This year I am working to on Professional Goals that are being drawn from new Standards that we are trialing at ISB as part of a Pilot group. The idea is that we have more ownership of our teacher learning but that what we choose to focus on comes from a series of data points – one being the Tripod 7Cs Standards, another from Student feedback (via a survey linked to the same Tripod 7Cs) and from Departmental conversations. I suppose there are lots of other data points such as self-reflection, student conversations, and diverse student needs, time and energy to this project as well as reading teacher and practitioner research and reflections and thinking about my own teaching and pedagogy at this point in time.
This is always the hardest part but the most crucial. If I cannot justify this succinctly then I won’t apply the time to it. Why is this important to me? for my students? My hope is that I can complete a self-assessment of my elicit and tacit teaching practices and better understand why I do what I do and whether I could do this better or more effectively. Is what I do working in my PE classes? How do I know? What could I change or keep based on what I learn about myself from reflecting and from my student feedback? The bigger goal for me is to make PE more meaningful – to connect my students understanding of WHY we do what we do and to then apply themselves and hopefully be more invested in what we do.
Tripod offers 7 discussion areas that allow Teacher reflection. This blog post is about my unpacking of these standards for conversation and to decide where my focus will lie and then the next steps will be to survey my students, read over their comments and feedback and firm up Why, How and What I will focus my energy on.
I have asked @imsporticus to be my critical friend in this process. We have had some valuable conversations over the last few years and I appreciate the questions that come from our chats that lead me to different places and thinking that I would have gone to if left to my own thoughts and actions. I wanted to have someone non-ISB as my critical friend as it allows for a different depth of conversation and allows me to have some follow up conversations with my colleagues as I develop my ideas. ImSporticus’ advice to me has been to consider that less is more and to be very specific about what I would like to achieve. These ideas have resonated with me as I have read (book) and after consideration would like to have two different focus areas (that need to be specified after more data points from students) – one is a practical Lesson plan tool that evolves as I use it to meet my needs and I would also like to complete a Self Study that looks at my philosophy of teaching. I feel that this could be too much but… I will see.
ImSporticus sums up for me what I really need to consider this next month as I nail down my two areas for learning:
- Focus on one thing
- Start with the intended impact in mind
- Be honest about the barriers that will prevent success (pre-mortum)
- Check whether your assumptions are right
- When implementing always be evaluating in some way (self-reflection, participant feedback, children feedback etc)
- Change of behaviour is complex and takes time. Be patient as practices are learned and embedded over months and years not days or weeks.
Teacher Reflection. There are 3Cs that I would like to focus on and write about and then look at what my students say about me in these areas – Care, Captivate and Challenge. I am going to use some of the guiding questions from Tripod to get my self-reflection underway:
- What expectations and routines do you establish to create an intellectually and emotionally safe environment?
This has been challenging as I find it hard to set up a routine with the schedule the way it is – often students are in the Gym before I arrive or I need to set up equipment (or am still packing up from the last lesson) as students come out. We have four classes on simultaneously which is difficult too.
Making the most of the schedule, I try and say every student name as they enter the Gym or come out of our changeroom spaces from getting changed and check in with them in some way. I try and have a clear lesson objective that is not about PE skills and to try and have a similar start to each lesson so that this is known. I try and use the whiteboard or my computer to draw/write as well as speak and limit my teacher talk as best I can. I am focused on a slower delivery cadence and clear vocabulary. I try and use my voice clearly but not shouting. I work on positive credible stance and engaged body language to try and let students know that I am really paying attention to them. I could work on seating arrangements or teams but I tend to try those in specific units, not across the whole year. I don’t like everything the same all the time as this can be boring and isn’t necessary if other pieces are in place to keep things flowing. I like that students can sit with their friends if they can still meet our lesson expectations.
- What type of language and tone do you use when…
- Offering students encouragement? I hope that I use strong positive vocab, I tend to touch students on the arm, shoulder or upper back and smile or give them physical thumbs up or such with a reason why associated. Well done! That was a super pass to your teammate. Thank you for taking the time to pack up that equipment for us.
