Core Values, Advocation, Professional Growth, Networks and Literacy. A call to action.

Sunset at Yaquina Head by Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington CC BY

What do you stand for?  How are you core values visible to your student/ department/ community?  Are you delivering on the mandate of QPE?  What makes you say that?

This past weekend I was humbled to give one of the Keynotes at the Asia-Pacific PE conference in Hong Kong.  This is the third annual conference hosted at HK International School and saw a lot of Educator’s from Asia, Australia and also now from the USA and UK in attendance.

The last few months I have really been delving into who I am and what I stand for.  This has been coming for some time now as I have been taking the time to consider what is Essential in my life (thank you to Jarrod Robinson, Andy Vasily, Share Pilland Sporticus for their constant questions and advice) and then to determine how this is leading me to a happier space and how I am using these principles in my own teaching and learning communities.  I wanted to really illustrate my own experiences as stories for others to hopefully inspire some self reflection, department conversations and to further the dialogue with Administrator’s and Curriculum people as they are the gatekeepers to change in our schools.  I also feel that we need to involve our parents and community partners to grow the awareness of our subject and WHY we do what we do and HOW PE is changing to be Quality PE and how we are justifying our work to others (and to ourselves).

We recently have had two educator’s (Ted and Carolyn Temertzoglou) come and spend a week with our PE department and having them guide us through some exploration about what PE is and where our program stands has been a way to strengthen and guide us forward as a department and consolidated for me that ISB and our PE subject areas really has a vision and mission that my core values sit well with – I am in the right place – this is such a solid beginning!

So what are the core values I identify with and hope to learn and grow from? (and with my students, department, life long mentors and of course my family…): Life Long learning and the quest to be more effective as a professional; to have fun and be stimulated in a variety of ways to decrease boredom and take some risks in life; to have evidence of best practice and feel more confident that what I am doing is best for learning (as a teacher, parent, friend!) and to invest in my Physical Literacy and be a part of other people’s literacy journeys too.  I offer my services with a full heart and with no expectation other than a mutual respect of our time and collaborative learning.  I am very optimistic and very grateful for this life opportunity.

My Professional Learning Network (PLN) is large and has lots of moving parts.  I want to firstly acknowledge that the constant support but also pressure of this team of dedicated individuals has and continues to have a very big impact on me.  I want to live up to the increasingly high standards that are set and to be transparent in what I do and how I do it so that I can be open to constructive and kind criticism or questioning from others to better my own learning and teaching.  I also want to grow my mentor base and have more points of view for what Quality PE is and evolves into.  A Thank you to all of you who took time to read and offer advice on my work and who always make me think harder and justify my work with research or evidence to support rather than let me just voice an opinion.

Is the program we are offering, good enough?  How do we know?  This was the first round of values I align to – the need to be an effective PE teacher and work alongside Quality work rather than guessing.  This requires having a working document for conversation outside of just curriculum and then measuring ourselves against this for conversations about growth.

Assessing (your program) – Evidence and Conversation

UNESCO has spent a lot of time and money researching PE all over the globe.  They have put out a report that explains what QPE is and how we make sure we are offering it to our students.  I highly recommend you read the document – it is written concisely and offers data, research, further reading and offers ideas for how to get non-PE people on board.  There are three main areas for QPE – Child Protection and safeguarding; Physical Literacy and Inclusive practices.  Underlying these are five more areas for conversation – Teacher Education, supply and development; Facilities, equipment and resources; Curriculum flexibility; Community Partnerships; Monitoring and quality assurances.  And then underpinning these are Advocacy and Communication (add picture here).

How are you better utilizing contact with your Administrators, Policy writers, Curriculum people and families to advocate for QPE at your school?

I asked in my Keynote about what we are doing as individuals, departments and schools within communities to advocate for QPE and whether we were even having these conversations and if not, why not!  Once you start along this path you will notice what happens or isn’t happening but it is the collection of data or self=study around your practice that can be the most eye-opening.  The UNESCO documents provides checklists to assist all stakeholders in QPE to discuss their programs from different angles and could provide some very rich conversations with evidence-based support for you to ask or suggest change in your school.

Quality PE and HealthED doesn’t just happen.  Developing a PLN.  Investing in CPD.

