communicate and be able to help each and every student get the most out of the learning experience. In addition a superb teacher acts to protect students as if they were their own children especially in times of danger. There are constant reminders of superb teachers in the news such as Becky Jo Evans from Plaza Towers elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma and Victoria Soto from Sandy Hook elementary in Newton, Connecticut to name a couple.
Teachers are foremost learners particularly in the art of teaching and therefore I welcome your comments.