For my HEAL-405 (Teaching Methods in Health Education K-12) class we got the opportunity to present several different health activities at the 2018 VAHPERD (Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance) conference in Virginia Beach. We prepared for this presentation weeks in advance, and practiced our health activities many times in class, and even once at a different professional development session for Prince William County Health & Physical Education teachers. So, we had a lot of time and opportunity to refine the presentation and feel confident in the activities that we presented at the conference.
It was very important for our class to present at the VAHPERD conference because Health education is currently advancing and it now more focused on teaching students health skills. For many years Health education has centered around teaching students from Kindergarten through 12th grade health information only. However, teachers have been missing out on teaching students how to be skillful with this information. Our class taught four different health activities that Health & Physical Education teachers can utilize in their classrooms and each one focused on one or several health skills that are featured in Virginia curriculum. These health skills consist of decision making, interpersonal communication, self-management, analyzing influences, goal-setting, advocacy, and accessing valid and reliable information. The teachers from all around Virginia that came to our presentation got to learn four activities that each focused on one or more of these health skills. This is wonderful because then hundreds of students of all different ages all around Virginia are going to get new health activities to help them learn valuable health skills that they can utilize for life.
I also learned a lot about presenting at conferences and to other teachers. We were unaware of exactly what our presentation room would look like, or how many people would attend our session. This meant that we had to adjust our activities, and the flow of our presentation without a lot of time. The room was smaller than we expected, so for my partner and I’s station we had to move our tables out of the way to the corner of the room until it was our turn to present our activity. We also decided at the last minute to present each activity one at a time, as opposed to breaking the teachers up into stations and having them rotate. This experience was great, because these are the exact same challenges that we will be presented with daily as Health & Physical Education teachers.
Finally, I also learned to present my material confidently. The idea of myself, as a college student, presenting an activity to professional teachers that are experienced is nerve-racking. However, I felt confident in the activity that my partner and I were presenting, and I knew that we had prepared and practiced our activity enough that it would be very valuable to the participants in our presentation. This helped make our presentation run smoothly, and it helped to show the value of our lesson more effectively to the teachers. Overall, presenting at the VAHPERD conference was a great experience, and has encouraged me to find more opportunities in the future to be a leader in the Physical Education field.