Data can only take us so far. At the recent Hong Kong PHASE-AP conference this weekend, we were reminded that there is so much data being collected in a range of ways on so much of what we do (fitness trackers, phone apps telling us about time on devices, cameras tracking, heart rate for zones, power meters, surveys, feedback conversations, testing etc) that we also need to consider how to put this data into perspective with a view to improving our practice as teachers but to not lose sight of the goal of offering a range of experiences to grow our young people into better versions of themselves.
So with this in mind, I have been doing some thinking. This thinking is coloured by a few things that are working around my brain:
- the recent open course that Vicky Goodyear at Birmingham University is running on Young People and Social Media
- Louise McCuaig‘s excellent Keynote at PHASE-AP about preparing young people for the River of Life
- Conversations with Andy Vasily and ImSporticus about models of practice and thoughtful planning
- Dr Ash Casey’s blog series on pre-service PE teachers and re-imagining what that might look like for higher-level institutions.
- Conversations in a workshop I ran with Carlos Galvez about how to advocate as the PE teacher (and how we might create legacy)
- Amy Lauren Smith’s Keynote about making PE and Health accessible to all and not letting our own teacher bias disrupt or impact students who may be finding PE not as enjoyable or accessible as we (as teachers) did.
One group of my students were invited to complete a Tripod survey about their experiences in my class. This is somewhat challenging for all involved. The surveys are written for the students to reflect on seven different areas – Challenge, Confer, Captivate, Consolidate, Clarify, Care and Classroom Management. The 7Cs offer students a chance to think about the teacher in their space and to write about the teacher’s ability to manage or teach using each of these in their pedagogical practice.
Afterwards, each teacher is sent the class feedback, it is anonymous and so you are reading what your class thinks of you as their teacher. The information can be very humbling but can also be teased apart for further investigation and growth and consideration as you pursue professional development opportunities through the school.
My students said this (link to the presentation that I created based on this feedback) They reported that there were two areas of strength: Care and Classroom Management. I was delighted to see that the environment that we have created is well managed and that the students know that I care about them and their learning.
It was also clear from student feedback that there are some areas for growth. My 12-13-year-olds shared that I need to:
- Explain more clearly and in multiple ways to ensure understanding
- Give them more time to consider their thinking and time for them to share your thinking
- Offer opportunities for them to share their thinking in multiple ways
- Check-in with them more often to check for understanding and thinking in our class.
After receiving this feedback, I shared the results with all of my classes (I have shared with three so far, I have two to go) and I asked them to rank which one of these four would be the priority for their learning in my class. They overwhelming suggested that I need to “Explain more clearly and in multiple ways to ensure understanding.” and then a few offered other areas for my growth (always very interesting to see what they suggest!)
The next steps for me are to do some research and reading about other ways I could work to clarify the learning or instruction with my students. I am excited to be undertaking a course in the Spring that I hope will be good learning for me about my EAL students and how to be more upfront about the Language targets in my class and I am keen to do some reading and reflecting about Teenage brains and growth patterns and consider ways in which I will chunk up my instructions or use multiple forms of sharing with my different students. I am also looking at working on some Project Zero workshops and teacher-groups to look at Thinking Cultures and use of routines (different from the ones I use now) to engage my learners but to not detract from the physical learning time in my classes.
I want to offer my students a range of experiences to guide them in growing in the skills they will need to engage with this community but I am also aware of a growing disconnect between what PE looks like in our school and what our students are able to do in our community and would like to determine how to bridge that apparent gap. I don’t want the program to be just games-driven but how do we grow as professionals to expand into the activities that our students want to do or are doing beyond games in our current curriculum, facilities set-up, schedule and teacher backgrounds – is this more of a conversation about Legacy and a vision for the next 3-5 years of PE at our school? Do we look at who we are hiring with a vision for growth to diversify what we can teach? Do we need to talk about the schedule and how we balance the classes on which block to free up spaces? Do we need to build or modify our spaces to accommodate these interests? Do we hire community people to come in to teach some of the units (as our teachers grow to feel confident over time?) I think a lot of the conversations around Clarify and Consolidate can also extend into what our PE program could look like to meet the needs of our diverse and really active students and to engage in the interests of those not met in our current units.