PE Class, Untied Shoes, and Superheroes

I’ve been teaching PE for more than 20 years. Throughout those years I’ve steadily grown as an educator building an extensive bank of knowledge in regard to learning styles, differentiation, aged-appropriate curriculum, and how I relate to each student. I’ve learned that each child is unique in his/her physical ability, personality, drive and fitness level, and background.

Also, over the last 20 years, I’ve experienced a few common situations that PE teachers and students face in PE class. Perhaps you can relate. Here are a few:


  • Untied shoelaces: There are two categories of students with chronically untied laces.
  1. The first is the slip-on student in 3rd grade or higher who simply does not seem to care (or notice) that his shoes are loose and his aglets are destroyed due to neglect. You can often hear this student clumsily clunking down the hallway, almost a little proud that they have dodged the two minutes needed to tie their shoes, essentially transforming the said shoes into slip-ons (Crocs with tread). Even as this student stumbles across the playground during recess, he/she (mostly he) refuses to tie his laces.
  2. The other, a more common student who falls into this “untied” category, is the Rookie, usually in 1st and 2nd grade. Rookies are always proud of their shoe tying ability and for a brief time after learning will refuse to allow anyone else to help them. Alas, due to inexperience, loose finger placement, and impatience, their laces will quickly become untied in a matter of minutes, thus graduating them to the slip-on category.

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  • Respiratory Difficulties. As a former asthma sufferer, mostly caused by animals and seasonal allergies, I have a soft spot in my heart for students with this health challenge. I can relate to the struggle – especially during the winter months and allergy seasons. Many times these students will refuse to slow down in PE causing an attack to ensue.

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  • Cold Season. Growing up in the colorful Northeastern United States, I thought I had seen pretty much every shade of green and yellow. That is until my first few winters as a PE teacher during the cold season. Yikes! “Coach, can I have a tissue? Nevermind.”, as a sleeve swipes across his face.

No Uggs


  • Boot Season – There’s a “holiday season”, “hunting season”, “cold season”, and now, in schools a “boot season.” Yes, “Boot Season”, and December 1st has been the official kickoff date. I realize they’re stylish, have a high ankle for support, are nice and fuzzy inside, and it’s winter and feet get cold. However, from my experience, I also know these hazardous fashion statements are just too clunky and unsafe. PLEASE STOP WEARING THEM ON PE DAYS!!!!!!
  • “My parents forgot…” – Students are constantly tattling on their parents, blaming them for the forgotten lunch, unfinished homework, and in my case, the boots that are on their own feet. It goes something like this: “My mom forgot I had PE today, so I wore my boots – plus it’s cold, and the boots are new, and…” Student Accountability is a MUST!

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a Legion of Superheroes on-call to help us battle such common occurrences? 

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Ultimate Lacer With lightning-fast hands and feet, Ultimate Lacer enters and exits the gym in a flash, triple knotting every pair of sneakers, without a trace.
Nebuliza (Ne-bue-lie’-za) Nebuliza has the ability to spray a mist of Albuteral to prevent wheezing before, during, and after PE like a pixie spreads fairy dust to fly.


Mucusman By waving his white glove in front of a student ‘s face, mucus and snot are instantaneously wiped into oblivion, freeing sinus, lungs, and nose of congestion.
Captain Accountability Donned in a cape, holding his accountability shield, Captain Accountability deflects all misdirected blame and transforms the negative energy into a heavy dose of accountability.
2E (Excuse Extinguisher) As students approach the track for a timed-run, 2E places both his index fingers in each of his ears while humming loudly, drowning out the rapid fire of excuses. This, combined with his hyperfocus, filters out all “made up” excuses while protecting the legitimate ones.

I would enjoy hearing about such common encounters that you experience as a teacher or parent. Is there a Superhero who can remedy the situation? Let me know!

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12 Comments on “PE Class, Untied Shoes, and Superheroes

  1. Oh yes…the untied shoes, a malady that still follows me into retirement. How many times have I seen untied shoes on children and adults, total strangers and am immediately thrown into a social dilemma…do I tell them to tie their shoes as I once had the duty to do as a teacher? Just recently, I was receiving a blessing from a Bishop and while my gaze was cast downward in reverence – all I could see and focus on was his UNTIED shoe! Yes, I felt compelled to tell him… and did.
    Don’t get me started on mucus!!!

