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In these difficult and uncertain times, instead of moving with my students as I teach them high quality physical education I stare at the videos I made for them. While I wait for them to turn in assignments, I reflect on why I became a PE teacher.

In my school, I am known as JimInTheGymPE. A confident and charismatic PE teacher working in the Bronx. It wasn’t always like that. Originally, I wanted to become a lawyer. Yet, in my life there have been times when things haven’t gone my way, and I had to reflect on my next choice. At one point I decided that being a physical education teacher was the way to go. In 2008 I was fortunate to get a job right out of college at an elementary school. I was so excited! It seemed like a dream job, where I could teach PE the way I wanted. Many teachers don’t get that freedom. However, dreams don’t always have happy endings. Over the years, I have had a few different placements while looking for the perfect school. Some days the dream seemed to be a nightmare. I faced difficult and frustrating schedules and expectations at some schools. There were days I wondered if I had made the right choice. Was this what it was supposed to be like to be a physical education teacher? Surely, the career I thought that would make me happy every day, was this really what it was? Sometimes the road less traveled is that way for a reason. It’s up to you to forge a new path. I left the gym and tried my hand at teaching Special Education. This was rewarding, but something was missing.

2017-2018 was a great school year. I found my current school and I’m in a great setting. My bosses respect me. My school accepts me. I am so very fortunate. I’m the SHAPE PA council chair. I’ve done webinars, and live workshops at the New York city and state level. I was even blessed with an amazing daughter that is just like me. Is this enough? Certainly not! It may seem that there is no end in sight to our current pandemic and that dark days are here forever. The present is an important time for quality PE. Students and parents are expected to work online. Despite the barriers to getting the content and resources, as educators, we need to supply our communities with quality instruction.

I am confident that one day we will return to school and I will be just as excited to see my students as they are to see me. As I look back on my past and the choices I have made, I wonder how this fuels my future? I’m 10 years in but I still feel like I’m fresh out of college. I’m hungry to be the best I can be.

At the end of the day, I am always left with the question: How can we best teach physical education to our students? I don’t have all the answers but I am proud to be a part of a professional community that seeks to find those answers each and every day. When my students come to the gym or follow my lessons, what matters is the valuable learning and experiences they are having and sharing together.

Would I do it all again and face all the hardships and slings and arrows? It’s not a long answer: Yes, I would. For that road has made all the difference. 

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