How to ‘Make a Difference’ Through Health and Physical Education

I have been a health and physical education teacher for more than 40 years and I know — using simple observation and some narrative feedback — that I am “making a difference” for my students and their families.

Here are some of the steps I’ve taken over the years to have the biggest impact as a health and physical education teacher:

  • Teach fundamental skills using standards/assessments — Movement theory indicates people will engage in activity and stay active if they have some degree of mastery and autonomy, and if they see purpose for that particular activity. By teaching fundamental skills and implementing standards/assessments in our teaching process, we as teachers increase the probability that students will stay active.
  • Integrate class activities with other curricula — Move your PE program to the front of the line in your school — don’t settle for it being an “add-on” subject! Support your school’s PBIS initiative, as well as fire safety, anti-bullying, math and language initiatives, and school seasonal themes with specific, related activities within your classroom. Seek out ways to get involved; don’t wait for them to come to you.
  • Emphasize PE/PA in and out of the classroom — Take the opportunity to connect local, state and national events into your classes as a way to promote PE/PA. Engage students and families in walks, runs, and other activities that benefit charities or community groups. Conduct Super Bowl or Olympic events within PE and/or have students engage outside of class and have them journal about what they have done for extra credit (collaborate with the Language teacher).
  • Develop and implement parent-child activity events — Be involved whenever possible in all school events and showcase HPE. Link to math/language night with a physical activity and participate at seasonal theme events.
  • Infuse health education — Provide nutritional conceptual learning related to your classroom activities. Be a personal role model for students and staff. Advise the PTA and other volunteers that they can offer fruit, cheese and granola instead of sugary cookies as snacks for the event. I have been told that implementing my “Lunch N Learn” program with my Head Start class has helped in the choice of snacks that parents send with children.
  • Develop community partnerships — Many local businesses will share resources other than just cash donations if you ask (“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”). Our hospital donated helmets and money for our 50 Million program, and we’ve also received support from Home Depot, a local furniture company, an apple orchard, and service club grants.
  • Extend learning into the community — Go to the next level by advocating for health and physical education within the greater community. Service clubs often need speakers — take the opportunity to educate them. Get involved in SHAPE America and state associations. Advocate through social media and participate whenever with your school administration and board. If they don’t ask you, seek them out! They “don’t know what they don’t know” unless you politely tell them. Share photos of kids in action (be sure to obtain permission) because a picture is worth a thousand words.
teachers helping students gear up to climb on a rock wall

Take HPE to the Next Level With health. moves. minds.™

Starting this fall, there’s an additional step to add to the list — integrate SHAPE America’s new service-learning program, health. moves. minds.

With health. moves. minds., educators can teach kids to thrive physically and emotionally while raising money for health and physical education through the program’s fundraising component. It’s a way for teachers to create physical and health literacy for students — and to show that as teachers, students and families, we are stronger together.

Read about some of the schools that have implemented health. moves. minds. and then share your success stories!

Health Move Minds Yoga Pose

Action Steps for Health and Physical Education Teachers 

To truly make a difference for our nation’s students, we need committed educators who are willing to take those extra steps in their everyday teaching — and their interactions within their school and community.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Join SHAPE America and your state affiliate organization
  2. Make sure your teaching reflects best practices and follow national standards
  3. Support the development of a comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP)
  4. Involve families in events
  5. Offer learning sessions outside the classroom that also include health concepts
  6. Connect with other educators through SHAPE America and on social media
  7. Showcase/share successful programs
  8. Advocate for health and physical education (within your school, community and district — and at the state and national levels)

Although I have taught for many years, I do not claim to have all the answers. I am proud to be a lifelong member of SHAPE America and WHPE because this has served to help me become a better teacher. The suggestions offered above are a result of collegial collaboration, trial and error, and both success and failure — always with an emphasis of striving to do more for students and families.

Additional Resources

Kris Fritz

Kris Fritz is a Sheboygan, WI School District retired South High HPE professional currently facilitating a Pre-K (ages 3-5) PE program at the Early Learning Center. She is an active member of SHAPE America and WHPE (Wisconsin Health and Physical Education) and is past president of SHAPE America Midwest District. She can be reached at