Why I'm Excited for #PEInstitute17

Why I’m Excited for #PEInstitute17

In 2012, I received an email from a company called Great Activities Publishing.

I didn’t know about the company, but they seemed interested in talking business. At the time, this website was starting to gain some traction online and I had received a few emails like the one Great Activities had sent me. I wasn’t interested in setting up any business deals (I was just focused on making cool stuff for my teaching and happy sharing it with others) but I decided it couldn’t hurt to agree to a phone call.

I got a call from a North Carolina number one afternoon right after I had finished teaching. On the other end of the line, a man spoke in a calm voice. He introduced himself and he started to ask questions about why I decided to start a website. The conversation went from there to what makes for a quality physical education experience. After that, we kinda just talked about why teaching is the best job in the world.

I spoke with the man for a long time (I can’t remember how long exactly, but it had to be close to an hour). The funny thing was that he never once talked about business. It was as if all he cared about was physical education and was happy just to discuss that.

And that is how I met Artie Kamiya.

Flash forward a few months and I get another call from Artie. He’s asking me if I’d be interested in going down to Asheville to be a presenter at something called the National PE Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. As a part time teacher, I was strapped for cash at the time and couldn’t afford to a) take time off my summer camp job during the peak season and b) fly myself down to Asheville to attend a summer institute. I politely declined his offer, which he understood.

In August of that year, I got one more call from Artie. This time, he wanted to know if I’d be interested in attending the 2013 National PE Institute as a keynote speaker.

A keynote. Me. At an American conference.

I couldn’t turn that opportunity down so I had to say yes. It would turn out to be a decision that would change my life.

Let’s jump to now. The TL;DR of this is that I’m blessed to have been invited to be a part of three National PE Institutes: 2013, 2014 and 2015. After a brief hiatus in 2016 (I was on my honeymoon… that’s a legit reason for not being there, right?), I’m so grateful and excited to get to be going back to Asheville, NC for the 2017 National PE and School Sport Institute!

Earlier this week, Artie asked me on Twitter why I was excited to be going back. So Artie, here are my top five reasons for being so wildly excited for #PEInstitute17:

Being Surrounded By Passionate Educators

Here’s the thing about the National PE & School Sport Institute: it’s a summer conference. To teachers, summer is a sacred thing: we need it to recharge, reflect and regroup before the upcoming school year. To take time out of your summer vacation to attend a #physed institute, you kind of have to be crazy. Crazy passionate, that is!

Everybody I have ever met at the #PEInstitute has been insanely passionate about their teaching and advocacy. You would be very hard pressed to find someone there who couldn’t inspire you in some way. This makes for such an incredible energy throughout the entire event. Everyone is excited, everyone is fired up and everyone is ready to help each other out so that we can raise the bar for #physed as a profession!

Each time I’ve left the National PE Institute, my mind has been buzzing and the fire in my belly has been roaring. The weeks between the institute and the start of the school year have always been filled up with some of the best work I’ve ever done to ensure that the new school year is the best of my career. It’s just the best and I can’t wait to see what this year’s summer boost will enable me to do for my students!

Learning From The Best of The Best

If you’ve ever had a chance to check out the lineup of speakers from past National PE Institutes, you’ll notice that the program is full of names you recognize. Leaders from the online #physed community, legends within the fields of PE and school sport,  and die-hard advocates for our profession.

There’s a quote that says that “if you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room”. At the National PE Institute, I always feel like I’m in the right room because a) I feel a little uncomfortable/intimidated, b) I don’t want to talk, I just want to learn and c) I’m constantly in awe of the expertise of the people around me. It (and by it I mean the realization that you’re about to learn a lot in a short period of time) is the best feeling in the world!

The ideas I picked up in Asheville, the connections I’ve made, the things I’ve had my eyes opened too… it’s all priceless. Straight up, I would not be who I am were it not for the National PE & School Sport Institute.

Sharing My Story & Work

This year, I’m especially excited to be sharing the work I have accomplished in my teaching since my last visit to Asheville. For those of you who know me, you know that I’ve had my head down for the past two years as I’ve focused on getting my teaching game to where I want it to be (which is something I’m still working on!) That being said, I’m proud of the success I’ve had over the past couple years in terms of a) deepening my understanding of physical literacy and the role of physical education in its development, b) creating a standards-based physical education curriculum that is tailored to my students’ needs, and c) improving my assessment and feedback practices to ensure that I’m doing everything I can possible do to help my students learn and grow.

At #PEInstitute17, those are the things I want to share with others. I want to help get the #physed conversation focused on our collective “WHY” rather than the “WHAT” of our work.

I’ve been working my butt off, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve and I’m ready to admit where I need to keep growing. This summer will be about sharing all of that.

High Quality Professional Development… Over Drinks

Ok, so this one may seem a little funny, but let’s be honest: the best conversations/moments at physical education conferences usually happen at the hotel bar. In the past, the best part of each of my days at the #PEInstitute has been hanging out with teachers at the hotel bar as we share ideas, open up about our struggles, and pour our hearts out about the beautiful challenge that is teaching young people.

Ok, not technically taken from the #PEInstitute, but I couldn’t write about #PEPubPD without giving a shout out to my two fav PE drinking buddies!

Be it having a beer and listening to amazing leaders duke it out (politely) about their diverging opinions of what makes for effective physical education, hanging out with people like Mike Smith and talking about tech in #physed for a few hours (I don’t shut up about PE in the first place, if you’re going to buy me beer, I’ll talk your ears off), or singing the Canadian national anthem with Judy LoBianco… the bar is where it’s at and I can’t wait to be back there!

Spending Time With Artie & Mac

All the other reasons are great, but the reality is that I just want to spend time with two of the most amazing men I’ve ever met. Larry “Mac” MacDonald and I met during my first visit to Asheville. Long story short: Mac has had a massive influence on my teaching by helping me reflect on what really matters: students, caring and balance. My wife jokes that Mac is my emotional guru, and he really is! Mac, I love you bud and I can’t wait to share some Buds together this summer.

As for Artie, words cannot express how grateful I am for everything he has done for me. Artie put his trust in me in 2013, he opened doors for me I never knew existed, and he has done it all for no other reason than the fact that he truly, truly cares about physical education. It’s why he created the National PE & School Sport Institute, it’s why he never talked business during our first phone call, and it’s why he has dedicated his entire career to our profession. Artie, thank you for all you do, have done, and will continue to do. You are a leader amongst leaders, a mentor and inspiration to so many of us, and a caring friend.

So there are my top five reasons for being excited to be at the 2017 National PE & School Sport Institute. I really can’t wait to be back and to get inspired by some of the best physical educators of this generation (and others too!)

If you’ll be making your way to Asheville this summer, be sure to let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (be sure to use the #PEInstitute17 hashtag). I’d love to hear why you’re excited about being there!

Thanks for reading and happy teaching!

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

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