Asset Building in #PhysEd

I was recently introduced to the Search Institute’s framework of 40 Developmental Assets. If you have never heard of Developmental Assets before, they are defined by the Search Institute as “common sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible, successful adults.”

As I read through the list of assets, I realized how useful this could be for #PhysEd professionals to ensure that our students successfully develop to their potential. I’d like to share with you how I see myself making use of the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets and I would love for you to share in the comments below (or on Twitter) how you focus/develop these assets in your own teaching.

Good? Ok, let’s break these assets down into categories:

External Assets:

External assets are assets which can be taught from the outside-in with students. These assets are provided from their external environment and through their circles of influence. Within this category, there are four sub categories:

1. Support:

Support can be offered at home. However, not all students are lucky enough to receive support at home. In the cases where little or no support is provided at home, who can students turn to?

As educators, we are in a great position to provide the support that our students need. We often spend time noticing when our students have done something wrong, but I challenge you to notice them when they’ve done something good. Be it in #PhysEd, the school or even within the community, catch your students being good and praise them for it!

2. Empowerment:

As PE teachers, we have to know, value and believe in our students. Although some students will make it challenging at times, do your best to always see your students as resourceful, knowledgeable and fully capable of reaching their realistic goals in a safe environment. Try to bridge the gap between your school and its community to empower students to be actively involved outside of school hours.

3. Boundaries & Expectations:

Simply stated, this is classroom environment. Our environment needs to be consistent, engaging and welcoming to all students. Clear rules and academic responsibilities needs to be outlined and/or co-constructed between students and their PE teacher to ensure expectations are met. After all, someday these students will have work and life expectations which need to be met. Start preparing them for tomorrow today!

4. Constructive use of time:

#PhysEd needs to promote creativity. Through adaptive activities, TGFU progression pieces and vertical enrichment opportunities, strive to develop lesson plans and programming that will encourage and promote active healthy lifestyles, learning beyond the classroom and community involvement. Keep your gymnasium and/or classroom a positive learning environment. In the grand scheme of things, we have very little time with our students. Let’s use that time wisely!

Internal Assets:

These assets are best described as assets controlled within the internal student environment. Sub categories include:

1. Commitment to learning:

Within the PE experiences to which we provide for our students, we must to continually find ways to motivate students to learn. When giving homework and special tasks, try to make those tasks appropriately engaging and interesting to the student. This seems like common sense, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this. We can do small things such as encouraging students to read for pleasure in areas which interests them. We can allow students to “share the air” and the school by including them in cool tasks such as mission statement and statement of beliefs building.

2. Positive values:

Caring, humility, honesty, responsibility and integrity are all positive values we can model for students. Remember that your students may not be exposed to these values at home, so fostering a learning environment and a way of teaching with proper use of these values can speak loudly to student behavior and social development.

3. Social competencies:

As a #PhysEd teacher, modelling good planning and providing opportunities for students to make active decisions through critical thinking is a huge asset for their knapsack when they leave school. Interpersonal competencies can be fostered through PE teacher modelling and exposing students to opportunities for collaboration, communication and cooperation (e.g. cooperative games). If and when conflicts arise in class, strive to teach and remind students of peaceful conflict resolution.

4. Positive identity:

Lastly, but of very high importance; physical educators have the power to give students power. Within your lessons, make your students feel like they have some power through something as simple as leading the group stretch, setting up the badminton nets or just helping you with hurrying students to get changed. All of these examples allow your students to gain a sense of personal belonging. Inclusion speaks to this, but your asset building actions solidify this. As educators, remind your students to be optimistic and to take the path less traveled. Build their self esteem through teacher-student conferencing, community involved and by creating purposeful physical education experiences. When students derive a sense of purpose from your lessons, they begin to see activity and movement as a purposeful, lifelong principle.

I cannot stress enough how powerful asset building can be in PE. Most asset building is through action, but also from attention to the details of your school, your students and your pedagogy. You cannot enjoy the company of others without first enjoying the company of yourself.

That being said, what are some things you are currently doing to foster these developmental assets within your students, your school staff, or even yourself? Leave your answers in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!


Joey Feith is the founder of He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.