July 30, 2023

Creating Your Physical Education Program Pitch

Imagine you're at your state/province Department of Education building.

You've got a PD session at the top floor and you're just about to hop into the elevator. You hear the "ding", wait for people to step out, and then walk into the empty elevator.

Just as the doors are closing, you hear someone say "hold the door". As you do so, in walks the Secretary/Minister of Education! They go to press the button for the top floor, but see that you've already done so.

You introduce yourself and tell them that you teach physical education. They ask you to tell them about your program to learn more about the value of PE.

It's a 60 second elevator ride to the top floor. What do you say?

Ok, so this is a bit of an absurd situation but I wanted to share it anyway because creating a 60 second elevator pitch for your program – one that is both effective and persuasive – is a powerful reflection exercise.

This is because preparing such a pitch requires you to have a clear understanding of the vision that drives your program, the mission it aims to achieve, and clear examples of how you approach your teaching in ways that are aligned to those goals.

In other words, a physical education program pitch helps you gain clarity in regard to the what, why, and how of your goals.

Zoomed Out Reflection

An effective elevator pitch helps the person you are pitching to see the whole picture of your efforts in as few words as possible.

To deliver such a clear vision, you'll need to zoom way out.

Let me borrow an analogy from a book I've gone back to time and time again: David Allen's "Getting Things Done".

Reflection is a critical component of professional development. It helps us identify loose ends, opportunities for growth, and ways in which we can better align ourselves to the vision we have for this world.

A good practice for professional reflection is to schedule time for "zooming out": engaging in higher-level reflection to see the bigger picture.

Although David Allen uses an airplane analogy to discuss the different levels for reflection, I'm a space nerd and prefer to use a space one.

For teachers engaging in reflection on their teaching, here are the levels that I would invite you to consider:

  • Earth. At the ground level, we reflect on the immediate tasks that are on our plate. This can include anything from answering emails, ordering equipment, scheduling meetings, etc. Oftentimes, things at the ground level become so cluttered that we can get stuck there and have a hard time gaining the momentum we need to reach the escape velocity that allows us to even begin zooming out during our reflection. Here's a simple strategy that I use when I find myself feeling overwhelmed and need to clear some headspace in order to get going again.
  • Troposphere. The troposphere level is where we reflect on current and upcoming lesson plans. Learning targets, activities, visuals, special guests or outings... all of those things live within this level.
  • Stratosphere. The stratosphere is where our current units belong. Managing assessment data, evaluating lesson effectiveness, preparing grades are all tasks that we think about and plan for at this level.
  • Mesosphere. The mesosphere level is where you focus on your annual curriculum map for each grade that you teach. Which units make up each grade's curriculum map? Which grade-level outcomes get prioritized? What knowledge, skills, and understandings are being explored, reviewed, or mastered?
  • Thermosphere. The thermosphere is where you paint the big picture of your physical education program. What is a graduate of your program able to know, do, or understand? How does each grade's scope and sequence build upon or support the grades that come before or after? What kinds of experiences and or memories will your students be leaving with after they graduate from your program? How did your program help them grow as both movers and people over the course of the years that they spent with you?
  • Exosphere. The exosphere is where the "why" of your program resides. Over the course of your career, you will commit countless hours, calories, and neurons to the work that you do with your students. Your work as a teacher will play a huge role in defining who you are as a person. It is essential that you (YOU!) gain clarity – through deep reflection – on the vision that drives your teaching. What is the role that physical education will continue to play in your students' lives long after they have graduated from your school? How will your teaching serve your students when they are 20, 30, 50, or 80 years old? What is the positive, lasting impact that you hope to have on their journeys?

Reflection is key to gaining clarity, and clarity is essential for effective communication and advocacy.

However you decide to go about it – whether it be a weekly reflection session, annual thinking retreat, or a psychedelic-infused vision quest at Joshua Tree – make reflection a part of your professional growth plan.

It is the only way that you will ever be able to close the gap between where you are now in your teaching and where you want to be. It is also the key to delivering a killer elevator pitch.

Speaking of which, let's dive into that.

The Components of an Effective Elevator Pitch.