- Trying to help students improve their behavior? I tend to be firm and to ask questions (if time permits) about what has happened and WHY that happened? Why did you make that choice? Would you make the same choice again? Let’s listen to Jane so we can understand what happened from her viewpoint. Can you hear what Jane is saying? What do you think happened? Please do not do that again – it is unsafe. What will happen if you do do that again? If your Grandmother was here and watching – would you be proud of your work? What makes you say that? Clear learning from the experience, and often I try and prompt students to consider what should happen if that behaviour repeats (time out/ warning/ email/ phone parent etc) so they are involved in the next steps themselves and have awareness of their actions.
- Commenting on students’ work? I try very hard to comment on student work each lesson but the last year or so have tried to focus on 5 students per lesson but of course comment on others where there is that moment to do so – I find that my high fliers or behavioural needs kids get a lot of my attention and have been working to have time with my middle average students so that they get my attention and focus and a comment from me and know that I am observing their learning and work frequently in my class.
- How often do you show interest in students’ extracurricular activities and lives outside school? Not often enough. I feel this is coming as I get to know the school and students better and take on more things myself. I would like to do a better job of this.
- How do you incorporate opportunities for students to share their personal experiences, interests, and concerns? I should do a better job of this. I try and find out what is happening and make note of it or try and use it as an example or ask for examples within the class but I need to develop more strategies here.
- How do you respond when students seem sad or upset? Quiet check in with them during class to solicit what is happening. If it is more serious then email with their HomeRoom teacher or counselor to follow up.
- How do you respond when students want to talk about issues they are facing unrelated to your class? Listen – often listening is all that they need and then support or a well-done or concern about the issue if that is what they are discussing with me. If follow up is needed then I do so.
- How do you customize support based on students’ specific learning needs? Change the lesson – Space/ Equipment/Score/ Teams/ Game/Score etc. I know that I need to do better with some of my socially frustrated or anxious students and am working to support them with already prepared teams and roles where I can. I am also feeling my high flying athletes are not as challenged as much as I should be – and I need to think about this. I am working on EAL strategies and use of language in this class.
- How do you show sensitivity and express encouragement when a student seems frustrated or ready to give up? Consider what they need to persevere – pep talk/ friend chat/ timeout/ teacher listening/ strategies/ combination of ideas. Ask them what they need and work out what is exactly challenging them at that moment.
- How do you make your lessons relevant to students’ lives and the world outside of school? I am trying to use the WHY/ HOW/WHAT or So/ So What/ What Now lesson breakdowns with clear focus on the objective that is life based – ex. How can I be my best self when I am under pressure? These sorts of questions can help them to consider how a Game pressure can be similar to a life-stress and how we deal with that and still be our best selves. Problem Solving and strategising can lead to stronger performance. I am trying to write objectives that are not just PE specific. I could do better at doing this each lesson and unit and making this more explicit to my students.
- How well are your lessons paced? Are they too fast? Too slow? Is pacing differentiated for varying skill levels? I try and make changes in our lesson based on what I see the students are doing. If they can do that activity then I make a change to make it more challenging – if it is too hard, I make a change to see it become the right challenge. I feel I am getting pretty good at this in terms of PE activities. I am not sure about the use of teacher talk or language with my students – I haven’t asked them.
- How interactive are your lessons? Very interactive I would say. But I don’t know how the students feel and I don’t know if for some it is over stimulation.
- How successfully do your lessons pique students’ curiosity and engage them actively in the inquiry? I’ve been working on Inquiry in PE for some time and hope that I am engaging students in this way – but I don’t know if it is piquing curiosity?
- How do your vocal inflections, movements, and mannerisms communicate your enthusiasm and contribute to capturing and holding students’ attention? I have just had some PD around this and haven’t yet decided how to make some change here. I have been trying to not do full-group chats after our initial conversations as it is very hard to get the attention of a big group. But I need to be much better at it. I find working in smaller groups
- How effectively do you use appropriate technology to engage students in learning? Again an issue for me – I love using Tech but feel that I don’t do a super job of it to make it effective in PE. More conversation here.
- How do your assignments sustain students’ interest? Not sure this is appropriate – will need to think about this.
I am going to stop here to consolidate – the survey results are in and it is clear that the three areas for growth and focus are: Challenge, Consolidate and Clarify. This is exactly where I have been thinking! This is good news. I will do some thinking and reflecting and come back here.