Monthly Archives: February 2018

NJ AHPERD Convention 2018

This was a whirlwind of a few days. My wife’s uncle died rather suddenly at the age of 76. Death is never far from my thoughts or life as I clearly remind you the reader of this incessantly. The viewing was Friday and the funeral was on Saturday. I then packed up and drove to the convention Sunday just in time to set up the powerpoint and A/V for the NJ AHPERD awards banquet. I was woefully underdressed not throwing any of my “good clothes” (not wrinkled) clothes in the bag.

The awards ceremony was nice. I had the utmost honor in watching Erik Meyer receive his Elementary Teacher of the Year Award as well as Chris Bacarella receiving the Distinguished Leadership Award. I value both of these people because they are genuinely nice people as well as extremely competent in what they do. It always makes my day go better when I engage with either of these fine individuals. Congratulations to you both!

The best part of every conference is meeting the people you have invested time and energy with in person. Sunday night Nick Endlich drove three hours in order to join along for the journey. We had fun catching up with legends like Jo Bailey and Nick Kline. The list of people I follow and engage with on Twitter in attendance is too extensive to list. I saw Judy Lobianco and hugged her with the enthusiasm that only Judy Lobianco can elicit. I had a lively conversation with SHAPE President Fran Cleland about the test pilot of a new national program. Here is the description of their new program:

“The test will measure the attainment of the National Standards for Physical Education which are critical to the healthy development of children and youth, including the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. The new assessment will be known as the National Assessment for Health & Physical Education, and will be powered by AIR Assessment’s online testing and reporting platform.” Link

What other state conference has the National SHAPE President and President-Elect and Jo Bailey?! Not so humble brag my conference brings it!

The first session I attended was Lynn Hefele’s session on How to Use Your Noodle. Lynn’s session was wonderful! She had some cool ideas that were so simple you thought to yourself why haven’t I been doing this all along? My favorite games were trying to hit a soccer ball with a pool noodle that was being dribbled or passed. Another game I enjoyed was attempting to disrupt a bean bag from being successfully tossed to a partner by swatting it with a noodle out of the air. I am always amazed by teachers who can show me things that are simple and fantastic. Lynn’s style was engaging and quite humorous. Lynn also writes children’s stories that she incorporates into her class. That is next level.

I split my next sessions going between Jo Bailey and Liz Burkhart. Liz’s ideas on how to teach self-growth and empowerment were cool. The idea of enjoying the journey and not the destination jibes well with both our philosophies. If we do not target the Social and Emotional parts of our students we are missing the boat.

Jo Bailey is a legend. She saved my life. Her presentation was typical Jo Bailey. I came, I learned, I was conquered. There is nothing like seeing a master at her craft. I do not use those words lightly. Her ability to delivery quality activities time after time is second to none. We went on scavenger hunts, put together puzzles, assessed how we felt about our skill level using various equipment, and put in participant choice and voice. Jo keeps you engaged by her enthusiasm and smile. She is one of the best in the profession and kudos to NJ AHPERD for bringing her back again this year.

I was bummed to have missed Doug Hallberg’s session. Nick Endlich has raved about it but we ended up having a PS AHPERD and NJ AHPERD meeting that I was unaware of.

I came back in time to watch Karen Petermann run her session. She had a boatload of activities and uttered a phrase that made me shine with delight. Her phrase was, “A personal IEP with Mrs. P.” That was perhaps the most brilliant thing said in any session I heard all day.

I finished up my day presenting Iterations of Game Play with Nicholas Endlich. I was a little nervous about it because of how many people could possibly be in our session. It turned out I had 18 participants. Have you ever heard the saying it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog? We had only one person who sat the whole session. The participants had a blast! I knew it was gonna be fun when they asked if we could continue to play Nick’s game instead of moving on to the next slide. This was the perfect opportunity to show them what shared power looks like. We could have ignored the comment and gone on instead I recognized that they were here to learn and enjoy themselves. They continued to play and have fun.

Our session showed three different activities and how to use the idea of builds or scaffold our instruction that allowed the students to end up driving the instruction. Hopefully, we impressed upon them the ideas of TGFU, builds, and the importance of creating that positive association with the movement.

I will close with my Grows and Glows of the day:

Glow: Registration and t-shirt booth ran smoothly and efficiently.

