A little while back I was asked by the “Godfather of PhysEd” Andy Vasily to guest blog on his website. Andy’s blog is an absolute treasure and if you haven’t visited it yet, you’re late! Hurry up and catch up here.
Having now been shared with Andy’s followers for a while, I wanted to bring it to the pages of makingpefizz. The ideas and thoughts included here are some that I am extremely passionate about. I thank Andy for the opportunity to post on his site. I also wish to acknowledge our wonderful Head of Teaching and Learning at our school, Rachel George for introducing me to the concept of Head, Heart & Hands, one of those deft ideas that just resonated with me immediately.
I hope you find it valuable.
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 (and author of Full on Learning (buy it immediately)), Zoe Elder, writes 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, 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.