Creating a Culture of Caring in Health and Physical Education: It’s on YOU

Last week, I had an engaging Voxer chat with my friend and fellow educator Brian Devore about the power of caring.

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about what continues to matter most for health and physical educators — and education in general.

It’s caring.

Caring about each and every student is what really makes a difference.

The Power of Caring

In her 2018 TEDx Talk, veteran educator Lisa Mims examines “The Power of a Caring Educator,” sharing what happens in classrooms where students know their teacher cares.

Mims has learned that when teachers make the effort to connect with students, students are more willing to take a risk and try their hardest.

“It’s difficult for students to care if we don’t,” she says.

As a health and PE supervisor, I’m tired of trying to reach those teachers who aren’t making the effort: the disengaged, the tired, the DONE.

And although we often voice concern across our country about class sizes, I sometimes wonder if as a supervisor I would rather have one loving, caring teacher in my schools who has a class of 60 kids and connects with every one of them — or be content with three teachers with 20 students each who don’t care about what they’re doing, don’t get to know their students, and are only interested in making their job as easy as possible.

When Teachers Care, Students Learn

In his recently published New York Times column, “Students Learn From People They Love,” David Brooks writes about putting relationship quality at the very center of education.

He references neuroscience research that shows how critical emotions are in relation to learning and includes a link to the Aspen Institute’s recent national commission report, From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope, which highlights the importance of addressing children’s social and emotional needs, not just their academic needs.

This summer, SHAPE America’s all-new Professional Learning Institute (July 31-August 1) will explore social and emotional learning in health and physical education. Participants will learn new ways to teach and assess SEL skills in the health, physical education and physical activity setting. I hope you’ll make plans to attend!

Since February is traditionally “heart” month, let’s remember to celebrate that spirit … by leading with our heart. Let’s think about and plan to put children first so we can all create a culture of caring.

Judy LoBianco

President of SHAPE America from 2018-2019.