Nova Scotia Parents for Teachers

Teacher’s Stories

Unsung gym class hero

What is the Role of the junior high physical educator?

My love of my students and my love of sport is unwavering. My belief that the benefits of sports to junior high aged children are immeasurable has not changed. What has changed? MY TEACHING!

I’ve been a junior high phys. ed. teacher for 13 years and I still believe that it is the best job in the entire world. I absolutely love teaching physical education. As a result of WTR, my eyes were opened to how much time/effort I was giving to extra-curricular and how little attention my phys. ed. program was getting. I would estimate that 85% of my prep time was devoted to the duties I listed above. 15% of my prep time was used to plan for my actual job. This is unacceptable! I’m ashamed that I let down every single one of my students by not being the best phys. ed. teacher I could be. I spent more time dealing with the 30 athletes at my school (who already play sports outside of school) than the 275 students that I teach every day.

My job as a physical educator should be to motivate and engage ALL of my students so that they live active, healthy lifestyles outside of school and become physically literate. In order to do this, I need to focus solely on my program and on the health of myself. Since WTR, I have been happier, less tired and I’ve been able to spend time with my own children. This has never been my reality because of the expectations placed on me in regard to extra-curricular sport. These expectations have hurt my family and placed added demands on my husband and parents. I can’t allow this to happen anymore for something that is essentially forced upon me.

Another aspect of being a physical educator is how we are judged by others (admin, colleagues, parents). I’m guilty of this myself. How many times have you heard…”he’s a terrible phys. ed. teacher. He doesn’t do anything extra.” ? I have many friends who are now administrators who often call me when they are hiring for a phys. ed. position. The first question they ask is “Is he willing to coach?”. This is not fair!!!! When math teachers are judged/hired, they are judge by the quality of their teaching, their assessment strategies and their ability to create engaging lessons. No one judges the math teacher because he/she doesn’t have a math Olympic team. I want to be judged on my physical education program not on the amount of volunteer activities I organize. When this happens, it essentially takes the choice out of volunteering. Physical educators are basically being forced into coordinating extra-curricular in order to save their reputation where other teachers do not have this burden. It is not fair that physical educators are believed to not care about students when they choose to not coach/coordinate when other teachers are able to pick and choose how they spend their volunteer time with minimal repercussions.

The teaching professional in general has changed so much over the past 10 years. The demands placed on classroom teachers has become unmanageable (hence the collective actions of the NSTU). For this reason, teachers have been volunteering less and less for anything extra-curricular. This lack of a volunteer pool, has led to increased demands on the physical educator to find replacements or to just coach teams themselves.

  • All junior high school sports in HRSB are coordinated by the junior high physical education teacher
    • Every JH phys. ed. teacher is responsible to coordinate at least 1 league.
    • Phys Ed teachers are also expected to oversee any other leagues that other school staff or community members are running.
    • All HRSB Leagues, Playoffs and Regionals are coordinated by the phys. ed. teachers.
    • It is almost impossible to keep track of volunteer hours dedicated to the running of extra-curricular sport.
    • HRSB offers the most Athletic Contests out of all the Boards in the province (cross-country, soccer, volleyball, basketball, badminton, table tennis, wrestling, field hockey, omnikin, golf, skiing, field hockey, softball, track and field. (and I’ve probably forgotten some….)
    • 100% Teaching position on top of the volunteer hours.

Effect of Legislation:

  • After the legislature of a contract, most teachers are choosing to withdraw from volunteering with teams and coordinating leagues.
    • I personally feel just going back to “normal” would send the message that I’m ok with how the situation unfolded with the legislated contract.
    • I feel as if we go back to doing everything we did, we can expect to get a contract legislated every 4 years that will be worse.

Personally, I feel that the coordination of the extra-curricular sports is a stressful job.
You have to be very well organized and constantly available to make sure things are running smoothly. Most importantly you also have to be accountable for all decisions made by your Coaches and Student Athletes.

Below are some and not all of the volunteer responsibilities of the phys. ed. teacher in order of Time Commitments.

• Advertise/  ”Hire” Coach for all teams (21 +Teams)
• Get Coach to complete CR Check
• Make sure they are supported for whatever they need for the year.
• Ensure all coaches have received proper training including KSSIS, Concussion protocol, and First Aid

• Arrange Liaisons for all sport teams
• Help arrange coverage for teachers leaving for Athletic Events
• Be the Liaison for any teams without teacher volunteers

Team practices
• Coordinate Gym time/practice time for soccer (2 teams), Basketball (2 teams), Volleyball (2 teams), field hockey, Badminton, Track and Field, softball, omnikin, golf, ski team
• Coordinate Ice Time for Hockey