Grow: We should not limit access for people to enter the NJ AHPERD Conference. We should never be our own barrier to entry.

Glow: The presenters. Kudos for the QPE champions you bring in.

Glow: My participants. You rocked. If you were a wet blankets my session was doomed. You made my time as a presenter thoroughly enjoyable.

Glow: Ross Chakrian. It was a pleasure to meet you and I appreciate you coming to my session.

Glow: The five dollar food voucher offered!! What a great idea!

Glow: Jacks

Glow: Balloons at the keynote. Guess who was hitting them during the announcements?

Glow: Getting to know my Executive Board better.

Glow: Dillon. Philosophy and all.



Time is Money

Time is always pressing on my mind. The ever-present knowledge that death is right around the corner never quite leaves me. My time, our time, your time, is limited. Time means different things to different people. We want to get paid for our time. How much we demand varies. I work at a liquor store and get paid close to minimum wage. I am the assistant director of a summer camp and I get double that. I organize games and activities for birthday parties at my summer camp and get triple that. I teach and get about five times that. Yet I go to EdCamps, Coffe Edu, and create or participate in multiple online professional developments and get zero times that. This blog you are reading costs me time yet I get monetarily compensated nothing for it. You can hire me to run professional development at your school anywhere in the world and that costs a separate amount of money.

Money in relation to time is arbitrary. I had a conversation with a gentleman who told me he presents for free yet he has a teacher pays teacher account where he charges teachers for his creations. He chooses which time he spends should be compensated for. Make no mistake though, he gets paid for his time. Another friend of mine charges for his presentations yet creates Ebooks, a blog, and runs a program that benefits other teachers professional development without being compensated for his time. He also chooses where his time is worth money. Is either of them wrong? I would argue they are both right. WE get to determine how much our time is worth. If the time is not worth the money we stop doing whatever is sucking up our time.

Time as money varies based on the circumstances. I had a company ask me to present at a conference during a school day. I quoted them a price. The company said it was too high. A woman who had no business being in the conversation made a comment about how much I had quoted to that company. After making sure she understood that this was none of her business I explained how taking off a day to deliver professional development is one less day that I can take off to spend with my son at donuts with dad. It is one less day that I can go to meet the artist with my daughter. Being out negatively effects my students as well. I declined to give them my time because that school time holds a higher value to me. Another aspect of this time-money circumstance is that if the conference was on a weekend I may have presented for free.

How we perceive time varies. I live and die for old man basketball. I have turned down many pleasurable alternatives in order to experience the fun and joy of basketball. I have played for hours without realizing three hours had zipped by. I have also sat through an hour of professional development that felt like days. Remember when we were kids? Five minutes felt like an hour! Time is fluid. Now five minutes feels like 30 seconds!! My grandfather jokingly says everytime he picks up the newspaper it is the Sunday edition.

Our perceptions of time varies. I don’t have the time to value your feelings as much as you do. That is a harsh truth of mine. I need to do what I feel is right. This may be saying something that goes against what you are about. It may hurt you. Then again it may not. I don’t waste large amounts of my time worrying about what others will think or say of my words and actions. With this being said I don’t attempt to harm others. I do not attack people personally nor do I engage in actions that purposefully harm others. I have to operate within my moral framework as well as my limited time framework. They sometimes but heads. This may also be the reason that I don’t have a boatload of friends. (I am somewhat self-aware)

We don’t value time. I am a busy person and I still waste some of my time. This bothers me. Coach Feis and Mr. Beigel were teachers in Parkland Florida. They both gave up their lives protecting children. They had no idea their time was so limited. How would they have valued their time if they knew how limited it was? What would they have changed? We only value time once we realize we have a finite time left. This happens with a cancer diagnosis, a colleague or a close family member dies, or something catastrophic like a school shooting happens. Suddenly time becomes more valuable. We realize how petty our lives were and how we ignored what is really important to us.

What is bizarre is that my school is currently in negotiations. We have been without a new contract for a while. This happens everywhere. The strange part is that if a gunman (aka white male with mental issues) came in we would be expected to put ourselves in their way in order to protect the children. This would severely limit my time on the planet. Suddenly my time becomes very valuable, doesn’t it? How does that factor into negotiations?