An effective elevator pitch communicates three key ideas to your audience:

  • Why: Why does your program exist? What vision are you working towards?
  • What: What approach have you selected for your program to fulfill the vision you have set in your sights?
  • How: How have you structured your program to create alignment between everyday lessons and your vision?

Aside from being concise (remember: 60s or less!), your pitch should also have the following characteristics:

  • Accessible: The language you use to deliver your pitch should be easily understood by all audiences. Try to stay clear from too much insider educational jargon that might confused and/or annoy the people you are pitching to.
  • Memorable: Your pitch should have a memorable tagline: something that is "sticky" making it likely for your audience to be able to share it with others on their own time (e.g. "The purpose of our physical education program is to help students get the most out of life.")
  • Polished: Your pitch should be polished in the sense that you are able to deliver it with confidence. That said, it should also be human and warm enough that it doesn't just sound like you are regurgitating a script.
  • Passionate: Finally, people love passion. Compose a pitch that you are proud of, one that really connects to your purpose and authentic self, and you will be able to convey passion whenever you deliver it.

When you speak with confidence, passion, and clear language, audiences tend to listen. If nothing else, you get to showcase that you are someone worth listening to* and investing in.

*Side note: every person is inherently worthy and deserves to be heard. Unfortunately, many decision-makers based everything they do on, well, decision making. To "decide" literally means "to cut off". If you cannot deliver your pitch in a way that captivates your audience, they may very well cut you off.

Planning For Possible Outcomes

Realistically, 90% of the times that you deliver your program pitch will be the intention of simply informing your audience.

I worked in a private school for seven years. Aside from our two annual open house events, we often had potential families visit the school on a regular basis. When they did so, stopping by the gym was always on their tour of the school. This means that, in the middle of teaching, I would have to go over, introduce myself, deliver my pitch, and then get back to teaching my students. It became second-nature for me to be able to step into that headspace and let families know about the purpose and structure of my program.

However, there are times when your pitch has other motives: to persuade decision-makers to increase their support of your program.

In these situations, your ultimate goal is to deliver an "ask": a specific request for support and/or resources that will help you overcome current obstacles that are in the way of you achieving your vision.

Just like your pitch, your ask needs to be planned, practiced, and ready to deliver at all times. It should have all of the same characteristics of your pitch and you need to be able to deliver it with confidence (if you don't ask, you don't get).

Here's the catch: before you get to your ask, there's usually a "follow up" conversation that happens after your pitch. Follow up conversations can be intimidating, because you're basically having your program picked apart by someone who has the power to support or impede its progress.

However, knowing about these follow up conversations and seeing them as a stepping stone towards delivering your ask means that it is worthwhile to prepare for them.

Here are two areas I would invite you to explore, reflect on, and prepare for in the eventuality that a follow up conversation with a decision-maker whose interest you have piqued may occur:

  • Reasoning: How is your program evidence-based? What research supports the approach you have decided to go with to chase your vision? This is an opportunity for you to show that your program is founded on best practices and aligned with current research findings. It also is an opportunity for you to shine as a professional.
  • Evidence: What are clear, day-to-day examples from your teaching that serve as proof that your program is aligned to your vision? How are you bringing best practices and current research to life through your teaching? What could be examples from your teaching that could make your school, district, or state/province look good.

By visualizing the entire journey towards scoring what you need to help your program grow and planning for each step along the way, you can build your capacity for advocacy and successfully persuade decision-makers to support your program.

Putting It Into Practice

Ok, before we get to far ahead of ourselves here, let's start at the start: nailing a solid elevator pitch for your program.

To help you practice your program pitch, I am inviting you to:

  • Create a draft of your program pitch.
  • Record yourself delivering your pitch.
  • Share your recording with three people you trust and ask for feedback.
  • Implement the feedback that you've received and re-record yourself delivering your pitch (repeat as many times as you need).

I recognize that this practice may be uncomfortable for some, but I would like to remind you that growth is uncomfortable. There is no reason to believe that you do not have the capacity to deliver an earth-shaking program pitch and I hope this post helps you unleash all of that power you've got inside of you!

Happy Teaching!

Joey Feith
Joey Feith is a physical education teacher based out of Nova Scotia and the founder of
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