One PE teacher or Department cannot do this on their own.  You need to have a village that is prepared to implement the parts required to grow your program.   You need people who are going to let you explore, experiment, collect data, try new ideas and grow your own program.  Your department must have a philosophy you all know and buy into and agreed outcomes (link to previous post) to ensure that you are moving in the same direction.   You need Administrator’s to acknowledge that PE has credibility and to hire teachers that are PE and Health educated and then to support you all in your Development over the course of your stay at that school.  PD doesn’t work in snapshots.  It requires ongoing learning (evidence) and consistent practices to see meaningful change.

PE teachers need to have learning and training in a number of areas (you may have more layers to add to this list): Cognitive learning, skill and tactical competencies in at least 15 different activities or sports (possibly including swimming/Aquatics, rock climbing, skiing…) as well as more mainstream sports; explicit social and Affective learning tools.  They need to know about Technology, Learning Support, English as an Additional Learning (EAL), Visible Thinking Routines, up-to-date research in current practice; Formative and summative assessment toolkit; Awareness and use of models-based practice that ensures variety student centre learning.  We need to advocate for these layers and training opportunities to keep up with the demands of our profession.  I would also suggest that part of our learning is to be on policy committees, leadership training; scheduling spaces as well as community and service spaces where we can to grow our learning and our reach.  PE teachers need to be working to up-date their Professional learning beyond weekend workshops for life-long learning.

Armor and Yelling (2004) argue there are key points that must be adhered to for meaningful PD to take place.  Their analysis of research indicates that the most effective PD must focus on the analyses of student learning (outcomes, goals and actual learning taking place); involves teachers who can identify their own training requirements and needs and then developing goals and finding experiences that meet them; is embedded in teachers’ daily work and at their school; is collaborative; is ongoing with support and follow up for further learning experiences; includes multiple sources of data about student learning and teacher pedagogical practices; provides opportunities for teachers to link theory to skills and knowledge in pedagogical practices and must connect to improvements around student learning.

Armor and Yelling (2004) also site further research that suggests that PD was most effective when teachers have autonomy over the choice of their PD learning; when the PD is delivered by someone with appropriate expertise on the topic or subject and that the PD was challenging, the content was up-to-date and relevant to the classroom practice taking place.

Makopoulou and Armor (2011) conclude with these remarks in their research into Career-long PD for PE teachers:  “It is, therefore, suggested that it is timely to invest in PE-CPD that targets not only individual teachers but also the infrastructure within which teachers work. In other words, PE-CPD should be understood as a tool for building not only teacher but also school capacity for ongoing improvement (King & Newman, 2001).

Professional Development is vital for delivery of Quality PE and to inspire life long learning that is relevant to PE professionals.  Armor’s studies identified that PD for PE is usually made up of Sports specific work or PD that is school wide but that may not hit the mark as PE -specific.   Is the PD being offered or paid for within your school environment meeting your needs as a professional PE teacher?  How could you advocate for this?  Are you taking advantage of PE PD that is offered?  How could you and your Department work together on a plan for growth that is supported by your school?

Professional opportunities for PE teachers are evolving with many private providers and contractors coming onto the market and more sharing from researcher-PE people in our midst.  There are multiple PE and Education podcasts, online forums, weekend workshops (some that dovetail in and out of online platforms for longer conversations and reflections and some that are one-shot weekend PD moments) as well as Twitter spaces with specific PE hashtags (#physed #pegeeks #espechat #mypphe to name a few) and Voxer PE conversations that everyone is welcome to join in.    There are a growing number of PE blog spaces that offer opportunities to grow and reflect and include ES, MS and HS practitioners as well as University Professor’s who are in the field of research into best practice and/or involved in working with pre-service PE people.    We are seeing more opportunity to network and to read research into our field with growing ease to take more ownership of our PD – this is good news for everyone!

QPE + School + Family + Community Partnerships for Physical Literacy

A Literate person has the ability to read and to write. SHAPE America defines Physical Literacy as  ”the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.”  Dr Doug Gleddie shared two names in the field of Physical Literacy if you are looking for further reading – Scott Kretchmar who writes about the Joy of Movement and Margaret Whitehead who is credited with creating this phrase and has written and spoken many times on this subject.

I want my own children and my students to feel comfortable and confident enough to play any activity with their friends or peers in a variety of seasons, facilities and with variations of equipment.  My role is only a part of this journey.  There are others – parents, siblings, friends, school activities or community activities that are valued by our parents and are available to fit in with the environment and time that we have in our school days and weekends and holidays.  If you cannot afford activities, you won’t necessarily play them.  If you are not confident to play you won’t try or return if you fail.  If you live too far away and travel time eats up your activity time, you won’t play.  If your parents don’t value sport or movement than you may also fall into a space of not valuing or being valued if you do play.  Culture will also determine what sport or activities you do (team or individual) and what is important in your city, state or country based on where you grow up.