This blog is meant to create more questions than answers. I am not attacking anyone who charges for anything. I charge people for my time and feel zero guilt for it. What I do want to happen is for you to question where do you spend your time. How much are you being compensated for it? Compensation is not always money. I understand that and don’t feel that is our motivation for most things. I also believe that money can buy us time in some cases. This is where I value money. Also paying my bills is cool. Spend a little time thinking about where you spend your time and how are you being compensated for it?

Finally, value you your time. While it may be worth nothing to someone else your time is invaluable to you, your family, and your friends. Make use of the time you have. As the great Jarrod Robinson once told me, “I don’t think people really put enough time and attention into harnessing their time as effectively as they could. It is just an afterthought instead of prioritizing what is the most important to them.” I personally don’t want to look back and think I wasted my time. It’s time to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Psychological First Aid 4 Schools (PFA-S)

This blog is based on a real conversation I had with a high school physical education teacher. The details I am recounting may not be exact but the overall story is similar enough for the purpose of this blog. I will be telling the story in the first person as if I was the teacher in this scenario. Let me be clear. This is a real story that happened to a real teacher. We need to learn more about what to do if we are in this position ourselves.

During this blog I am going to give some general advice as to what to do if you are in this situation. This advice is secondary to whatever protocol your school has set up. Some schools have mental health plans and a very detailed system of what to do in these cases. That procedure needs to be followed. I would also like to state that unless you are trained you should not be counseling or giving the student advice if they have experienced trauma. That is best left up to those with professional training.

I hear the all call paging Julia (not her real name). I taught her last year and know she has some hiding spots near the gym where she goes when she needs some time for herself. I start walking to one of them when I find her. She is jittery and in an excited state. I tell her we have to go to the office when she blurts out, “I was molested by my sister’s roomate this weekend and everyone is talking about it.”

I froze. What do I do? What do I say? Luckily for me she just started babbling and everything just came out. I didn’t have time to say anything which is good because I didn’t know what to say or do. I was able to walk Julia to the office after she was initially reluctant to go. I sent a text to my principal that Julia was with me and we were making our way to the office. On the way she told me she had broken a clock in one classroom, slammed a door in another classroom, and did something else destructive in a third classroom. Eventually she had curled up in a ball under a table in the art room.

Julia also showed me her hand that was black and blue from punching the individual who sexually assaulted her. When we got to the office, both the administrator and school police officer were waiting for us to arrive. Julia told me everyone was talking about it and knew about it so I assumed that word traveled quickly and administration was looking for her to get her help.

Immediately, the destruction was brought up before we even had two steps into the room. I quickly realized my administration had absolutely no clue as to what occurred to Julia. Realizing this, I motioned for my principal to step out for a second. Thankfully, the direction of my administrators approach immediately changed as my principal said ‘I need to place a call to Childline’ once I informed her of what Julia had told me. However, I was not a part of the meeting as Julia assured me she was okay being alone when I asked her if she wanted me to stay with her prior to entering the office.

After informing my principal, a counselor was called and an investigation was opened by the police. The next thing I felt was that I was dismissed with no further actions to take, left out of the loop and not there for a student that confided in me. I felt like I had failed my former student in not being there through every step of the way when they were comfortable enough to confide in me.

Most of us have not been trained for a situation like this. I asked a school social worker and she told me about this idea of Psychological First Aid for Schools (PFA-S). Some of you may be thinking that you are teachers and not social workers or psychologists. This is true. PFA-S is NOT psychotherapy, counseling, or debriefing.

PFA-S is most effective immediately following the incident (e.g., from one hour to a couple of weeks after an event). In some circumstances, assuming the safety of students and staff has been ensured, PFA-S can be initiated while an incident is still occurring, such as in sheltered-in-place or lockdown situations. Because it is not psychotherapy, an extended “treatment,” or a stand-alone mental health intervention, any staff member, regardless of whether he/she has had mental health training, can deliver aspects of PFA-S and can contribute to the school recovery by functioning within the PFA framework. link

Here is a chart of the basics of PFA-S:



Let’s refer back to the story about the teacher and Julia. The teacher met most of these objectives naturally. They remained calm in the situation and connected the student to a counselor that could assist them. During the interview of the social worker the idea that we must remain calm during these situations was stressed over and over again. People feed off of the energy of others. If the teacher had become agitated and nervous Julia would have fed off of that. She would not have been calm enough to go to the office.

