Young individuals entering into a career in education often work hard, making full use of as many resources as possible, in order to gain an edge professionally.  The WVAHPERD organization is a wonderful resource to utilize in this regard.  Young professionals will gain valuable insight into the world of teaching.  Through this organization, prospective teachers can come together to gain information and knowledge from experienced, veteran educators.  As a future physical education and / or health teacher, you are already taking the first steps in your professional career.  Let us enrich your experience by providing you with additional tools, resources, and networking.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

Jonathan Ratliff, Student Representative
West Virginia University

Step 1: Organize your portfolio

Without much teaching experience to discuss at interviews, you’ll need to dazzle interviewers with your attitude and your portfolio. Gather transcripts, certifications, Praxis results, recommendations, student work from your student teaching, statement of teaching philosophy, unique lesson plans, and anything else that will help establish your qualifications. Tip: Your portfolio reflects your professionalism as a teacher, and your attention to detail, so make sure it’s perfect.

Step 2: Don’t wait for the phone to ring

Starting each day with a job hunt schedule is the best way to “get focused and stay productive,” says Hallie Crawford, a career coach based in Atlanta. Make a list of things you want to accomplish each day, whether it involves networking, adding to your portfolio, or submitting applications. Network aggressively with friends and acquaintances—a kind word from a colleague to a school administrator may open doors. Spread the word about your job search to your Facebook and Ning friends, and look for job feeds on Twitter. The Kansas Educational Employment Board, for example, uses Twitter to send job announcements. CareerBuilder also has several regional Twitter feeds. Tip: Many NEA state affiliates link to education job boards from their Web sites. You can find state Association links here.

Step 3: Consider substitute teaching

Substitute teaching lets you network with administrators and fellow teachers, and offers a preview of your teaching skills. Unless you’re hired as a long-term or permanent substitute, you will likely be paid on a per diem basis, and will often be assigned jobs on just a few hours’ notice. Be flexible. Work as a substitute educator can be inconsistent and may lack benefits. If you need to defer student loan payments, you can find instructions at Stafford Loan and Sallie Mae. Research your health insurance options — you may even qualify for certain state plans.

Step 4: Take a critical look at your skills

Michael Moffre, a middle school math teacher in North Colonie, NY, always expected to teach social studies, but he’s glad he pursued dual certification in math. That math certification helped Moffre land employment in a top-rated school district. “The whole point is to make yourself more marketable,” he says. There might not be a lot of demand for your current area of certification, which is why a second area can be critical. Math and science are the well-publicized shortage areas, but not the only ones. “There’s a lot of demand for math, but … everyone is looking for special ed,” advises Robert Piche, a veteran high school math teacher in Howard County, Maryland.

Step 5: Look for regions that are hiring

Certain parts of the country are aggressively recruiting qualified teachers. For example, in an attempt to fill dozens of teaching vacancies, Philadelphia has begun offering relocation assistance and has even hired a placement firm to help spread the word. Mississippi has routinely had more than 2,000 teaching vacancies statewide, and Florida has spent the past several years actively recruiting teachers to move to the state. Cities across the country, from Baltimore to Las Vegas, aggressively recruit new teachers each year.

Step 6: Prepare aggressively for your interview

Crawford, who has prepared countless clients for interviews, says the key to successful interviewing is to relax. When you’re overly nervous in an interview, a principal or hiring committee may wonder how you’ll handle yourself in front of a noisy classroom filled with children just itching to test you. Make sure you’re well educated about the school where you’re interviewing—information like standardized test scores, special needs programs, and the percentage of students on free or reduced-price lunch is reported by each public school to their home state. It is also helpful to show familiarity with the community where the school resides. Many school districts standardize their interview questions and certain topics—such as differentiated instruction, lesson planning, technology in the classroom, and classroom management—are covered frequently. Be ready to discuss them.

Sample Interview Questions
  • Why did you decide to become a teacher?
  • Have you ever taken care of someone? Did you enjoy it?
  • Are you a positive and energetic person? (Give an example to back up your answer)
  • If I were your principal and we were setting goals for next year, what would they be?
  • Tell me about yourself (Remember, Social Media is accessible, so don’t lie)
  • How do you feel if a student doesn’t meet a deadline?
  • What is your idea of quality physical education?
  • How could you help improve the school wellness atmosphere for our school?

Jonathan Ratliff, Student Rep
West Virginia University

Avg. PE Teacher Salary

Physical Education teacher’s salary is largely dependent on experience, years of service and level of education.  The average entry level salaries for West Virginia are:

Bachelors Degree: $34,406
Masters Degree: $37, 346
Doctorate Degree: $41,134

Related Careers

Physical Education, Health Education and Recreation leaders posses skills that are often in high demand in the private and public entities outside of the school environment.  Some other related career paths open to teachers specializing in health and physical activity are:

Exercise physiologist
Recreational therapist
Physical therapist
Nutrition and health technician
Athletic trainer / gym instructor
Home healthcare
Fitness trainer
Aerobics or kinesiology instructor

Other Professional Associations

Physical Education and Health Education teachers benefit from membership in professional associations such as WVAHPERD.  Here are a few other associations that are available to PE and Health teachers:

Society of Health and Physical Educators

American Kinesiology Association

Association for Physical Education

American Heart Association

American College of Sports Medicine

School Nutrition Association

American Physical Therapy Association

American Lung Association

American Council on Exercise

Other Resources