PE programs must offer breadth to their program where they can to foster opportunity for success in many activities and environments.   Part of your analysis into your program, may also include what is on offer to your student body outside of PE and if you are involved in offering coaching or activities to look at what is offered and how you are filling those positions.  Is money an issue?  Is time an issue?  Do you make cuts on your team?  What happens to those that are Cut?  Do you offer equal Gender opportunities?  Are parents involved?  Are you engaging in conversations with parents about the growth of their children?  There are so many ways that we can advocate for Joy of movement beyond traditional sports and relying solely on PE to make our children physically literate.

Call to action

My keynote at APPEC was around the three themes here.  Quality PE and check listing and taking time to find out if you are offering a QPE program and how you could do better.  Advocation for PE through all the stakeholders and gatekeepers and then the importance of taking action as an impact on student learning and opportunity.  I also share John Hattie’s work into Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement.  Hattie found that almost everything that we do has a positive learning effect – that is good news!  He has ranked these 195 Effects so that Educator’s may know what has the most positive student achievement outcomes. As teachers what we want to do is work out What to spend our time doing and How to get the most positive effect!

Dr. Dudley recently shared this work on ConnectedPE saying:  “Setting the bar at greater than zero is crazy. Everyone can claim they are ‘making a difference’. Setting it at d=0.4 sets a level where the effects of teaching and learning innovations enhance achievement in such a way we notice real-world difference.” In other words, let’s have students learn at a level that breaks through the mundane. I hope you are with me so far.

If you are pushing for more curriculum time, that new facility or technology equipment based on arguing we need More Physical Movement, Hattie says that this has a .21 positive effect in achievement. That is startling low, remember we want .40 for real-world difference.   But we aren’t just moving are we?  We know that in PE we must explicitly teach social learning.  We want our students to be collaborative!   This has shown to have an effect of at least .4 of one standard deviation.   This is the beginning of the Quality PE program.   But if you are really working on explicitly teaching Affective learning – positive self confidence, risk taking, reducing anxiety then this has shown to have an even higher effect on achievement.  If we can make our QPE inclusive and connect to everyone of our students we can potentially see gains of 0.61 of the standard deviation.

As we advocate for our program, consider what evidence you are using to support you.   ES PE teacher and advocate Justin Schleider has summed this up suggesting “We can no longer be fitness trainers with fun games. We truly need to teach the whole child. We focus on movement and cognition so much that we are missing out on the beautiful part of what we do. We allow students to feel good about themselves. We provide a time and place that is encouraging to them socially as well as physically. We are the place where kids love to go when we create a Quality Physical Education program.” That is how we need to advocate for our program.”

So, what are your core values?  And what are the values you are instilling in your students?  How are they lining up with QPE at your school?  And What makes you say that?

References

Kathleen M. Armour & Martin R. Yelling (2004) Continuing professional development for experienced physical education teachers: towards effective provision, Sport, Education and Society, 9:1, 95-114, DOI: 10.1080/1357332042000175836

Dudley, Dean. “The True Argument for PhysED.” ConnectedPE, 4 Oct. 2017, connectedpe.com/true-argument-physed/.

Farooq MA, Parkinson KN, Adamson AJ, et alTiming of the decline in physical activity in childhood and adolescence: Gateshead Millennium Cohort StudyBr J Sports Med Published Online First: 13 March 2017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096933

Hamada, Melissa J. “APPEC17 Mel Mini KeyNote.” Google Slides, Mel Hamada, docs.google.com/presentation/d/1jIPrWhMLV7KviN3-8ln3FD6w9S_b3_nt4R5mNMnf5O8/edit#slide=id.g286158045b_1_87.

King, M. B. & Newman, F. M. (2001) Building school capacity through professional development: conceptual and empirical considerations, International Journal of Educational Management,  15(2), 86 93.

Kyriaki Makopoulou & Kathleen M. Armour (2011) Physical education teachers’ career-long professional learning: getting personal, Sport, Education and Society, 16:5, 571-591, DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2011.601138

“Quality Physical Education.” Quality Physical Education Policy Project | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/physical-education-and-sport/policy-project/.

“Home » Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance.” Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance, www.activehealthykids.org/.

By. “Hattie Effect Size List – 195 Influences Related To Achievement .” VISIBLE LEARNING, visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/