Shape Boston – A Close Encounter…

The Beautiful Eclipse by Stefans02 CC BY

The World is enormous.  Every-time I look longingly for the next holiday period and start thinking about possibly destinations, I am reminded of how big our amazing world is and that I will not have the time or money to see most of it.  But with technology, I can still keep up with friends and family from all over our glorious globe and that is something I am truly thankful for.

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Shape America National conference in Boston, and I have blogged about some of my theme takeaways here.  However, my biggest take away has been to continue to nourish relationships with truly inspiring professionals in my learning network.  A number of year’s ago I joined twitter and immediately connected with a handful of passionate PE people through the #physed and #pegeeks hashtags.  This network has grown tremendously over the last few years and with the addition of the app Voxer, it has led to more PE people sharing and learning together in a variety of ways.  These conversations have evolved over time and now involve a lot more thinking conversations and less of the back slapping that we see a lot of on social media.

Over the last year I have been able to connect up with a number of PE professionals that I have engaged with over social media in person.  But the Shape America conference offered me the opportunity to travel to the USA and meet some of my professional network that I have known for many years and sometimes talk to each day for weeks or months but had never met in person before!

As an International school educator, it was clear that SHAPE america is a big network and organizational group.  There are district/ state and national level boards and members and the sheer volume of this was overwhelming.  while there are many international schools in the World too, this level of organization of our PE folk is not nearly to the same scale and I was really thankful to meet up with and have conversations many excited and passionate educators from all over the USA and beyond.

I have collaborated and connected with many PE people on social media for years.  I have given online presentations, watched webinars and then worked with Dr Stephen Harvey, Seth Martin, Lynn Burrows, Matt Pomeroy and Jorge Rodriguez to create a session on Game Centered Approaches all online through Google, Skype and Voxer.  This blows my mind when I think more deeply about it as we were all focused on a particular narrative but all were able to lend our voices and experience to create something without having ever met.   A big shout out to Dr Harvey who pulled us all together and led the group through to the end line.  I aspire to be as organized as he is and to be such a knowledgeable and giving advocate of Game Sense models and for the ease in which he explains more complex theory about these models.  I only wish that he had been one of my lecturers when I was studying to be a PE teacher as I think my World would have really exploded so much earlier then it has!  Seth, Lynn and Jorge have been great sounding boards for thinking about learning and have been great advocates of trying new things and reflecting on best  practice.  I had the pleasure to meet Matt after lots of online interactions together and it was fabulous to meet him in person and to discuss the ways in which we each engage our students using this model.  Matt is also an amazing runner, and I hope next time we meet up he might let me tag along for a run and time to share and reflect on the World.

Nicholas and Justin were kind enough to let me jump in with them on their session about Student Voice and Choice and it was wonderful to share space with these very thoughtful PE people.  Justin runs a blog called #slowchatpe and uses a question a day to really look at such varied and interesting parts of our teaching world – Justin is about the big picture of life and how we teach this to our students.  I appreciate his view points as I know I often get very focused and narrow minded or passionate about the thing I am doing, and he reminds me to think globally and with a wider lens.  Nick is one of the nicest people I have met – he is generous and really wants to give the best he can to his students.  Nick takes risks to try new things out and works to seek advice and reflect on his learning and it was a pleasure to work with both of these teachers and get to know them better!  I hope we get to do it all again one day.

The opportunity for Connectedness should not be undervalued in our busy lives.  Having greater perspective and voice and the ability to learn with and from others is such an important life skill in our busy technology filled lives.  I have learnt so much and am very grateful to this online network of very passionate and knowledgable people for pushing me to be the person and teacher that I am and still long to be.  To value relationships in each form that they arrive and to nurture and really listen to people with greater depth and understanding is a pleasure when connected to this group of people.  I encourage you to reach out to others outside of your district, state or country and find like minded (and also non like minded) people to share with and learn from as you grow to be the best you can be.