Professional Development – Part 8 – Feedback and Reflection

Miyajima Torii by Pablo Fernandez CC BY NC SA

I have been blogging this past year in stages about some Professional Development I have personally undertaken.  This blog post explores the sharing from others in my PLN based on a series of videos taken of one of my classes and me asking for some feedback from others in the community.  If you are just joining in, welcome, but you might like to go back to Part 7 here to find out some of the back story.  This post is about the feedback from others and reflective growth moving forward from here.

I was initially really excited for some conversation amongst some of my PLN around my teaching and learning.  I will start off with some big thank you’s to those people who I emailed to ask if they would please give me some time – Dr Aaron Beighle and Dean Dudley as well as Evan Godsiff who all were very generous with their time and feedback.  It is the practitioner reflection that is so powerful here but with outsider views and conversation about the reflective process, the whole exercise was greatly enhanced as there were many things that others Noticed and Wondered about that I had not considered.  There were also Notices and wonderings based on my initial reflections which lead to debunking some of my concerns but also highlighted things that I had originally not thought to consider further.

Secondly although my blog posts were retweeted and shared by many, I didn’t get as much watching and feedback as I had hoped for from other practitioners in our field.  I realise that we are all very busy but I had hoped for a few more pieces of feedback or conversation about this process as I feel it has been so very beneficial for my growth and to see where to go in my next PD chapter in 2017-18.

Comments via email from Mr Aaron Beighle (@Aaron Beighle)

My main observations:

  1. You move around a ton. Impressive!
  2. Do you have a copy of the sheet they use? Just curious. Is it a program practice sheet of sorts (see attached).
  3. You model and/or provide quick hit instructions (often between shots) and then you move away to let the student’s practice on their own. So many times teachers provide feedback and then stand and stare which can make students uncomfortable. You mixed it up which was great.
  4. Your students get TONS of practice time…all with a purpose.
  5. You pull them in to give short group instructions and then let them go. A lost art form in teaching.
  6. Towards the end of “skill practice” some students were listening but others seemed off task. This is a person preference for teachers and I am a bit hard headed. As long as students are interfering with other students and know what to do when you say go, I am learning to be okay with it.
  7. You know my take on chalk talks. Based on your experience, how effective was the 5 minute “whole class instruction”? Could you have explained these concepts in small groups on the court? I don’t know. Frankly, I’m trying to find something to challenge you on.

 As I said on twitter, what you did is incredibly courageous.

Comments via email from Mr Dean Dudley (@deandudley)

Firstly let me echo Aaron’s comments in that there is very little to fault with your micro-teaching strategies in these clips. My questions/comment is driven about where this ‘badminton’ unit sits within the program and I’ll explain why. As with all net/wall games, if kids can’t ‘rally’, they can’t play. The service action in nearly all this game classification are highly specific and complex skills. It therefore makes sense to devise games that encourage rallying techniques in the first instance. The emphasis on the serve is what the students became bogged down in. By creating games where they initially have to cooperatively rally, followed by competitive rally, followed by serve rally is a great way (whilst counter-intuitive) to engage kids in wanting to learn and refine their service action.

Again, great work nonetheless and I hope these comments were helpful. We need more skilled practitioners like yourself sharing this. Your questioning technique is excellent and your ability to diagnose and provide appropriate feedback shows a deep understanding of human movement principles and pedagogical intervention. 

I have engaged in a lot of conversation with both Aaron and Dean about their observations and questions, I am not going to write about this in this post.

After throwing all of the videos out to the Twittersphere I was very humbled to have a few #physed educators reach out and take time to share with me about my work and also to champion me in this process.  I want to say a big thank you to Mr Evan Godsiff (@MrGodsiff)  who voxed me using the social media Voxer app, to reach out and support my sharing but also to ask me some critical questions/wonderings in the process.  I greatly appreciated the opportunity to engage in some conversation from an outside (ISB) perspective and from a practitioner perspective (and also for the technology feedback that the videos were hard to watch – this is something to consider when you want feedback!  I intend to talk to Aaron Beighle about how he is collecting video and audio using a GoPro).  Evan used the Notices/ wonderings and the feedback :

  1. When you have students who sign up for Badminton, is it necessary to do the footwork type work?  Is it possible to achieve the outcomes I am looking for without doing the footwork drills etc.?  (so Mel, what was the actual outcome here?  could this be something to consider moving forward?)
  2. When students are off task – what would this look like if we (me and Evan and our friends) are playing we will always see off-task work or not movement/downtime moments.  But when you watch the students they are still interacting with each other, it is important to have some down time and less focused time for interaction with friends.
  3. We are always our own harshest critic!  Take time to celebrate the successful moments.  Thank you Evan for your positivity and energy and for the time to share your observations for my reflective growth.
  4. Teaching is a bit messy.  It never looks exactly how we imagine it will look.  When you use the 5-4-3-2-1 count down to get students to where you want them to be, this makes the class conditioned to this counting to get students attention.  Is there something else to use or a mix up of things to do to draw in a group?  Evan makes some suggestions (make notes of first 5 students in, they get to start first/ or have 16 spots marked on the floor and last 4 kids in that miss a spot don’t play the first game – this will hustle kids to the markers).  – I wonder how I could make this a more Fun game?
  5. TGfU – the last game that we played with a big mix up of strategies or tactical play of focus, how do you mix/create this so that it isn’t too fixed? – a great wonder!  More thinking of what I am trying to create or achieve from game play is important for me to consider as I move forward – the biggest issue can be that the group of students changes so vividly from experience to experience so it is so important to differentiate the activities and expectations from student to student and also group to group (and age appropriate too!).  This is something I have really been trying to focus on around Game Centered Approach (including TGfU).

Where to go next?

I would like to now consider how to move forward and grow.   I have been catching up on Andy Vasily’s (@andyvasily) Run Your Life Podcast, and I listened to him talk to Jim Roussin and Roussin asks three big questions through his Adaptive Learning course:

Who are we?

Why are we doing this?

Why are we doing this in this way?

I found these to be really simple but very thought provoking questions about my practice as a teacher.  I would like to combine these questions with the Notices/ wonderings that have been posed by me and others.  The other sentiment Roussin expressed was about journaling and the importance of posing questions about what we need to ask to find problems/challenges  and to see a range of perspectives and then find the connections to these dots.  I wonder if I continue to ask questions if I will see patterns emerge about my practice of teaching and so can read, ask, watch and learn from others to increase skills and knowledge in my cognitive toolkit to bring to my next classes of students.

The other episode I listened to recently was Andy talking to  Michael Bungay Stanier (@boxofcrayons) and he talks about 7 questions that he uses when working in leadership but I would also argue that they are very useful for collaboration or personal reflection!  The big ones for me will be:

What is the real challenge here for you?

What do you want?

How can I (or insert other name here) help you?

If you are saying ‘yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘no’ to?

These questions at the end of the PD chapter here for this series!  This is a life long pursuit of reflective thinking and learning and growing.  I plan to find new focus from this series and from these questions and continue to journey for next year.  I hope that you will consider videoing your teaching and taking the time to Notice/wonder and then to reflect using some of these questions or others from your own preference.