I have been trained in deescalation. Remaining calm is the biggest pillars of deescalation. The adult needs to be the rock. They must remain calm no matter what is going on around them. This is a difficult thing to do. How many teachers push in harder when students get agitated in the classroom? It becomes a battle of wills and power. Each side escalating the situation until either the student is sent out or they leave in a rage. When teachers lose their zen they lose control of the situation.

One question the teacher had was what were they supposed to do once they escorted the student to the office. The social worker I interviewed gave the advice that they should ask the administrator in charge if they could stay with the student. If they were given permission they could then go ask the student if they wanted the teacher to remain with them while the counselor or police took over the situation. If the administrator denied the request the teacher has no alternative but to leave.

One important step to remember is that everything that happened should be documented! Every school should have incident reports that need to be filled out. This protects the teacher, makes sure the right protocol, and allows the student to get the help they needed. The teacher should make a copy of the report for themselves in case they need to refer back to it in the future.

The hardest part of this scenario is what should the teacher do after they get the student help especially if that student is not in their class. The teacher in this situation has a prep and a lunch that doesn’t match with the students lunch period or study hall and they take the bus to and from school. There is no chance for the teacher to personally follow up with student. The advice I was given by the social worker was for the teacher to contact the parent/guardian if they wanted to see how the child was advancing. I personally would attempt to cross paths with the student and let them know that I appreciated them opening up to me and that I hoped they were getting the help they needed. I would not cross any boundaries and would make sure that any contact was documented to protect everyone.

I would like to state again that I am not a mental health expert. Like anything else I write do the work on your own. Research what your school has in place for situations like this. Ask your school counselors what they recommend. What I do know is that being prepared for a situation like this can only benefit you and your students.


Celebrate our Girls & Women in Sports

This week we have guest blogger Tanner Roos (@mrRoosPE). 3

There are special days, weeks or months for all sorts of things.  For example, National Physical Education and Sport Week is May 1-7.  I might make a social media post about it or do something fun in class, but a week later I will have already moved on to the next thing.  However, I don’t think we can move on so fast from February 7.  That’s when we celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day.  We take the time to reflect on how important girls and women are in the sporting world.  We make sure to really encourage girls and women to take part in something active.  But why is it one day a year?  Why don’t we make girls and women in sports a priority all the time?  We really should.

Did you know that in 2017 only 52% of school-aged girls play organized sports?  That’s quite a bit lower than the 66% of boys in the same age range. (1)  Why do you think that is?  As a physical educator, what can you do to influence those numbers?  I ask myself similar questions often when I can’t figure out why only 20% of my morning intramural program is young girls.  I always assumed it was because the group of students just wasn’t interested.  As I researched more, I found out that probably wasn’t the reason.

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation (2) some of the main reasons that girls and women drop out of sports include lack of access, safety and transportation issues and a lack of positive role models.  Did you know that girls have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than boys have?  The limited opportunities cause girls to have to look elsewhere to join a team.  Often there are not local teams available or the added cost deters them from participating.  Take a minute and think about the local youth sports programs that you know about.  Are girls having the same opportunities as boys?  The high school feeder baseball team my sons played on this summer had boys as young as five years old on the 7u team.  The same high school feeder softball program won’t even have a place for my daughter until she plays 8u.  That’s three years less of opportunities she will have compared to her male siblings.

In dense urban environments, traveling through unsafe neighborhoods to get to the facility is quite common.  If there is a local facility, it’s often too far to walk.  It’s suggested that if carpooling isn’t an available option, the safest option could be to drop out and stay home.  I think about all the students at my elementary school that want to join running club or intramurals, but the long walk across the dangerous road keeps them home.  It’s probably the same problem they will face when they have a chance to be involved in middle or high school athletics.  It breaks my heart to know that there are girls that want join an organized sports program, but safety is preventing them signing up.

Lastly, the lack of positive role models has been one of the main reasons that girls drop out of sports.  Although the Women’s Sports Foundations discusses how the media features external beauty rather than confident and athletic women as role models; I’m going to look at it from another perspective.

