The 9-Interview Itch: Deciding on My Next Physical Education Position

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I could no longer afford to keep teaching at my current school.  I knew that on July 1st my rent was going to increase.  I did not have enough money saved to buy a home yet and after eleven years of teaching, I was unhappy with my salary.  I had started teaching in my former school system in 2006 and was preparing to go into year twelve on salary step number eight.  I was frustrated.

“Ms. Tucker, you’re not going anywhere” my colleague said to me when I expressed my desire to leave my former school over a year ago.  But on July 11th, I signed a contract to teach physical education at a new school in a new county after having spent 10 years at my former elementary school.  I’m excited for the change but I have to admit, deciding on a new position had its share of challenges.  My journey to a new school began with something I call “The 9-Interview Itch”…nine interviews in the span of five months.

It started with an interview at an international school in DC, then on to an interview with Howard County Public Schools’ PE Department, followed by an interview with Montgomery County Public Schools’ PE Department, then an interview in my former county, PGCPS, then on to three interviews at schools in DCPS and back to two more interviews with schools in Howard County.  In each interview, I talked about positive behavior intervention and supports, classroom management, assessment in physical education, establishing a rapport with students, writing curriculum, connecting with parents and building relationships with the outside community.  I found that each school system was vastly different in expectations, procedures, and quality of support offered to its educators.

I presented my best self with every interviewer.  I learned that in the past 11 years, I had become more than an elementary physical education teacher.  I had become a mentor, problem solver, advocate, coach, leader, professional development facilitator, cheerleader, and change-maker.  I am going to be honest, realizing that I wouldn’t be able to support myself financially on my current salary was the motivating factor.  It pushed me to set up interviews in the first place.  But, each interview was well worth it.  I built the confidence I needed to take on the challenge of teaching some place new.

Ultimately, I decided on Howard County Public Schools as the best fit.  I felt that my experiences and passion for quality instruction were best suited there.  If anything, the 9-Interview Itch lit a fire under me and forced me to ask two questions, “What’s next in your career?” Where do you think you can make the most impact as an educator?” As teachers we are constantly placing our students’ needs first.  I get that.  However, it is okay to question our salary, current position and overall motivation in our careers and make the decisions that also best support us.




Connecting the Dots: A Guest Blog Series

During our two keynotes at the 2017 National PE and School Sport Institute, we continually touched on the idea of community.  As Collin Brooks stated in One Word, One Community:

This profession is a diverse landscape filled with individuals who have strengths that we must embrace.  Physical education is not an individual sport.  By leveraging our collective strengths we can accomplish the unthinkable…the unattainable…we can shift the paradigm.

The opportunity to share our voice through blogging is something that has had a great impact on the professional growth of all of us at PHYSEDagogy.  While each of us has a goal this year to blog more, we feel we are not the only ones with something important to say.  We’d like to introduce you to Connecting the Dots: A Guest Blog Series.

Connecting the Dots is about empowering fellow physical educators with an opportunity to share their voice with the greater physical education community through the reach of the PHYSEDagogy website. This is not a one and done guest blog post on a selected topic.  This is an opportunity for short term guest authorship with no limit to the quantity of blog posts an author contributes.  Collaboration is welcomed and blog topics are completely open ended as long as they fit within the themes of the PHYSEDagogy website, which are:

1. Teaching and Learning
2. Assessment and Grading
3. Classroom Management
4. Social Justice
5. Technology
6. Advocacy

Our first team of guest bloggers come from all over the United States.  Over the next few months you will be reading more from them, but for now, we want to proudly introduce the following educators:

Betsey Caldwell, Massachusetts | A proud graduate of the Physical Education Teacher Education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Betsey Caldwell is currently a K-8 health and physical education teacher in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts recently moving back to Massachusetts from Vermont. Betsey has been active professionally her entire career and thanks her mentors and professors for instilling the passion of giving back to the health and physical education community. Betsey most recently served as the Past President of SHAPE Vermont and found great JOY in the journey of #playingitforward, sharing best practices, modeling exceptional teaching, and mentoring our present and future professional leaders. She is passionate about advocacy, technology, leadership, collaboration and changing how the world sees physical education in our schools.

Mike Morris, North Carolina | Mike Morris is dynamic elementary physical education teacher in Rocky Mount, North Carolina where he currently teaches at Baskerville Elementary School and Red Oak Elementary School. His passion includes sharing ideas with others, creating new and innovative physical education activities, and collaborating with content area teachers to find ways to best teach struggling students through movement. Mike is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Stephanie Sandino, California | Stephanie Sandino is a Physical Education Teacher at Robert O. Townsend Junior High School in Chino Hills, CA. All of her studies including her Bachelor of Science, Single Subject teaching credential and Master’s of Science were completed at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Prior to transitioning into the middle school role, she taught at an elementary school for 3 years which has given her a good base in the direction she would like to take her 7th and 8th grade students. She’s an active member in the #physed community as a moderator for the #ESPEchat team, EPEW Committee Member and a volunteer instructional coach for the H-PEC team. Stephanie is a big believer in helping youth find their red rubber ball. Every student beginning their journey with a staple red rubber ball and helping them morph it with learning experiences- ultimately, ending up with something that they love to do and keeps them moving for a lifetime!

