The PE Institute held in Asheville, NC offered me opportunities to connect and listen to some new PE and Health people and leaders in the Physed field in the USA and Canada. I hope to unpack some of the ideas and reflections that are resonating with me as I go back to work at ISB in Beijing this week.
I have blogged in the past about chaos and order and about how I really struggle with some big issues in my present workplace. I am a planner, I like to really think about what I am teaching; why I am teaching it and have a very rough guide of the activities and their permutations that they will take based on how my students are doing according to a series of check-ins. These check-ins happen during my lesson and can include:
- assessment standard/s that I am looking at this lesson – who are my key students for conversations? (I try to have 5 on a list to really watch each lesson)
- the energy of the students (time of day/day of the week/month etc)
- group dynamic – do I need to plan specific groups or have grouping ideas to draw from, are students away that can make the difference for my groups? injuries? sickness? behavioural challenges?
- Meaningful? Drawing from the Meaningful PE key pillars – where is the fun? is this directly relatable to the lesson objectives? is the activity challenging (skills/game/personal/team?), is it social (go back to group dynamic above), is it relevant to students (can they go and replicate or pursue this somewhere else (either games/skills or concepts?)
- Fitness – do I need to further the fitness here with an activity? or is this enough for their fitness today?
- Leadership – who am I pushing today to be a leader in this class? Who is already doing this?
- Resources – what do I need to make this all work??
- other things I can’t remember right now… 🙂
In conversation with many impressive PE people, it became clear that many PE people have a space that is permanently their own for teaching their students. They adorn walls with clear posters, instructions, whiteboards and other resources and tools to make messages explicit and clear for students. The questions and discussion centred around What we could put up – not necessarily Where you might put them.
At ISB we are incredibly fortunate to have such an array of teaching spaces, but coupled with this is a real lack of places to put up information and resources for students that are usable. We have a great Gym space with new whiteboards and projectors but there is a great lack of wall space for resources or ideas or assessments. Often we are moving from location to location because of a weather or pollution or other issue and some of these locations do not have whiteboards or even usable wall space and so it requires a lot of movement of things/resources to new spaces. I don’t always have time to set up space prior to arriving in it and so sadly use warm-up times (where I really like to check in on students as they arrive) to set up equipment or write up instructions on the windows… so we are ready to go. I feel tormented by this as I would love to really be ready when my students are ready.
I wonder what other people do who are constantly on the move or who have to move without a lot of notice. I also wonder how I can do better at being prepared and see what I could ask for to be more resourced in my spaces.
This week I would like to talk to the facilities department at ISB to find out whether we can make some changes to some of the spaces we teach in. I would like to ask for whiteboards in different places, and for a piece of wall (and adhesive) to put up posters and resources in these spaces. I want to make a list of the posters I want in each space and then confer with my department so that we have what we need in each space to use on a permanent basis. Many of these spaces are used by multiple stakeholders, so part of this is going to be making sure that others are not defacing or writing over things. I often find that the movable whiteboards are missing, moved or written on in permanent marker – so we need to find out how we can make this stop! I also wonder if we could look to add more projectors in some of the places that don’t have them to allow for more resources to be used easily, especially to aid my EAL students and those who need visuals to see what is going on to have a deeper understanding.
I would also like to work with our Teaching Assistant to ensure that we have an equipment list that is routinely checked and is available for all in that space to reduce the amount of stuff that we have to carry around from place to place.
Lastly I am going to write up a series of Fitness style lessons that can be undertaken in a few locations in our school so that if the weather, pollution or other change impacts me quickly, I can revert to another lesson plan that still builds on social, personal and is relevant to my students and doesn’t throw me out so much as I scramble to put together an alternative lesson on the fly.
I would love to hear from other PE people about what they have done with similar challenges – and how I might reduce some of the chaos in my otherwise very amazing school.