• -Ensure teams have a set of jerseys
• Ensure jerseys are collected at the end of the year
• Ensure we have enough jerseys for the upcoming season
• Order/Replace jerseys for next year
• Ensure $ collected for jersey deposit

• Communicate with coaches and students with game cancellations, changes, and forfeits (and everything else!!!!)
• Present info to staff at staff, meetings or staff emails
• Prepare monthly SAC reports for principal

• Ensure all drivers have J Form
• Ensure all drivers have CR Checks
• Fill out Day Trip Forms
• Fill our Overnight Trip Forms
• Complete trip Itinerary forms, and Emergency contact info for each trip

Team Registration into leagues/tournaments
• Oversee individual team registration
• Oversee/Create team budgets

Coach Communication- Everyday/All day (Weekends, Evenings)
• Ensure all team activities are running appropriately on a daily basis
• Responsible for all gym scheduling in building

Athletic Banquet (if you have one)
• Coordinate the Athletic Banquet; Food, Awards, Programs and Major Awards.

Ensure Team Rules/School Rules are followed
• Attend parent meeting for all teams at start of season to reinforce student –athlete contract/ info
• Team Rules and Expectations are followed
• Enforce Program Rules/Suspensions

Ensure Academic Policy is followed
• Players remain academically eligible to play
• Run academic checks and inform coaches

Player Eligibility
• Make sure players are eligible to compete (Age, Grade,)

Coordinate a league for at least 1 sport
• All phys. ed. Teachers’ are expected to coordinate at least 1 sport (find teams, get coach contacts, create schedules, book fields/gyms, book referees, reschedule if needs, collect results, create playoff schedule, communicate with all involved periodically)
• All phys. ed. Teachers’ are expected to coordinate/host Regionals for teams (same duties as listed above)

Attend Bi-Monthly Meetings
• Attend meetings (after school) to discuss sports in season.
• Give updated information on how leagues are running.
• Make sure leagues are set up to run appropriately for all teams involved

Other expected Roles
• Attend each teams’ most important game or final game of the season.
• Attend all banner games.
• Attend teams’ rival game
• Open the gym in the morning (8am) and after school for students to access gym time.
• FUNDRAISING for phys. ed. equipment

High Schools
Each high school has a position called athletic director which oversees the afore mentioned duties that the junior high phys. ed. teacher is expected to do voluntarily.

AD Time:
-Some AD’s get 2 blocks off a year while some get 1. This can mean 5+hours per week.

-Some coordinators get stipends ($1000) to run leagues (Boys Hockey)
-These are community volunteers who want to be compensated for running the league. -AD’s do not get stipends for any league.

Junior High School sports in HRSB do not run without phys. ed. teachers volunteer time.
The main reason we had our contract legislated is because of WTR.
If WTR had that much of an effect on our students than obviously, Athletics is one of the most important things we have in our schools. Most people can acknowledge the effect WTR has had on our buildings…..if Extra Curricular are that important why doesn’t the board start giving the support it deserves?

The junior high phys. ed. teacher role in HRSB is becoming a revolving door in several schools. More junior high Teachers are looking to move to elementary schools due to the increasing expectations and decreasing support.

Some phys. ed. teachers feel they cannot step away from doing all the extra curricular as they will be removed from the gym and placed in the classroom to teach their minor methods courses, rather than PE.

1. Bring back a Physical Education specific position at the Board level (we used to have one but this position was cut.) Duties of this position:
a. Coordinate all leagues for all junior highs in HRSB. Coordinate regional tournaments.
b. Organize/plan Physical Education specific PD on PD Days (It’s insulting that phys. ed. teachers need to sit through math/literacy PD)
c. Be a phys. ed. coach (same role as literacy and math coaches) to support all physical educators.

  1. Each junior high should have an Athletic Director position. This position should be offered to any staff member at the school and not be automatically assigned to the phys. ed. teacher. Any teacher who becomes the AD should be given at minimal 2 hours of time (on top of regular prep time) and have one class (teachable taken away from their teaching schedule). For example, the Science/Tech Ed teacher wishes to be the AD therefore they would teach one less section of tech ED in lieu of the AD position. 2.5 hrs of prep time + 2 additional hours to be given for AD duties. The AD would be responsible for all of the volunteer duties I listed in this document.
  2. A sub code for athletic events. A sub should be provided for any teacher that is supervising an athletic event that is held during school hours. Ie Ski team, track, softball, badminton, etc. As of now, team supervisors are responsible for finding class covers. Teachers are less willing to give up their prep time now.

No computers, no internet

I teach Music in two schools. One school has no classroom, no computer and no internet. I thought I could do it… but am honestly struggling.

