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How P.E. Teachers Can Benefit From PCA Concepts And Training In Social Emotional Learning

by Brett Nichols


Recently, during the uncertainty of COVID-19, athletic departments and schools nationwide are asking how they can support their teachers and coaches during this time. Some have even asked if training from PCA would be a good fit for teachers, specifically PE Teachers that often teach sport. We had one of our trainers, Brett Nichols, take a stab at a response...

PCA training is great for PE teachers because coaching and teaching are extremely similar— some might say they are the same, they just exist in slightly different environments. Like the coaches that PCA trains, PE teachers are working to help kids be the best they can be in whatever activity or sport they are involved in on any given day. This concept of giving your best applies off the field of play and out of the classroom into whatever it is that those kids do.

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PCA concepts are designed specifically to help kids deal with mistakes (i.e. Mistake Ritual), focus on their own individual improvement (through the ELM tree of mastery), and learn to respect all others all of the time (ROOTS).

Most of the really good teachers that I know are not worried about every student being the very best softball player or great at archery or perfect at the sport of the day. But the best teachers are exceptional at encouraging their students to do their best in all circumstances, to bounce back when things are difficult, and rise to the occasion when challenges present themselves. And then top teachers work tirelessly to genuinely support all of their students especially when each student is giving great effort. At PCA our workshops and tools are designed to encourage coaches to look at the big picture – to teach life lessons in addition to striving to win. This is directly applicable to what PE teachers are doing every day. They are working hard to maximize activity for their students, put them in situations where they can be successful, and teach them how to use skills like critical thinking while they are physically engaged in an activity. Learning more about these PCA concepts will help reinforce positive and effective teaching methods that your teachers might already be using, and it will allow them to reflect on what they could do to make an even larger impact in the lives of their students.

Social-emotional learning is directly related to this. Using PCA concepts like a mistake ritual, we can help students with self-awareness and maintaining focus on the learning process as opposed to a particular outcome or what other kids might be doing. We talk about things like Dr. Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset, which can help students in a PE classroom increase their resilience and have a long term positive effect in their lives. A PCA workshop with one of PCA’s outstanding trainers would be a great way for you and your PE teachers to examine ways in which they can apply these PCA concepts on a regular basis in their classrooms. PCA also offers tips and tools to work with kids online (, you could get started by sending an email blast with a link to something that you think is particularly relevant to your teachers. This could be a great way for you to start the conversation about PCA with your staff.

Brett was a highly decorated three-sport athlete and captain in high school (cross country, basketball & track & field) just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He pursued both a track and basketball career in college, before focusing primarily on track & field.  Brett has been coaching for more than a decade; primarily coaching basketball, with experiences at the youth, high school and college levels. Brett has a Master’s degree in Sport Studies & a coaching certificate from Kent State University and a PhD in Sport and Exercise Science, with an emphasis area in Social Psychology of Sport from the University of Northern Colorado.

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