Pondering the right questions. Teaching PE and Health 2020-21
What is PE? What is Health? What is essential? What are our constraints? What is practical?
In an exchange of ideas with a few people today, it became more clear to me that as we go back to school or prepare to return to a new academic year, that for many of us, we will not be able to teach PE the way in which we have previously and that for me this means I need to have clear in my own head the questions that rattle around confusing me and muddying the water of clear focus of how to best plan for the start of teaching PE and Health this year. I have had some great conversations with people from INSHAPE, EPEW and ACHPER as well as with friends, mentors and colleagues and this has greatly influenced my thinking and reflecting – but as we start to now PLAN our units of work, I need to consider the ideas and questions that are blocking my thinking to better connect to my return to school.
I want to write down some of the questions and conversations that have been shaping my thinking today – a progression of questions that I am finding have helped clear things for me – how to consider what is at the heart of my unease (beyond health and safety) as a PE and Health teacher.
For the last few years I have been crafting question progressions in my units, making notes of the questions I use and how to use them when talking with students. I have found this very valuable Professional development as it forces me to consider the Why, How, What, When and also the important follow up questions and the Thinking routines that go along with them. Knowing what to ask allows you to then discuss the answers or possible solutions to the constraints or situation you are in and directs our students to look or consider solutions rather than being told what to do and how to do it. This is very valuable with professional conversations in schools too – crafting questions to ensure that you are inclusive, harness everyone’s unique ideas and viewpoints and are not judging or leading to something specific but rather having a dialogue of thinking together.
So, today I have been making note of the myriad of ideas and concerns that I have and then meditating, breathing and reflecting on the bigger questions that link these ideas and concerns together.
I can see that at the heart of my thinking – my friends @imsporticus and @andymilne- have helped me to frame the initial concept that is a given/a non-compromised statement:
Movement and Learning are at the Heart of Physical Education and that Life Skills and Learning at the Heart of Health Education.
So now we need to ask:
What learning; What Movement and What Life Skills are pragmatic within the constraints placed on schools, teachers, students and parents?
HOW often do we need to return to this question as things change during our school year to allow us to reevaluate (or choose not to) our constraints and so the possibly learning, movement and life skills we are able to include?
So, the big discussion now question becomes:
What is essential to PE and Health in our current situation?
Which lenses/values/criteria can we use to help us choose wisely what to include/focus on and what to leave out?
Some of the discussion must be around constraints that are out of our hands – safety protocols, online or in-person or blended learning, use of particular software or apps your school uses etc, weather, how you communicate with parents, reporting etc. But it may be worth brainstorming out this list and sharing it with your Administration, you may come up with something that they haven’t thought of yet due to the nature of your workplace and spaces. Maybe the schedule has to change based on new constraints but they haven’t thought about what this means for PE classes.
But a lot of this will be around your department or other spaces with colleagues who you can delve into. You may need to remind yourselves of your norms and values as a school/department so that you can hold onto them as you make these decisions. What values will drive you – I hope that we will talk about positivity, joy, happiness as well as assessment and equipment.
I am still pondering and no doubt so are millions of others. But what is essential in our current situation? How do we keep those students connected, engaged and learning within/around/through movement? I am already excited for the conversations.
Thank you to all those who have helped me with this today.