The Perfect Balance is a post that I have wanted to write for a long time. However with change this year I have struggled with balance and did not feel honest in myself to write this. In recent days though I have had a chance to look back at the career I have carved for myself and then peaked into the future to see what is ahead and a proud feeling came over me. Everyday I aspire to be the very best that I can and I am amazed at the content that appears on Twitter on a daily basis. There is my work program right there. If I never had an individual idea then I think I would be OK as the share factor that is the NEW PE today would be enough to deliver rich content to me students all year round.
To me this is not enough though. I love to be original and try to set the tone and try new concepts and teach from the gut. I once taught with a great PE teacher called Ben Dew (7 years ago) and when we first shared an office, (a very small office) I noticed that he would write in his diary after every lesson three things:
1. What was actually delivered in the lesson.
2. What was interesting in the lesson.
3. What needed improving in the lesson.
At that point I was still a believer that a detailed plan was still required in order to be effective, but the longer I taught with Dewy the more we developed together a curriculum that was student direct and in fact what he was doing with his diary after each lesson was at the forefront of the NEW PE. He was listening to the students and teaching at the point of need rather than the point of lesson planning. He new where he was up to but recorded the outcomes of each lesson so to direct him with his starting point for the next. This is a practise I adopted almost immediately after seeing his theory in practise.
Moving forward 6 years I plan a curriculum in such detail that I am able to teach a terms work bouncing of student ideas. Having a plan of attack is very important but teaching to the point of need is much more effective. I have shared this plan in many Professional Developments that I have led but it is comprehensive that it literally changed the perception of what PE teachers do to my Principal who had been teaching 30+ years and had been a Region Principal. Check out this document here.
The perfect balance refers to finding the sweet spot in education. Finding that ability to juggle just the right amount of roles that really maximise your potential. For me I have always spoken about the magical triangle.
This triangle had three parts to it for me to be successful:
1. Teaching Physical Education
2. Being a Sports Coordinator and managing BIG events
3. Being a professional recognised Presenter
These three facets have truely allowed me to engage in my work practise to be able to create an emotion that brings such joy and satisfaction. Each facet complements the other but it all starts with being a great PE teacher and having a plan. Without a plan there is no direction and with no direction then is no love affair with your job.
According to me and those around me that have seen and been engaged in this same success story the chapters are written as follows.
You get employed to teach PE in a school.
After setting up a fantastic program you notice that great PE produces great sporting outcomes that connect
Great sporting outcomes create opportunities for students and a hook for life long Physical Activity
After a taste of sporting events you decide that there is a carnival you would like to excel at so you build a carnival that breeds excellence and respect
After many years balancing these two that complement each other you develop a theory based around education
You explore your theory and annoy anyone that will listen to you about it
You find a contingent of believers that want to know more so you engage in professional conversations
You set up a Professional Development and share your theories with your teaching PEERS
Achper or equal body see your brilliant work and invite you to present on a wider scale
Which leads to state and national conferences.
The Perfect balance is different for everyone. It is weighted different according to what is important to you but one thing is for sure............ when you know you are balanced then everything falls into place....
My current perfect balance exists as the following:
- Physical Education Teacher and Leader
- School Sport Victorian Region Coordinator
- Professional Development Leader
Share with me what is your perfect balance. What does this title mean to you? How are you going to achieve PERFECT BALANCE in your work life?
@mr_d_pe, Sean De Morton and I were talking tonight about an amazing lesson he had with his classes today during their final stages of their target games unit. He shared with me a story of one child wishing to change the target to suit his style of throw. Sean is a very adaptable teacher and relishes the chance for students to change the challenge. However this conversation gave him a thought about the readiness of his students to truely unpack their own learning. Sean had a front row seat last year at the Achper conference as he watched Andy Vasily and myself present Unpackong PHysEd. What transpired from his lessons today was a emptying of the storeroom as students looked for challenges that would change the challenge of target games. Students quickly designed their own challenges unique to their own understandings of the unit. One of the truely remarkable conversations heard were students sharing success strategies with each other.
Sean and I discussed how important it is for us to set up a lesson right with learning intents and success criteria however the cycle of great facilitating isn't complete until we hear students using similar methods to unpack their own learning. We decided that this accidental lesson needed to be repeated and built into our program. There has been some great names to 'share sessions' going around, demoslam and genius hour are two of my favourites.
