Characteristics of a Successful Physical Education Teacher

A PE teacher in a huddle with a group of her students

Ideally, education should nurture the healthy development of the whole child, including their mind, body and spirit. Although it’s not considered one of the core subjects, physical education (PE) is indeed critical for elementary and secondary students. If you have a passion for physical activity, sports and for teaching children, you could make a great physical education teacher. Read more to learn about the important characteristics of a PE teacher.

Table of Contents:

Interpersonal Skills

PE teachers do hands-on instruction at every class, which means it’s essential for them to have advanced interpersonal skills. This goes beyond communication know-how. Interpersonal skills also include the ability to make genuine connections with others, to see things from their perspective, and to be sensitive to the emotional needs of others. Great physical education teachers intuitively understand how to convey respectfulness, positivity and cooperativeness.


Just like teachers of academic subjects, PE teachers work on physical education programs and lesson plans, but great PE teachers collaborate with the students' academic teachers to align physical exercises with the content that they're learning in other classes. They recognize that all students have varying athletic abilities and that sometimes, activities need to be modified to accommodate the topics being addressed by their other teachers. Successful PE teachers should also adapt their instruction style to help every student fully understand key concepts.


Students are much more excited about going to class when they know that their teacher is too. Great PE teachers strive to inspire a love of sports and nutrition in their students. They also create a welcoming environment in which every student feels respected and valued, both by the teacher and by other students.

Athletic Ability

Although it isn’t necessary for PE teachers to have the physical prowess of professional athletes, they do tend to be physically fit, as it’s important to set a good example of health and wellness for the students. PE teachers should also be reasonably skilled at playing the sports they’re teaching to the students.


Students respond well to teachers who exhibit creativity in lesson planning and implementation. It encourages students to have fun and actively engage in the class. Great physical education teachers aren’t afraid to break the mold every now and then. They’re willing to try new things, solicit feedback from their students and develop meaningful lesson plans.


Aside from family members, teachers are some of the most influential individuals in a child’s life. Students will remember their teachers and the core lessons imparted to them long after they grow up and start careers of their own. As a future PE teacher, your students might not remember everything you say about the rules of flag football or the proper way to block a goal in floor hockey. What they will always remember, however, is the lessons in character you can teach them. These lessons are best taught by example, so strive to model the traits you wish to see in your own students, such as good sportsmanship, respectfulness, empathy and compassion.

You can become an inspiring role model for elementary, middle or high school students with a career in physical education. Click the Request Information button on this page to learn about our Bachelor of Science in Physical Education degree program. Grand Canyon University looks forward to helping you establish a solid foundation for your future career pursuits.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.