Once again I am always reminded about the power of Twitter. It is so easy to connect with other educators whom you share a common vision with. Ross Halliday and I have come to know each other relatively well despite never meeting in person. We have had a number of excellent Google Hangouts in which we have talked in-depth about defining what good teaching is. Although being relatively new to the teaching profession, Ross is miles ahead in terms of his openness to learning as much as he can to improve his practice. He realizes that good teaching practice is very non-PE specific in nature and is constantly on the lookout for any research or resources that can help him improve. Reflection plays a big part in Ross' professional journey. I love his approach to education and regularly follow his blog and recommend that you do as well. I would like to thank Ross for taking the time to share his thoughts and vision on PYP PE with Andy.
A bit about Ross:
Ross was born in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland in 1982. He spent his whole youth playing sport in nearby parks, fields, gyms and anywhere else he could find a game.
His soccer potential was realized to some extent when he was “drafted”/ “scouted” for Hibernian FC in Scotland as a youth pro. Although he gave it his best effort, his direction in life changed as he completed his Bed Physical Education (hons) at the University of Edinburgh.
He now works as Head of PE and Sport in a Prep-6 junior school in Melbourne, Australia. Ross is very busy these days as he is about to begin a new life in October as he and his fiance are engaged to be married on October 19th.
As a teacher and a learner he is in endless pursuit of the things in #PhysEd lessons that really make learning ‘fizz’. He blogs at http://makingpefizz.com/.
Ross' Guest Blog
Through reading various blog posts recently, specifically ‘sorry, sorry, sorry’ by Dr Ash Casey, I've been forced to reflect on my own PE experiences and what brought about a desire in me to put my heart and soul into becoming the best teacher I possibly could.
As you may guess, I was "one of those" sporty students who lit up in the gym but sat back offering basic compliance in other areas of the school, or the subjects in which I was allowed to anyway. There were some superstar teachers who didn't accept basic compliance, not-so-coincidently theirs were subjects in which I succeeded also.
But even though I prospered in PE, even back then I wanted it to be more popular. I wanted everyone to light up at the thought of going there, to enjoy it, to value it. I had friends (often girls) who loved sport but hated PE and it broke my heart to see them dodge and wag their way through our school years. I still remember “notes from parents" being central to weekly avoidance strategies.
It felt like I had found the best band in the world but only a couple of people wanted to come to the gig with me.
I've said before that I thought I became a teacher the day I graduated and got my first job. But, I was mistaken. I am, and will always be, “becoming” a Teacher.
As soon as I came to this realisation, it allowed me to reflect more honestly on my teaching practice, go easy on myself for making mistakes, be up front about what strengths I have and, as important, areas in which I can (and must) improve upon.
You may notice I've referred to myself as a ‘teacher’ first, and a ‘PE teacher’ second. Andy told me recently about how he asked workshop attendees to write “I am a physical educator” on their name sticker, he then told them to remove the “Physical” from it.
That’s what we are - Educators.
We just happen to educate through movement, physical activity, skill acquisition, games understanding, personal, social domains etc. The BEST things in my opinion!
So while my PE experiences were mostly enjoyable, I have always had an inherent will within me to ensure PE brings joy to all students, a joy that will stay with them beyond school and into adulthood, that’s what we’re ultimately aiming for, right?
A goal of ours should be to teach with the next 60 years in mind and not only the next 60 minutes.
Considering myself as an educator first has pushed me to look outside of the gym walls for ideas on enhancing my practice. Indeed, as a learner myself, I have felt compelled to look outside the walls of the school for inspiration. Remember that place where our students live?
A bright twitter pal of mine once told me about how she “always has learning goggles on.” This to ensure she never misses an opportunity to grab and develop an idea to enrich her students learning. You just never know where this inspiration might come from. One thing is for sure, you need to have your radar up and ready to make sure you capitalise on it. Do you have your learning goggles on all the time?
If you surround yourself with amazing people, whether through friends, family, twitter or other networks you don’t have to wait too long, or look too far for the next piece of gold to pop up.
If it’s a piece of solid gold, it’ll most likely need some work from you to make it yours or more essentially for your students, to make it theirs.
Back in my school days (oh no, have I really started saying that?) PE teachers only taught “the hands.” It was all about doing. Seems plausible given we’re in a practical learning area. But the one thing I promised myself I would always do was to ensure my program, (my lessons) value the hands, the head AND the heart.
We must offer our students the chance to learn, “to do”, “to know” and “to be” and only then might they light up when they enter the gym. Only then might they learn to value a healthy and active lifestyle and only then may their hearts grow warmer in front of our very eyes.
I encourage you, whatever you teach, to look outside of your classroom, look outside of your school, place your learning goggles firmly on, and see the world through the eyes of the opportunist super-learner.
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KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.