Teacher Reflection

North Star

Navigating with Polaris, The North Star Brandon Boogren 2017

Joey Feith is an inspiring Physed advocate and leader. When I first met him in person I was a little overwhelmed as he sat in the hotel lobby with me and use the app Periscope to invite any of his followers into our first meeting. I wasn’t comfortable with this arrangement – and over time have not been as engaged with Joey online as I wasn’t totally sure of his motivations or intents.

But I had the opportunity to listen to Joey keynote at the PE Institute in July in Asheville, NC. I was overwhelmed by his speech and the way in which he honestly told his story and his struggles as a PE teacher, husband, father, advocate and passionate person. Joey took the time to reflect on the journey he has been on and what has lead him to where he is today and to ask us to consider what our own North Star.

Joey took time to explain to us about the North Star and how to find it and what it is. He unpacked this with anecdotes of his own life and experience. The North Star sits directly above the North Pole. It is not the brightest star in the sky. If you were to sit at the North Pole and look up all the other stars would appear to rotate (as the Earth rotates!) but the North Star would stay still. The North star changes over time as our Earth shifts on its axis. Currently, Polaris is the North Star. You can follow this link to learn more about this incredible star and its constellations.

WHAT? Joey talked about the North star as a metaphor for us to consider what guides us as we work as Educators. Clearly, it isn’t financial gain and often the benefits or the fruits of our labours with students won’t come to fruition while they are in our care – they will occur in time as our students mature and make their own life choices. Joey reminded us about Service and how we can be in the service of others.

SO What? Joey’s keynote resonated with me as an Educator but also as a person, wife, mother and athlete. I found his simple but very provocative message very emotionally draining. I had spoken with Joey prior to his keynote and we talked about how often we hide the parts of ourselves that we aren’t proud of – not because they are bad things, but perhaps because we don’t know how to move forward. We celebrate and build on those parts that we are happy with and that work for us but where we are most vulnerable we tend to hide rather than ask for help. I totally relate to this and found this new open version of Joey a true shift from the person I met years ago. I want to be open to finding those areas in my teaching that I need to focus on for growth without worry that people will judge me for being open. I need to then find the people and research and methods that will allow me to grow and acknowledge this process openly and proudly.

WHAT Next? I would like to touch base with some people I trust to give me some feedback on my work as a teacher and then to really listen to them as they discuss some ideas. I am very hard on myself so this will be challenging to listen to. I would like to then choose a focus to build on over this year. Other things I am debating:

  • Be more concise. I have also decided to take on a TED talk to build as a presenter and to work on honing my skills to be more precise and less wordy. I would like to simplify my talks and workshops so that the message is clear and concise ( I get very caught up in the small details instead of having a clear focus, this tends to make my work very messy at times).
  • Be Grateful – acknowledge those who give me time and energy and who are brave enough to critique my work or offer advice that is well-intentioned.
  • Be kind(er) to myself – do things well and try and start as I expect to continue throughout the year
  • Expectations – keep them realistic but not be afraid to have high expectations of all I work with and teach.
  • Learn new things – take risks to learn new things and be vulnerable to this experience.
  • Use Research and others’ experience – make sure what I am doing is grounded in good practice, and that I can clearly justify this to others.
  • Blog – writing and sharing are so good for the soul – keep writing and on a journey of growth and reflection
  • Say No if the request is not aligned with the work I am accountable for. Many people as for things – I do not have to say Yes to all of them.
  • Service of others – work in the service of the community I work with – try and better understand my community of learners and families and ensure that choices I make are in their best interest.
  • Ask Questions. Listen and ask more questions. Repeat. Find out what others are thinking and grappling with.

There is a lot to think through and focus on this year. I would like to be more engaged in Meaningful PE and how I can make what we do at ISB in PE more explicitly Meaningful for our learners.

I look forward to more conversations but need to really know what my North Star is – and how to more concisely align to it.

Thank you to Joey Feith for igniting these reflections.

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