Many students, many restrictions

I’m in a high school with 85 teachers, & 1400 students. Classes at 39, 37 & 35. I have a 2000 limit to copies per semester. Result? Forcing us to have everything posted online. When we ask students to print things off to have ready, we were told by Minister, (as that’s how far the complaint went), that we cannot ask students to do this. Ask me how many work packages I made for kids suspended? Was any of it ever completed? Nope as we cannot enforce that either. It’s all very funny really…

Janitorial cutbacks

Janitorial cutbacks mean that for a significant portion of the morning there is no janitor at our elementary school. One day not that long ago, a student vomited on the floor in my classroom. There was no one to clean it since the administrator was busy with a discipline issue. (And I am not cleaning a large amount of vomit while trying to teach small children.). I took my class to another room and tried to do some curriculum related work. But then the room I was in was needed for a specialist, so I had to go to another room where I had no material to work with. We didn’t get back into our classroom until after lunch when the janitor arrived and cleaned up the floor.

School falling apart

I use to take my tool box to school and fix stuff myself!! I actually painted two classrooms for other teachers. I knew one of the maintenance crew for CCRSB, he retired earlier than he planned because he got tired of fixing things with no parts, he said they were told to do the best they could but don’t use anything new to fix the problem. I would have to put 6-10 buckets out on gym floor every time it rained because of all the leaks, put in a number of requisitions to have it fixed, nothing happened, I took a picture of all the buckets one day and posted on Facebook, that got a response in less than 24 hours. Administration called me in for a meeting. Oh, for the record, have been retired three years now…. roof still leaks!

Taking matters into my own hands

My classroom projector had a notification start in October that the bulb needed to be replaced. So I put in a couple of tech/ maintenance requests to have it ordered and replaced (should be no problem considering it’s a necessity). Here it is March and my bulb finally burnt out last week. Despite my school’s multiple attempts at ordering a bulb through department, no bulb showed up. So I took matters in my own hand and bought myself a bulb (that can be $100+). Now I figured it would be no problem for the department tech guy to come in and replace the bulb (because it’s mounted, seems complicated and I don’t want to damage the projector itself). Turns out our department tech person might not be able to do it, might be a different tech guy in Truro (hour away), so I have to put a request through for him to come which could be May?June? September? Talk about a broken system. So needless to say I’m going to watch a number of YouTube videos, get myself out a ladder and attempt the fix and replacement myself.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel

My main concern is that there are virtually no decisions made that are based in RESEARCH. Our students do not need to be guinea pigs in an experiment. There is enough research, and enough models of implementation across the world that we do not need to be investing our time/money “reinventing the wheel”. Often, the practicalities of implementation have not even been considered. The expectations land in the inboxes of the classroom teachers and then we scramble to try to make it work. The people in charge of these decisions have either no classroom experience, or their experience is from 10 years ago, which means they cannot relate to the current educational climate at all.

I would invite any Liberal MLA to come into a classroom

I am a retired teacher (34 years) and am currently doing a long term sub job (8 weeks) in a Grade 3 class at Digby Elementary.

1) one student who is severely autistic (full time aide) who needs continuous support

2) one student who has Selective Mutism

3) eight students who are 1-1/2 years below grade placement

4) two students who have only attended 2 days since I started Jan. 12

5) two students working at Primary level Math and Language Arts

6) three students that are late arriving, at least 1/2 late- EVERY DAY

7) one student who was identified with obvious social and physical limitations her first week in Primary. Her testing is finally happening, halfway through her 4th year of school

8) one student who transferred in from the French Immersion in Sept., after 3 years of French, no English instruction

9) eight students on level Grade 3

10) nine IPP, three more in progress.

11) no TA allotted time- if one TA finds she has extra time, she drops in and I put her to work (it doesn’t happen often- maybe twice a week)

If this was my classroom, I would invite any Liberal MLA to come and follow me for a couple of days, and would be proud to have my name attached to this list. Unfortunately, at this point, I do not have the permission of the regular teacher or the school to do that.

Let teachers teach!

Hire more teachers and putting a hard cap size on classrooms P-12.
Hire more teacher assistants. Inclusion needs to be reviewed if it is to continue in the school system. The existing model is not working. Many children are on adaptations and IPP’s without the proper supports in place. More funding is needed to support these students in the classroom.
Letting teachers TEACH!
There are more than enough studies and research available. Stop testing – that is not benefiting students.
Remove Department of Education initiatives that place high demands on teachers and have zero impact on improving classroom conditions.

For too many years we have kept quiet

As a teacher I can tell you that there are so many children in this boat. We know what supports they need but we can’t help. I have cried over students who constantly get in trouble because it’s easier to do that than to be embarrassed because they can’t keep up academically. I had a parent who wrote so many letters begging for help but there was no support for her. For too many years we have kept quiet and tried one new teaching style or behavior plan after another. We desperately need support.

Teachers protesting Bill 75

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Nova Scotia Teachers