5 Steps to a PDHPE teaching career you will love

career growth mindset pdhpe teacher Jul 31, 2023

Loving your work is integral to a successful and gratifying career as a PDHPE teacher. In this article, I am going to tell you exactly how to love your PDHPE teaching career so that you enjoy your work and develop your passion for it.

While many believe that if they follow their passion they will find a job they love, I believe, as does Professor Cal Newport1 that this is actually bad advice. Instead, I believe you develop a passion for what you are doing by:

  1. Developing career capital
  2. Embracing the craftsmanship mindset
  3. Gaining autonomy and control
  4. Aligning work with purpose, and
  5. Cultivating a growth mindset.

One of the most common misconceptions among educators is the "passion trap." The belief that you should follow your passion to find a fulfilling career. However, Newport argues that this mindset is limiting and unrealistic.

I am a perfect case in point. When I left school teaching was the last thing I wanted to do. I was keen to be a Sports Physiotherapist, but that is not what life had planned for me. After doing Exercise and Sports Science I found myself needing some extra money to pay rent. All of my family were teachers and I knew a casual day would pay me $400. So, I enrolled to get my Dip. Ed. in PDHPE and applied for casual work. I didn;t like teaching at first, but as I began to apply these 5 steps it became my passion and I am very fulfilled as an educator.


Step 1 - Building Career Capital in PDHPE Teaching

Career capital is the collection of rare and valuable skills and/or expertise that make you stand out. As a PDHPE teacher, you can enhance your career capital by continually improving your teaching. To be a good teacher there are many skills you need to develop, from developing engaging classroom lessons to managing students in your classroom or giving great feedback. But to stand out you need to have rare and valuable skills in teaching PDHPE.

Some of the rare and valuable skills/expertise could include:

  • being an expert in student well-being,
  • Embedding great literacy strategies in programs and adjusting them for your students,
  • being able to use data to differentiate your classroom learning strategies, or
  • developing your skills in each of the core areas of planning, delivering and reflecting to the point that your lessons are superb and you are getting fantastic feedback from teachers and students alike.

Staying updated with the latest research on best practices and participating in professional development opportunities will help you to develop your capital. By investing in your professional growth, you not only become more effective as an educator but also find greater satisfaction in your work.

Personally, I have focused on developing my career capital in the following ways:

  • I volunteered to be part of a research project at my school where we dived deep into our student literacy data, gathered teaching and learning strategies and then trained other teachers to use this in their classrooms.
  • I love watching other teachers teach and having them watch me. I learn from them as much as I can to continuously improve my classroom practices. I also pair this with reading educational books and applying them.
  • I embraced flipped learning, read books, went to conferences, presented at conferences and ran workshops, completed and created my own online courses, and helped over 50 teachers flip their PDHPE classrooms across a whole year providing them with coaching and resources to support them. I then received feedback from them and presented this at an international conference in Canberra.
  • I put my hand up to be part of the PDHPE TA as a regional rep and present at their conferences. I also became a board member for ACHPER NSW, ran full-day workshops for them and presented at their conferences. All to develop capital through networking, my own development and growth.
  • I have also become a Google for Education Certified Teacher, Trainer, and Innovator. I regularly network with other Google Educators around the world, and present at EduTech, and Google Summits for teachers. 

I am not listing these things to brag but as an example of the types of things you can develop or ways to develop your capital. Become an ICT expert, specialise in literacy, differentiation, or formative assessment. The options are enormous, just select something and get started on your own capital.


Step 2 - Embracing the Craftsmanship Mindset

The craftsmanship mindset is all about working hard to develop your craft. It encourages you to focus on the quality and excellence of your work and to continually drive to get better. It can be likened to an elite athlete. The only way to get there is to work hard at developing the skills necessary and not letting up. As a PDHPE teacher, you can adopt this mindset by setting high standards for yourself and your students. Instead of just going through the motions, you can take pride in refining your teaching methods, designing engaging lesson plans, and evaluating student progress thoughtfully. By valuing teaching as craftsmanship, you can find satisfaction in seeing continual improvement in your skills and in your student's development.