    • One a teacher, always a teacher! In regard to the Bishop, perhaps next time you could kneel down in front of him in prayer WHILE tying his shoe.

  2. Hi Justin,
    Thanks for your entry! I laughed out loud … or Lolled! 🙂
    I am a P.E. teacher now for 17 years and I think we must teach the same children! 🙂
    I have to add another super hero and it would be “The Icer”. EVERYthing needs ice these days! It used to be a band aid took care of everything. Now, ice is the miracle tear stopper, bump fixer, ego protector and justifier of epic ( in their sweet minds ) tragedies. The Icer would just have to lay a hand on the hurt spot and in seconds, smiles reappear :). And there would be no need for sitting out for 10 minutes to nurse a shoulder that was tagged a little too hard. Of course, if it really does need our attention, all the care is at the ready, but can’t class go on if someone trips and just has to get up and brush themselves off for a couple of seconds? A little nod of reassurance, a wink or a smile…. should be all it takes, right? …. and can’t the tagged tell the tagger to be careful to tag gently?….or is it such an injustice that it has to be the teacher address the tagger?…. right?

    Ok…. There is another super hero, for those that forget their gym clothes because Monday was a holiday and now they are all mixed up …. the D.R. (Daily Reminder). This hero reminds the student, expecially in junior high that it is still Tuesday even though Monday was a holiday! Anytime there is a change in routine, the D.R. wispers “P.E. today” repetetively in their ears as soon as they awake, and gets louder and louder until they pack their gym clothes.

    But the best thing about being the P.E. teacher is the bright smiles and fun chats from happy children who had a great time in your classes and know you care. They are my High Five super heroes! 🙂

    So, through the untied laces, the boots, the excuses and the shnozzy noses….

    Keep Calm and Play on!
    Cathy 🙂

    • Cathy,

      Wow! LOL back atcha! “The Icer” and the “Daily Reminder” are absolutely brilliant. Thanks for playing along and putting an even bigger smile on my face!I think you may have to write the sequel to my post!!!!! Isn’t being a PE Teacher GREAT?

  3. Justin, thanks for the laugh and great post!
    Another super hero that always saves the day in my PE classes, is Water Boy (Adam Sandler) or H2O Girl (Whoopi Goldberg). He or she would definitely partner with “The Icer” to heal students in a matter of seconds. I have always told my students that the gym water fountain has healing powers and I would estimate that our water fountain has healed over a thousand students in my career. Back to our super heroes – Water Boy and Mrs. H2O would instantly appear when a student was “injured” and squirt water from a Camel Back to heal their ailment.

  4. Don’t forget about the ever popular middle school hero, Captain Combo. The good Captain rushes into locker rooms and opens locker combinations in a flash. Therefore, allowing students and teachers to start class in an efficient manner.

    • I actually needed Captain Combo at the gym the other day when MY lock malfunctioned. Great addition to our growing team of Superheroes. Thanks for playing along.

  5. Justin,

    Great blog! Very funny and as an elementary PE teacher I can relate. I have a few additions if you don’t mind.

    How about Captain Boo Boo who can fix the tiny microscopic injuries that student find when things get tough in class.

    Container man who can swoop in at an instant and catch all those nasty fluids that come out of kids and hit the gym floor.

    Aqua man he serves a similar role as Captain Boo Boo. He can instantly deliver liquid hydration to all those student who suddenly need a drink when things get challenging.

    That’s all I can think of now. Thanks again for sharing!

    • I love your thinking EriK. Keep them coming. I want to write a follow-up blog using the comments. Great ideas. Hilarious.

  6. I certainly can relate to ALL of these superheros (I have taught for over 20 yrs now) and I have one to add from teaching up North, and that would be the Snotline Guy who comes in and cleans up those hugs with the “wipe” of the nose at the end of the hug! …. that lands on your pants! Who has Kleenex when you need it, right? I now teach in FL …. not quite as many lines on my pants 🙂

    • Oh my! I also taught in NY and Washington DC. When the cold weather rolled around, the noses would start flowing. I can totally relate. Thanks for playing along.

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