Interview- SHAPE 2020 National Teacher of the Year Brian Hull

To become the SHAPE National Teacher of the Year is the highest honor a PE teacher can receive. Thousands of people across the country strive to earn this award. So what sets people apart and helps them stand out? We had a chance to "sit down with" (the COVID-19 version of it at least) the 2020 recipient, Brian Hull for his take on teaching.

Mr. Hull teaches grades 6-12 in Denver, CO. In the fall of 2020 he will be entering his 8th year of teaching. He is a recipient of the Teacher of the Year award from SHAPE Colorado in 2018; then won the SHAPE America awards in 2020.

PE Coach: What steps were involved in earning this honor?

Brian Hull: At your state level, you need to be nominated to be a Teacher of the Year. If you “accept” the nomination, you then need to put together many documents, such as your resume, letters of recommendation, and a lengthy written essay where you answer 4-5 prompts in specific detail. When you win your state’s Teacher of the Year award, then you are eligible to apply for SHAPE America’s District Teacher of the Year award, which consists of similar documents as the state’s process did, such as writing another lengthy essay responding to additional prompts. When you win theDistrict award from SHAPE America, then you’re up for National Teacher of the Year! This consists of sending in a video recording of your teaching (20 minutes), an interview with the selection committee (30 minutes), and a lengthy write up on the lesson recording you submitted (pre video notes, video notes, learning taking place after the video, etc.)

PE Coach: What made you want to be a teacher?

Brian Hull: My high school P.E. teacher really influenced my brother and I to become P.E. teachers. He took us under his “wing” our junior and senior years. As athletes, we obviously loved sports and loved working with kids in a mentorship role. We always thought teaching like our high school P.E. teacher would be cool!

PE Coach: Are there any conferences or conventions you recommend to other teachers?

Brian Hull: I recommend to always attend your state SHAPE conference and the national SHAPE America conference if you can afford it!

PE Coach: As a PE teacher it can be difficult to assess all of our students in a timely fashion. Are there any tips or tricks that you’ve found work best?

Brian Hull: Yes! For skill assessments, I love to use the app Idoceo on my iPad. Through this app, I can quickly score students and notate their performance. For cognitive assessments, I love to give my students assessments via Google Forms-the assessments are graded for you after you create the quizzes and setup the answer key. I also love to use the P.E. Metric rubrics from SHAPE America. Lastly, the use of pedometers and heart rate monitors are a game changer when it comes to assessment students’ effort and understanding of the RPE scale.

PE Coach: What do you think is the most difficult aspect of your job? And what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Brian Hull: The most difficult aspect of my job would be two things. The first thing I’d say involves classroom management. It can be challenging to ensure that all students are setup for success and behaving appropriately so that my instruction and others’ learning can be as best as possible. Secondly, motivating some students and having them understand the importance of physical education can be challenging at times. The most rewarding aspect of my job is giving a high quality physical education program to students who are underserved and highly impacted. I love introducing activities to them that they’ve seen or heard of before. Seeing the students smiling and having fun and using my class as an “outlet” is very rewarding!

PE Coach: Do you have a type of technology that you like to use in class?

Brian Hull: Yes, I LOVE using technology! I use heart rate monitors and pedometers every day in class. I also use gifs, google slides, edpuzzle, mentimeter, google forms, and apps on my iPad on a consistent basis. Technology is a complete game changer!

PE Coach: How do you incorporate other subjects into your lessons?

Brian Hull: I usually do this during my warm ups. I have collected lots and lots of warm ups throughout the last two years by our gracious colleagues on social media. For example, I have warm ups that allow students to spell words and each letter represents an exercise to complete. I also have warm ups that involve decks of playing cards and students are asked to add up all the values on their cards together and then use a scale to convert their total scores. In flag football, I always like compare running routes to 90 degree angles, for example.

PE Coach: How do you prevent burn out?

Brian Hull: To be completely honest, this is my #1 weakness. I am frequently burnt out from all the work that I find myself doing. I need to get much better and self-care and work-life balance.

PE Coach: How do you handle disgruntled parents?

Brian Hull: Of course, I always treat them with respect and listen to their complaint(s)/problem(s) first. I like to agree with them and tell them that I understand where they are coming from first. This tends to calm them down and then we are able to have a conversation that is very successful.

PE Coach: What is your biggest piece of advice to new teachers?

Brian Hull: Rituals, routines, and procedures are so important! Don’t worry if you need to practice rituals and routines with your classes over and over. In the long run, it will establish a very strong learning environment and will save you so much time in the end. Also, relationships with your students are so important as well. If you have strong relationships with your students, they will go the extra mile for you!

PE Coach: What is the funniest student quote you think you’ve heard?

Brian Hull: “Mr. Hull, you need to go to the locker room. Somebody went to the bathroom on the floor. I don’t think they were feeling well.” I go into the locker room and it was a crumpled up brown paper towel. 

We would like to thank Mr. Hull for taking the time to speak with us and especially for his final piece of wisdom:

"Building a successful program takes time; in fact, many years. Don’t ever give up and don’t ever stop working hard. The hours that you put in today will make a difference in the future, regardless how meaningless they seem today. Hard work is the most important thing! Reach out if you need any support!"

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