Any physical person would envy the position of an HPE teacher, being outside, playing sport all day and wearing runners and ‘trackie daks’ to work. However, the nature of the job adds its own set of demands that classroom teachers don’t have, such as constantly lathering on sunscreen, frequently yelling across the oval, lugging heavy equipment around and being on your feet all day. Finishing every day completely exhausted got me thinking about the value and purpose of HPE.
ACARA states that “learning in Health and Physical Education supports students to make decisions about their health, wellbeing, safety and physical activity participation.” Taught from Prep to Year 10, HPE is clearly an important addition to the curriculum to provide students the opportunity of a lifetime of good health. However, grim results from the Active Healthy Kids Report of a D- for Overall Physical Activity, identifies the amount of work yet to be done. Even still, the opportunity for HPE teachers to reach students in a way that no other subject can, provides the key to its continued success.
One of the main advantages to teaching HPE, compared to other subjects, is the relevance of content for students and the relaxed interactions that can occur during HPE lessons between student and teacher. The environment provides a unique opportunity for teachers to build quality relationships with students. These relationships are the foundation to providing connection, support and a platform to share your passion for all things, health and movement. Without these relationships, students may not be able to hear the important messages in HPE.
Fostering these relationships can be difficult with lunch duty, after-school meetings, marking and curriculum deadlines, but it is worthwhile to provide any opportunities that you can. When frustrations arise about the time it takes to provide opportunities for students, always refer back to your purpose and how we can enact the most change? HPE teachers have the unique opportunity to reach out to those who want to make a connection and the benefit students will receive from that connection are immeasurable and invaluable. You may never know how your teaching has influenced a student but you will know that you tried your absolute best.