"Identifying Your Niche and Loving What You Do" by Jason Steele

As I start this guest blog for Pete I have to admit, I am a smidge intimidated and a little bit out of my comfort zone. Although I love to talk, just ask anyone who knows me, I have never been one to sit down and write what I thought or felt about a certain topic or situation. If you want to talk about education, sports, fishing, hunting or anything of general interest to me I would say that I am comfortable talking with pretty much everyone.

When Pete asked me write a guest blog for his site I was extremely excited and of course I took him up on his offer, but almost immediately an overwhelming feeling came over me. How could I say no? Pete Charrette is a powerhouse PE teacher and his resources are exceptional. He has an amazing ability to take activities and turn them into solid gold with his imagination and creativity. Many of the activities that I do on a daily basis have been inspired by his work. But what would I write about? Why would anyone want to read what I have to say? These couple of questions kept rattling around in my mind.

The truth is this, I LOVE teaching and I LOVE where and how I teach. However, I think most of us, me included, are always wondering if what we are teaching is having an impact in the lives of our students. I have been teaching Physical Education at Perkett Elem. in Minot, ND for the past 11 years. Many of my first years of teaching were spent trying to find what I thought were ‘cool’ ways to provide meaningful lessons and teach students the importance of a lifetime of physical activity. I was able to have fun with students and I had a good rapport with them, but I thought that was all we needed.

This being said, not all of my time was well spent. I was what I would call a ‘good-lazy’ teacher. I was a good teacher and I was able to teach students what I felt they needed to be taught. However, my work day was 8:30-4 and that was it. Rarely did I put in extra work, I never attended conferences, I wasn’t involved in professional associations and I was reluctant to take advice from other teachers. I thought I had it all figured out and I was on easy street to retirement. I had my units, lessons and activities and they were as good as they were going to get. I feel students enjoyed my class, but I didn’t put much effort into my activities and lessons. Once I found an activity that my students and I enjoyed, that was it, it stayed and continued to make an appearance in my lessons. My year plan and lessons at the beginning of my teaching career were virtually the same in year 9, which lead to boredom and repetitiveness for my students and myself. In the back of my mind I knew that I had to make a change but I wasn’t sure how to start.

Then something amazing happened that pushed me to make a change. I discovered the world of Twitter. I was in a school professional development breakout session on Twitter and to entertain myself while sitting in the back row with my coffee I started searching for physical education teachers. I was blown away at the physical education community that I discovered and the things that were available to me. I couldn’t believe what was being shared and how many amazing educators were willing to lend a hand.

I started sharing and interacting with others on Twitter, I was addicted and still am to this day! I found so many other amazing teachers on Twitter and I was able to learn and grow from what they were doing. I started developing new and exciting units, lessons and activities and sharing them with others. Every unit and lesson I had was revamped. I fell in love with making visually appealing and exciting activities for myself and others to use, and thus, fell more in love with teaching PE and found my niche in the PE world. I love being able to take a run-of-the-mill, generic PE lesson and add in a colorful and visual twist with either a funny poster, video or handout.

The irony of my so called “turn-around” is that I am scheduled to

present the exact session at our next school professional development day. I have since started advocating more for PE. I attended my first NDSHAPE conference, I will attend my first CD SHAPE Conference at the end of January and participated in many educational Twitter chats. I am now proud to say that I am an NDSHAPE board member, presenter and

#ndpechat moderator.

So much has happened for me in the last 2 years because of my renewed love for teaching PE. I have met many teachers on Twitter that I would call my friends, even though I have never met most of them. I look forward to growing as an educator, meeting other fantastic people and lending a hand to others along the way.

To echo the words of Justin Weise from the guest blog of Tanner Roos, “I want to look back and say I taught 35 years one time, instead of one year 35 times.”

Jason Steele @PerkettPE is an elementary PE teacher for the Minot Public School District in Minot, North Dakota. Jason has taught at Perkett Elementary School in Minot for 11 years. He attended Minot State University and is currently enrolled at the University of Jamestown for his Master's degree. Jason enjoys time with his family and any chance he gets to fish, golf or hunt.

Come find Jason at the SHAPE America Central District Conference in Sioux Falls, SD at the end of January and make sure you tune in monthly during his #ndpechat Twitter chat.

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