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Preparing students for college and career

This is an excerpt from Building Character, Community, and a Growth Mindset in Physical Education With Web Resource by Leigh Anderson & Donald Glover.

Having a growth mindset and strong emotional intelligence are key to success in the gym and on the field. These traits are also necessary for excelling in the world at large. To help students and athletes maximize their performance, teachers and coaches must understand the factors that contribute to success and the qualities needed in order to be successful, most of which are outlined in this chapter.That understanding can be developed in part with help from the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA). One of the most influential forces in youth and high school sport today, PCA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to developing "better athletes, better people" by "...providing resources for youth and high school sports coaches, parents, administrators, and student-athletes...that help...create a positive, character-building youth sports culture" (, para. 1). PCA recognizes the value that sport can and should add to kids' lives, and the organization is transforming beliefs and philosophies among parents and coaches across the country.

Of course, the win-at-all-costs mentality still exists, but it is increasingly viewed as unacceptable, both in sport and in life. Instead, the emphasis has shifted to character building, and winning is more often approached as a secondary goal. Thanks to organizations such as PCA, more and more coaches are recognizing that their teams have a better experience—and a better chance of winning—when athletes feel cared about, respectfully challenged, and emotionally connected.

Physical education teachers need to follow suit. By teaching students how to set and reach goals and how to be respectful competitors and supportive teammates, you are setting them up for success far beyond the gym. Many physical educators are lobbying for daily physical education classes due to the increase in childhood obesity and disease. The negative health trends are not going to improve simply by providing increased daily activity. The trends will improve only if students are taught how to lead healthy lifestyles. In order to make a case for daily physical education, teachers need to demonstrate the many ways in which physical education can positively impact lives physically, socially, and emotionally. Physical education is the best possible subject in school to promote healthy lifestyles. The concepts associated with teamwork, competing with integrity, and goal-setting naturally develop leaders and build career-readiness skills.

A study featured on the LinkedIn Official Blog by Allison Schnidman (2014) highlighted the top traits desired by Fortune 500 companies. Allison and her team asked over 1,400 hiring managers from Fortune 500 companies in the United States to rank which skills and personality traits they consider to be the most important when hiring young professionals.

The results indicated the following as the top skills desired in young hires:

  1. Problem solver: able to see and create solutions when faced with challenges
  2. Good learner: able to learn new concepts quickly, adaptable

And the top personality traits desired were identified as the following:

  1. Collaborative: works well with others; good team player
  2. Works hard: has strong work ethic; goes above and beyond
  3. Positive attitude: demonstrates optimism; maintains positive energy

Physical education teachers and sport coaches need to lead the way in facilitating these skills in students and athletes; there's a natural connection.

Learn more about Building Character, Community, and a Growth Mindset in Physical Education.

More Excerpts From Building Character