Many kids approach gym class with anxiety or dread, so Megan Petersen works hard to help her students realize gym is, as she calls it, “the best place to be.”
Petersen is in her 22nd year of teaching, 18 of them at Hamilton Elementary. As an elementary teacher, Petersen has many students from the time they’re three or four through fifth grade.
“Thankfully, I have a long-term relationship that allows me to build trust,” she said. “We struggle through new things together. I’m able to track, teach, and facilitate learning and mastery over years instead of months.”
To help kids through the tough moments, Petersen builds a positive atmosphere in the class. Students are encouraged to think in a growth mindset, so “I’m so bad at this” becomes “I’m still learning.” When students are doing their workout stations at the start of class, one workout station is dedicated high-fiving the other students and encouraging one another.
That positivity spreads outside the gym as well. Petersen is a behavior coach for the building’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program, which focuses on building that supportive, successful culture all over the school.