Top 5 TED Talks for Physical Educators

Today’s physical educators are continuously seeking opportunities for professional development. One can choose a traditional route of enriching their craft by presenting or simply attending an annual conference. Others may opt to read the most up-to-date books and articles written by true professionals in the field regarding best practices for today’s pedagogy. One of my personal favorites, social media, has taken the physical education field by storm. Twitter in particular encompasses an enormous professional learning network full of ideas and insight. Have you heard of Voxerpe.com? Voxerpe.com is a website dedicated to helping physical education teachers connect with the global community of physical educators on voxer, a powerful free application for your phone.  Think of your phone as a modern day walkie talkie used to communicate with some of the best PE teachers in the world.  Crazy, right? Most likely, teachers, as continuous learners, are using a combination of the above examples.  What about TED?

TED Talks as Professional Development!

Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) talks are yet another beneficial resource, which has helped shape me into the physical education teacher I am today. Usually short and to the point (under 18 minutes), TED talks include many of today’s most influential and motivating professionals including teachers, doctors, athletes, coaches, CEOs and ordinary people who just have a good story to share. Below, I’ve listed the 5 TED talks (+1) that have influenced me the most as a 21st century physical education teacher.

  1. Run, Jump, Learn! How Exercise Can Transform our Schools: Dr. John Ratey, MD

Dr. Ratey discusses the brain-exercise connection and how exercise can raise test scores, lessen behavioral problems, and help the overall well-being of today’s students with fitness based physical education.  Dr. Ratey also authored the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.  This TED talk along with Spark inspired me and my school to begin a morning movement program called Every Lap Counts.

2.  Want Smarter, Healthier Kids?  Try Physical Education: Paul Zientarski

Paul Zientarski, educator of 40+ years, discusses his highly successful program, Learning Readiness Physical Education (LRPE) he created at Naperville Central High School.  He emphasizes how the program has produced dramatic improvements in test scores, behavior, and childhood obesity.  His talk is an inspiring reminder of why quality physical education matters!

      3.  Every Kids Needs a Champion: Rita Pierson

40 year teaching veteran Rita Pierson calls for educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.  This talk inspired me to seek connections with each of my students.  On many occasions, this has increased the comfort level of some students who were shy or hesitant about physical education class.

4. Changing the Game in Youth Sports: John O’Sullivan

John O’Sullivan chronicles his three decades as a soccer player and coach.  He recalls when youth sports were about children competing against other children instead of adults competing with each other through their kids.  This, he says, is the reason so many of today’s youth drop out of sports.  John O’Sullivan also wrote a great book called, Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.

5. The Decline of Play: Dr. Peter Gray

Dr. Peter Gray emphasizes how there has been a dramatic decline in children’s freedom to play without adult supervision over the past 60 years.  He discusses why free play is essential for children’s healthy social and emotional development and outlines steps through which we can bring free play back to children’s lives.  Peter Gray also wrote an equally compelling book called, Free to Learn: Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life.

        Bonus TED – Try Something New for 30 Days: Matthew Cutts

I wrote a blog post on this talk called 30 Day Challenges: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone.   I share thoughts on how I use 30 day challenges both personally and professionally.  Be sure to check it out!

It is paramount for educators to keep up with the latest research and pedagogical practices while maintaining strategies and lessons that have proven success.  There are countless options for professional development that won’t cost the educator a cent.  Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Voxerpe offer a bounty of information from peers in the field.  The internet is full of websites and articles waiting to be explored. Have you seen what your colleagues are doing in their classes? I learn so much from sharing ideas with the three other members of my PE team.   TED.com is one website that I frequently explore in search of inspiration to broaden my knowledge of teaching physical education.  I hope you found the above TED talks to be equally inspiring.  Be sure to share other TED talks that may have been beneficial to your professional development.


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4 thoughts on “Top 5 TED Talks for Physical Educators

  1. The 30-Day Challenge is a great one to take on. I am really trying this summer to make some changes in my daily routine, and using that method is a good one. Reflecting on the Zientarski talk, that when we were doing the ERBs and there was the computer glitch so we sent the kids out to walk or run on the track then brought them back in to test, I /think/ the scores increased from what we had seen in the past. I know I always feel more clear-headed if I get up and get moving around, and I am sure it’s the same for our kids too.

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    • Take your cursor to the bottom right of the blog and a follow tab should pop up. Let me know if this works. Thanks for reading my blog.

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