Kennedra Tucker, Maryland | Kennedra Tucker is a 12-year veteran Physical Education Teacher. She has taught at the elementary level in Prince George’s County Public Schools for the past 11 years and will be moving on to teaching middle school in Howard County Public Schools this year. Kennedra is a graduate of McDaniel College and the California University of Pennsylvania. Fingers crossed, she will be Nationally Board Certified in December. She is currently the President Elect of MAHPERD (Maryland Association of Health, Recreation and Dance). She presents regularly on Teaching PE in limited space, culturally responsive PE & using movement & mindfulness to engage classroom learners. Kennedra is also a certified fitness instructor and teaches dance fitness and cardio kickboxing classes at Bowie State University. She has a passion for helping people of all ages become more confident movers who use exercise to improve their quality of life.

Chris Walker, North Carolina | Chris Walker is a graduate of The University of South Carolina Upstate (formerly known as USC-Spartanburg. A teacher of 21 years at Hillsborough Elementary School, he is the lead elementary physical educator in Orange County Schools. He is the current president of the North Carolina Physical Education Association (NCPEA). He has presented all over the state of North Carolina doing PD for over 20 years and is now an OPEN national trainer. His passion is helping teachers to grow as professionals and leading by example.

One Word, One Community – Community Responses Part 1

PHYSEDagogy just delivered their keynotes at the National PE & Sport Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.  The main idea of the One Word, One Community afternoon keynote was to share what continues to push us as individuals and as group in physical education. The seven of us chose one word that represents our thoughts, captures our feelings, and provides us strength as we look forward to the upcoming school year.  At the conclusion of our Keynote, we invited the audience to share their one word. We were so inspired by what the audience shared, we wanted to learn more about why people chose their word.  Now you have a chance to share it with us.  Here are the first 10 responses we received from our amazing health and physical education teaching community.

If you would like to share your word with the physical education community, please click on the button below and submit the form.  This will take you a blog template (Google Form) that you can use to share your word and an explanation of why your word continues to push you in your physical education life. Once you complete the form, it will be posted on our website for all to see. Thanks!

Lisa Bell – Pioneer Elementary

What is your One Word?  Zeal

The hope that a teacher’s ZEAL for instruction in physical literacy will plant patches of “Zeal Seeds” in all of her students!

Mike Lally – South Carolina Department of Education

What is your One Word?  Perseverance

It can be exhausting trying to make positive change in our field of physical education. Especially when some are allowed to roll out the balls and do nothing when you are busting your tail to make a difference for the students and the profession. However, over time and with work people recognize what a quality physical education program should look like which in time hopefully will lead to all students receiving a quality physical education program

Kevin Shephard – Retired – supportREALteachers

What is your One Word?  Giving

Teachers give a lot. They give to their students, they give to their schools, they give to their communities, and they give to each other 🙂

Artie Kamiya – Great Activities Publishing

What is your One Word?  Honorable

I believe we need to continue to strive to be honorable in our teaching, in the choices we make, and in the service we provide for the children and youth under our care.

Osama Abu Jafar – Raha International School

What is your One Word?  Connect

Share Dream Improve

Doug Hallberg – Mohonasen CSD, Draper Middle School

What is your One Word?  Connect

I want to connect individually to every single one of my students every single class. I want each of them to feel seen, and to know that I noticed them. This interaction at the start of class can and does set the climate for all that follows!

Paul Zientarski – Retired from Naperville Central H.S.

What is your One Word?  Neuroscience

I believe that the salvation of Physical Education in schools is proving to Administrators, Parents, Legislators and Students that our brains are enhanced and new brain cells grow as a result of exercise. The research available regarding neuroscience and exercise’s influence on the brain is overwhelming. Since schools are so entrenched in improving test scores, quality PE can do just that, improve test scores. We also know that quality PE and daily exercise improves student attendance and behavior because of neurotransmitters in the brain that are activated through movement and exercise.

Matthew Bassett – San Jose Charter Academy

What is your One Word?  United

Physical Education, more than ever, needs to become united in offering quality physical Education to our students. Our profession must act together and cast off old practices. We need to teach skills in order to promote physical literacy. Without it, we will open the door for future generations to live shorter lifespans than our own.

Amie Schneider – Curriculum Resource for The School District of Palm Beach County

What is your One Word?  Grateful

I am grateful to have the best job in the world. I get to teach teachers who in turn, impact over 20,000 students on a daily basis. I am grateful to work with a team who are like family to me. I am also grateful to have met some of my PLC this past year. The impact social media has had on my life these past two years has been so rewarding.

Judy LoBianco – South Orange-Maplewood Schools

What is your One Word?  Courage

In my role as SHAPE America President-Elect and my work as a Supervisor of HPE: Courage, the MORAL kind, is the word that will advance our entire profession. It’s because we are only as effective as our weakest teachers, and those teachers are dominating our work. As champions, we need moral COURAGE, in order to educate them, advocate for best practice and do what is necessary to protect all 50 million children. Join me, and my one word, as we enter this school year! (LoBianco drops the mic)

If you didn’t get a chance to see our keynote, then feel free to watch by clicking on the link below:

One Word, One Community Keynote