Resistant to Rockstar: How to Create a Quality PE Program With Resistant Staff

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We first met each other in 2018 after being named SHAPE America District High School Physical Education Teachers of the Year. As we got to know one another at various Teacher of the Year events, we realized that although we were currently being honored for teaching excellence, we both had struggled at the beginning of our careers.

The reason? We both had veteran teachers within our physical education departments who were hesitant to try new things.

It’s hard to create a quality PE program when your colleagues are resistant to change.

A Widespread Problem

After giving a Teacher of the Year presentation at the 2019 SHAPE America National Convention in Tampa, we heard from some peers who provided feedback on our session.

The responses below are real people expressing real concerns about their school, department, or co-workers:

  • “How do I work with old school PE teachers? They do great things yet are so hesitant to try new games and activities.”
  • “My staff all work together and play the same games. How can we use our talents to better serve our students?”
  • “My coworkers have many years of teaching experience and naturally lead the environment. How can I start sharing the lead role?”
  • “It seems that my coworkers use large group instruction in order to take extra planning periods or to make coaching plans. What should I do?”

We can definitely relate and have personally dealt with some of the same concerns ourselves! 

Students riding reclining bicycles

5 Tips for Positive Change

After careful thought and discussion, we agreed that change is only possible within our schools, districts, and departments if we take certain steps.

Here are 5 tips for building a quality PE program when you have resistant colleagues:

  1. Be a great teammate.
    Having great teammates often means being a great teammate first. That’s because sometimes it takes the belief of another person to light the fire of “resistant” educator.
  2. Find each other’s strengths.
    Everyone brings something to the table — you just have to discover what that is!
  3. Collaborate.
    Collaboration is a great tool for creating a rockstar educator! You don’t have to recreate the wheel, sometimes you just have to make it roll in your direction! We need to work together to do what’s best for the kids!
  4. Try new things.
    Keeping an open mind and trying new lessons and units can be a great way to rejuvenate even the most resistant educator.
  5. Stay connected.
    Staying connected is perhaps the most important tip. It’s vitally important to keep your curriculum current and stay connected to the community surrounding your school. Constantly growing as an educator through professional development and self-reflection is the key to being motivated and challenged.
Students and instructors utilizing punching bags

Resistant to Rockstar at #SHAPESLC

If you can relate to some of the problems mentioned above, be sure to attend our Resistant to Rockstar session at the 2020 SHAPE America National Convention in Salt Lake City!

Come collaborate and get some great problem-solving solutions for your specific situation!  During our session, we plan to find people with like situations and come up with solutions and ideas to move your program forward!

We’ll share the ideas and concepts that have worked for us — and you’ll have plenty of time to collaborate with others and share the obstacles that are currently keeping your program at a resistant level. Then, you can learn how to bring it to rockstar!

I'm a Presenter badge for SHAPE America National Convention & Expo 2020

Additional Resources


Erika Mundt
Erika Mundt

Erika Mundt has taught physical education at Iowa City West High School for eight years. Her specialty is incorporating fitness skills into PE courses, specifically strength training. Erika is an assistant basketball coach and enjoys being active with her young sons. In 2018 she was named SHAPE America National High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year. You can follow her on Twitter @MundtPE and find additional resources on her website.

Sabra Collins
Sabra Collins

Sabra Collins taught physical education at Caesar Rodney High School for over nine years before moving to the Delaware Department of Education, where she is the education associate for Physical Education, Health and Wellness. Sabra was a field hockey coach for 10 seasons, was named SHAPE America Eastern District High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2018 and Caesar Rodney School District Teacher of the Year in 2019. She enjoys being outside and playing with her kids.