There are many ways to embrace the craftmanship mindset. But here are just a few suggestions:

  • Attend as many professional development opportunities as possible face-to-face. This helps to grown your network, and improve your skills
  • Apply to present at conferences or to run workshops for an organisation. Feel free to email me if you have an idea for a workshop you would like to run for PDHPE teachers. I would love to help you do it.
  • Read! You can learn a lot from many of the gurus around the world simply by reading their books. I love reading educational books, I constantly listen to books on Audible and enjoy spending my nights reading on the couch.
  • Join or create your own teacher development group. Read books together, and get into each other's classrooms. Start giving and receiving feedback as much as you can. Don't see it as judgemental, see it as your opportunity to improve even if you are really good already.


Step 3 - Gaining Autonomy and Control

A sense of autonomy and control over your work is a vital piece of job satisfaction. As a PDHPE teacher you can seek more autonomy by taking on leadership roles, contributing to curriculum development, and spearheading initiatives within your school or across your district. When you have the freedom to implement your ideas and make a positive impact on your students and school community, you are more likely to love your job.

Now I know for some of you this may not be possible. There are plenty of executive out there who crush those under them and do not support and develop their capacity. Instead, they shut down your ideas. Generally, these people are insecure and worry that others might do better than them and put their job at risk. If your head teacher or Deputy is unsupportive, seek out another staff member who is, and who you could use to grow your capacity. Even if it is a peer, you can read and grow together, doing classroom observations and more. 

If you are an executive, please look to build capacity in those around you, support them and give them the autonomy they deserve as professionals. I had a fantastic principal who mentored me for 4-5 years while I worked under her. She gave me a lot of autonomy and helped develop my capacity. She let me attend professional developments all the time, she helped me implement what I learnt and made sure I knew she wanted my betterment. 


Step 4 - Aligning Work with Purpose

Most teachers, especially PDHPE teachers, have no issues identifying the purpose in their work. Our students mean the world to us. We work tirelessly to help them grow as young people into adulthood. We try and prepare them for the real world and care more about them as people than their marks or even their behaviour. Many of my favourite students were my worst behaved (I loved their spunk).

Having a solid purpose provides meaning to the everyday tasks of teaching. You can remind yourself more and more of your purpose and meaning by decorating your classroom and your desk or office with things that remind you of that purpose. Personally, I used to keep the letters students wrote me as they graduated, or photos of a significant group of students I taught.

By reflecting on the significant impact you have on students' lives and your communities, you can find a deeper sense of fulfilment in your work. Integrating purpose into lesson plans and extracurricular activities can further enhance the learning experience for students and you alike.


Step 5 - Cultivating a Growth Mindset

If you don't know what a growth mindset is and you are teaching, please go and read or listen to Carol Dweck's book Mindset: Changing The Way You Think To Fulfil Your Potential. Adopting a growth mindset is essential for both your personal and professional development. As a PDHPE teacher you can embrace a growth mindset by viewing challenges in your professional life as opportunities for growth. A growth mindset helps you learn from your setbacks, and continuously seek ways to improve your teaching.

A growth mindset is key for you as a teacher to developing a career you love. I have had many set backs and even got myself into trouble at various times in my career. I have been called into the principal's office to be reprimanded more than once, and each time it improved me as a teacher. It helped me to grow, because I saw it as an opportunity to get better, rather than getting defensive, I asked for help to improve.


Finding love and fulfilment in your career as a PDHPE teacher lies not in the pursuit of an elusive passion but in building career capital, embracing the craftsmanship mindset, gaining autonomy and control, aligning work with purpose, and cultivating a growth mindset. By focusing on these aspects, you can excel in your profession, create a positive impact on your students, and develop a profound love for your meaningful and rewarding work. As you continue to hone your expertise and embrace the journey of continuous improvement, you can find a lasting love for the work you do.



  1. Cal Newport - So Good They Can't Ignore You - Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love
  2. Carol Dweck - Mindset: Changing The Way You Think To Fulfil Your Potential

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