Teacher Leadership, It’s Time to Start a Movement!

Lynn Preble, President News & Events, President's Message

It’s been 26+ years I have been in education. I still still remember the conversation with my physical education teacher in elementary school. She was and still is someone I looked up to and never wanted to disappoint. She asked me one day what I wanted to do when I grew up (not sure I actually have yet) and I knew instantly what it was. I told her I wanted to be a physical education teacher. Without hesitation she told me to go into another line of work. Well, obviously I didn’t take that advice. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a physical education teacher and that thought never wavered. At the time, I didn’t go into the the field to teach kids to be physically literate, I just thought it was a cool job! I was a three-sport high school athlete and a college softball player. After graduating from college I knew I would also become a coach for the sports that were so much a part of my life. I willingly admit that was my main focus when I finally did become a physical educator. However, I never wanted to be the “roll out the ball” type of teacher. I am too much of a perfectionist to just settle for an easy out. It was, and in some schools still is, too easy to be that type of teacher, however, it wasn’t me.
Fast forward to 2012. This was the year I became completely invested in not only becoming a leader in my field that I knew I could be, but on a full scale assault! Sure, I had been department chair at two of the three schools I had taught in, but that really only influenced the small group I worked with. I took the leap to become a teacher-leader in my district first by helping to create district-wide common curriculum and assessments. Then somehow I found my way to the Arizona Health and Physical Education(AzHPE) organization. This is the organization that is tasked with providing its nearly 1000 members and over 3000 physical education teachers in Arizona the latest in ‘best practices,’ advocacy, policy, and one of the best State Conventions around. The leaders of AzHPE saw something in me to bring me into their circle which in turn I then saw in myself. It took me a lot of years in the field to truly step up and finally step out into a leadership role. Each of us has the potential to lead, especially if you are passionate about what you do. Some take on that task early in their career, others, like myself, may take a longer journey. The essential element is courage. Courage to take that first step and believe in yourself. If you believe in your passion, the courage will be there if you just take that first step.
My first BIG step was when AzHPE entrusted me to represent Arizona for SHAPE America’s Speak Out Day. This is a yearly event held in Washington, DC where physical educators from across the country converge on Capitol Hill to speak out for health and physical education. It is an opportunity to meet with state representatives and make a direct impact. When AzHPE sent me to DC I was SCARED! I had never done anything like this in my life. Yet, if they could trust me, then I had to trust myself. It was time for me to step up and become the leader I knew I could become.
But, this is not just about me. I challenge each and every physical educator out there to evolve in their profession. Don’t be content to take the easy gig, never expanding your repertoire, doing things the same year after year because that’s the way you’ve always done it. Step out of your comfort zone and take a leadership role. Start small if need be. What can you do on your campus? When you feel you have made an impact, find a way to become a voice in your district. Then, the sky’s the limit. We always need quality sessions for our Convention and we need you! Have you ever considered presenting? Calls for proposals will be out soon. You can do it and I challenge you to submit a proposal. Our state organization is an extremely welcoming organization and is always looking for its members to become leaders. Invest in our profession. If we don’t, no one else will. As my friend and past AzHPE President Keri Schoeff says, “Be your own superhero!” We can’t expect anyone else to save us, we have to save ourselves and our profession. There has never been a better time to be in physical education than right now. With the passage of Every Student Succeeds Act(ESSA), physical education has been elevated in status to be included as part of a student’s well-rounded education. Physical education finally has the teeth to establish itself as an integral part in schools across America. The only thing needed now is teacher leaders. This is our time, this is our chance to lead our children into a healthy future. Are you ready to join the Movement?