In a study of nearly 6000 children’s books published during the 20th century, 57% are written with males as the main character; compare that to just 31% female.  Even books written about animals have a gender imbalance.  23% of books feature male main characters; whereas only 7% are female animals. (3)  Where are our strong, confident female children’s book characters?  Television is a problem too.  For almost 20 years, ESPN’s most popular show SportsCenter has been devoting a tiny 2% of their programming to women’s sports. (4)  If our daughters and students don’t have access to positive stories about athletic girls being successful, what thoughts are we putting in their brains?  Do we really want little girls thinking that only boys can be confident, strong leaders?  I know that’s not the story I want to tell.

Fortunately, there are authors like Shelly-Boyum-Breen (@SportShelly) who tries to balance these sad statistics.  The saddest of them all is that only 1% of children’s books feature a lead female sports character.  Her children’s book series called Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, is refreshing to read. (5)  Shelly Bean, although fictional, can be a positive, athletic role model for our youth.  Where else are our female students going to read about a girl, like them, learning to play new sports and having fun getting the hang of it?  It teaches a good lesson for young boys as well.

When I asked Shelly Boyum-Breen why she is passionate about girls and women in sports, here is how she responded.  “Participating in sports, not necessarily being great, taught me many life lessons. I learned how to be humble. I learned how to push myself physically and mentally.  I learned what it took to be an effective leader. I learned how to be a contributing member of a team as well as how to receive feedback. I learned how to win and I learned how to lose. In fact, I lost more games in my life than I ever won.  All of these life lessons are used on a daily basis in my career and in my personal life.  We also know from research that girls who participate in sports are more likely to be successful in the classroom They are more likely to be active later in adulthood. They are less likely to stay in abusive relationships or experience an unwanted pregnancy. And we know that physical activity reduces stress and increases bone density just to name a few more benefits.  As a Breaking Barriers Award winner for the Minnesota National Girls and Women in Sports Day, I have met dozens of women and men who have come before me to increase opportunities for girls to play for these very reasons and every day, I want to be giving back as well. We need to #keepherinthegame because we know she’s worth it.”

By now, I think I’ve made my point.  I hope by now you are looking to make a change somehow.  It’s unlikely that you can’t get ESPN to show more highlights of the LPGA Tour, but there are things you can do locally.  Have you had an intentional conversation with your students about the benefits of organized sports outside of school?  Here is a good place to start.  According to women and girls who participate in sports have higher grades than students who don’t. They also have lower dropout and teen pregnancy rates.  Additionally, women and girls who participate in sports are less likely to use drugs and more likely to graduate college. (6)  How about taking a closer look at how you set up your school athletic programs.  Could changes be made there?

Right away I know I need to do something different with my intramural program.  What does your intramural program look like?  It is coed?  Mine is, and it’s not working.  This week we had nearly 30 students attend.  Of those 30, only six were female.  I have to ask myself if changing how I set up my program would increase female participation.  Besides having girls one day and boys another, maybe I should consider what activities we focus on.  A well thought out survey of my students could identify program flaws.  I’m not sure what needs to change, but doing nothing isn’t going to increase the percentage of girls that participate in organized sports.

Now it’s your turn to keep the conversation going.  Many of the readers will want to hear your ideas.  Log on to Twitter, follow the hashtag #slowchatPEgirls and answer a few of these questions.  Be reflective.  Something you are thinking about doing might work in other parts of the country or world.  If we want our girls and women to be strong and confident, we need to work together to close the gender gap in organized sports.


Keep the conversation going on Twitter!

Q1) What can you do with your before and after school sports program to increase female participation?

My tweet:

A1) Create a detailed preference survey, girls intramurals day, female guest speakers, high school or middle school student-athletes join for a day or two. #slowchatPEgirls


Q2) What can you do extra during your physical education classes to promote girls and women in sports?

My tweet:

A2) Post pictures of inspirational women in sport on the walls, read to class Shelly Bean the Sports Queen or short stories about successful female athletes, interview female staff about youth sports experience and share results. #slowchatPEgirls


Q3) Who are the resources around your school or community that could help promote girls and women in sports?

My tweet:

A3) Girls on the Run coach, director of city Parks and Recreation, high school sports coaches, female staff at school, parents of students. #slowchatPEgirls


Q4) What are your questions, concerns, comments on this topic that haven’t been addressed yet? #slowchatPEgirls

Your tweet:

A4) …… #slowchatPEgirls