For many months now I have been mulling over some ideas that sit poorly with me. I feel like I am a bit of a fraud but to be honest but I think I am a little hard on myself as a teacher. I am at a cross-roads and need to address the monkey on my back.
At APPEC I had the opportunity to go to a few different workshops or listen to key notes and I feel that through these I can better articulate what has been making me feel uncomfortable but allowed me to articulate this better for myself.
Ty Riddick @TyRiddick and Craig Aitkenhead @aitkenhead13 presented on using Go Pro’s in their Invasion Games unit. It was really interesting to try these out – we strapped on Go Pro’s and played a TGfU game in small groups and then we analysed the footage looking at the decisions we made in game (and the choices we had). This has had a major impact on students having a better understanding of what they are doing in game play and growing in confidence in game play and it is confidence in their work that can lead to more game play from our students.
Andy Vasily (@andyvasily)and Shane Pill (@pilly66) continue to have major influences on my work in the last few years. Andy’s keynote was personal and he spoke about rethinking about what is important as a teacher. What is important to you? List the top 5 things and then see if any of these make your list: Mindfulness, Being prepared, Being inspired. Andy’s keynote really resonated with me. I am acutely aware that I need to find ‘me-time’ in the crazy busy life I am in. I have no complaints, I love to be active and busy, but I learnt from an early age that I needed my own time to be a better person, friend, mother, wife and colleague. I usually do this when I run, ride or swim. But I also need to find the time to reflect on other areas such as being grateful for this amazing life; small things like an extra 5 min sleep in; a husband who is an amazing cook; students who thank me for my time; twitter folk who are supportive but also ask questions to make me think… a bank of greenlights so I don’t have to stop on my bike to school… what are yours?
Andy was talking about Awareness in our Mindful moments. What do you do in your life that is a pattern? What do you do because you have always done it that way? (Shane touched on this too). What patterns are inhibiting you from being the best you can be? Do you create Stop signs to actively reflect and uncover the hidden gems of your practice and life? Are you still searching for answers in your own learning and are you aware of what these should be? Are you in a fixed mindset? These questions make up a lot of the monkey and I had been working on these before I listened to Andy, but he made them more aware in my conscious, they rose to the top. What should I be focused on to be a better teacher? Where are the holes in my knowledge? Is this important? What do I need to know? Why? I imagine that we all have questions like this and I wonder what impact they have on our growth as teachers? Do these impact our PD decisions? Do we then seek answers through others or through internal dialogue? Do we seek out those who make us think or make us feel more secure or both? Does our school actively push us to be better individually or through collective PD?
Andy also made me consider the importance of being prepared. I like to be prepared, I am not OCD about this, but I don’t like winging things unless I have to. As teachers, if we carefully prepare our lessons to a structure and we know what we are looking for (directed learning objectives, not guessing or just randomly assigning without evidence in lessons) then we can hopefully grow our students and get to know them as they work towards these objectives. I feel confident that I am doing this but I know this could be an area for improvement, especially having a better idea of what my students can do and having a continuum or spectrum of growth would allow them to grow in the year with me and for me to have a greater awareness of this too. When we are prepared we are ready to be in tune with our students, we aren’t worried about creating music lists or getting equipment out when we could miss those teaching moments with our students.
Inspiration can be so random and perhaps you have a list of your inspirations and maybe you add to them each day or not. I have people I go to for inspiration but this changes based on where I am in my awareness and mindset and what it is that I am mulling over and where I want to go next in my practice. You may be the person inspiring your students – maybe they know it – but maybe they don’t – yet, but they may blossom in time under your guidance and care of them in time. Be inspired but also be inspirational for your students, you never know where this relationship may lead. What will you do next to inspire others? Will this be something small or big? Will it involve Service or working with others or on your own? I am still mulling over this.
Shane Pill was a dominant force at APPEC, he is a knowledgeable person and works hard to spread the TGfU message to our crowd. He works with pre-service teachers and I am sad that I didn’t have someone like him to inspire me at University (our lead lecturer was awful – another story for another day) and his keynote on Gamification is something I have had the pleasure of listening to before. Shane’s keynote notes are here if you are interested – you should be!
Shane’s major message to me which was reiterated by Sporticus’s recent blog post and the one that has come from being Mindful, Aware and looking for inspiration comes down to this: If you don’t know about the topic you are teaching then you should question whether you can really teach it. (Shane didn’t say this specifically but this is what I am gleaning). I am a converted TGfU teacher, I use it as much as I can – I love the problem solving and collaborative nature of this style of teaching. But here is the thing – I am not an expert in movement and decision making in game play. I listened to Ty and Shane as they gave examples of what players should be looking for (hip movement, foot positioning) for feedback or choice and I didn’t know about many of these things. I am currently coaching JV Basketball and am on the strongest learning slope I have ever known – and it is such a challenge to keep up (I don’t some days) – I am way out of my proximal development zone but it is both anxiety ridden but also so brain stimulating to learn about the movements and think about the technique and also the tactical awareness and how to read this in game play and give feedback to my players who are so eager to learn and have a hunger to win (they have to play with their brains first – this is paramount!).
I did not come away with any mind blowing new ideas from APPEC but I have found the voice to articulate what has been bothering me – that monkey on my back – I am on the quest for more knowledge about movement to give more meaningful feedback to students so that they are able to make better decisions in game play and hopefully grow in confidence to stay playing. I want to continue to use TGfU and Visible thinking routines to help students unpack their thinking and to work out what makes them think/say that and be more aware of explicitly teaching these concepts. I want to maximise movement and motion in my lessons that encompass problem solving, social discussion, knowledge about movement and decision making/choices in game play. I want to have games that are progressional and differentiated and are inclusive so that my students, particularly HS girls, are more involved and keep moving and playing beyond Grade 9. Now I need to figure out where to start and how to action this plan.
Thank you to the APPEC and ACHPER people – particularly Andy and Shane and my inspiring friend Sporticus for making me articulate and give me new direction and force me to think about how I can go from good to great as a PE teacher.