Why Meaningful PE for my Students? – Milena Trojanovic

The following guest blog is from our series highlighting chapters from our recently published book Meaningful Physical Education: An Approach for Teaching and Learning.

A little over a year ago I was asked to consider contributing a chapter to a book about Meaningful Physical Education. I didn’t know where to start. I am certainly not an author nor do I consider myself an academic that could be capable of writing something engaging for an audience. However, after a little reflection, I realized that I had a story to tell: the story of MPE for my students and the benefits that have come from my own learning journey about this approach in physical education. 

Meaningful PE and student thinking

My own approach to teaching physical education is to provide multiple opportunities for engagement for all students both physically as well as socially. The lessons, and the questions that I ask, pave the way for students to think about how movement can enrich their lives beyond the gym walls. Using the MPE approach enables me to refine my own planning and teaching strategies in order to better support students in their thinking and learning about lifelong physical activity participation.  Here are a few samples of student generated responses for success criteria for MPE. These responses have become our anchor charts in the gym:

The chapter: Meaningful PE with Immigrant Newcomers

My students’ story lies within this chapter in the book. What I thought was a simple unit to help develop stability through educational gymnastics, turned into a non-traditional opportunity that gave my students a wonderful chance to interact with others in creative and challenging new ways, (fun, social interaction, challenge) and explore while problem solving and increasing their confidence and physical abilities. They used the activities to set goals for themselves (goal setting) and reflected after class about the ways in which these skills and activities could help them in the future (personally relevant learning). You might want to check out the chapter for yourself! 

So now what, how, & why?

Well, to say that this past year has been rather “different” is an understatement! With the Covid-19 protocols that are in place in the school setting, it has been a challenging year to navigate and deliver what I would say are “best practices” in teaching physical education. Having said that, despite these very real, and often trying, times, I have been able to continue to connect the dots for my students using the MPE approach. I know the ‘what’ and ‘how’ I am teaching is driven by the rules to which we must adhere, but I also know that the ‘why’ is being made by the students in the most remarkable ways. Their thoughtful and reflective responses to why we are doing certain things is providing me with “delight” in knowing that we will come out of this soon and we will be able to continue with our learning in the best way possible! 

Milena Trojanovic has been a physical educator in Ontario, Canada, for 28 years, teaching students from Kindergarten through Grade 8.

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