However we needed something unique to AussenPhysEd.
So we introduced the PE EXPRESSION SESSION.
The idea is that we would like you involved. This is not an everyday lesson but rather a lesson you introduce to see if students understand the knowledge that you have been sharing. We want students to unpack their openness on by:
- develop a challenge based on your unit with a partner
- have one person remain at the challenge while the other goes off and tries other challenges
- sel their challenge to customers by defining learning intent and success criteria - GET THEM USING THE LANGUAGE
- swap back with their partner
- seek feedback
Have a go- try your own PE EXPRESSION SESSION
you will be dazzled by the student conversations that transpire. Maybe even record these convos on idoceo app for referencing and showcasing further at a later date
That you Ironamn Sean for sharing your day with me
After 15 years teaching in the same setting, 2016 has brought with it a fresh start and a new challenge that tested my strength as an educator. Knowing the entire structure of my previous school added to the success of my program and made the decision even harder to leave. However in order to progress my career I needed to test my methods in a new setting.
Instantly I found myself lost. Going from a Mac environment to a windows environment tested my abilities to find myself around the directory. I never thought that it would be so difficult to even find the easiest of files. However this was always going to be the challenge. Administratively i was lost. I was not able to understand the structure of operations and found myself asking colleagues who do I ask for this and where do I take that. I completely found myself out of my depth and classes were yet to start.
Thankfully teaching balances employment and once lessons commenced I was able to find my comfort zone even though I knew not one child's name. With the use of IDOCEO I captured the pictures of each of my classes and six weeks in we are rocking. Adding quality to lessons with learning intentions, success criteria and challenge activities not only brought a sense of familiarity to my teaching but brought explicit curriculum and visible outcomes to my classes. Students have been enjoying unpacking their learning and I have equally enjoyed watching them guide their own journeys.
Starting fresh is tough- It is character building and I will be honest in saying in the first few weeks I felt that I had completely lost myself. With two weeks left in term 1, I am almost there. Still plenty to do with reports, carnivals, swimming programs and parent teacher interviews but that is why we signed up to teaching. All these come with the job which guides my pathway of continual success.
This term one of my main goals is to create a video loop culture so students can see a performance to model their own on using ipads and tvs that I have available. I found this great app called :
CWG's Video Loop Presenter
So far it ticks all the right boxes. To prepare for use, video a short clip of what you are after then open it into the video loop.
I have tried a few others but they seem to jam in the app and blank out.
These are three guiding questions I have written on the glass prior to entering my dome. I use these to prime students to their learning.
They use them in two ways:
To reflect on their previous class
To set up their upcoming class
I don't expect responses but merely use them to engage student thinking skills prior to their lessons.
What questions do you prime students with prior to the start of class?
It's no secret that I love a great tune to fire me up. But when asked if I have a tune in my head before I teach I responded with 'hell yeah!!'
Music fires me up and I try to get a beat that syncs me to having a great lesson.If I can teach to a rocking tune then in theory my energy is rocking.
As you can see from this picture I have three zones in my Physical Education program. To the left a doorway leads to the 'think tank' where the theories are constructed.
In the middle is the holding bay similar to the entrance way of a college football arena. In this area I get pumped but equally I pumped up the kids either by music or by singing my tune.
Once we sore under the banner we enter the the done where the magic is made.
Do you have a tune? Do you share it with your students? Do you fire your students up for learning?
I have spoken about the art of Transparency now for the past two years in order to have respect and clarity within the sometimes forgotten specialist classes. The main questions I get is always:
How does this look? How does your Principal respond? Can you show me how to do it?
Let's be honest folks it is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a great deal of time and effort to gain the trust of others when talking face to face. When working in an unseen environment it can take even longer.
Let me take you back several years to when it all started.
I was fairly complacent in my job in the school system. I ran a fun environment and had the respect of the students and parents of the school as they always came excited and left happy. Sounds familiar doesn't it? There was no stress and I had no staff at all remotely interested in what i was doing. As long as I provided planning time for them once a week I was accepted. You could almost call me 'ROB' (See thephysicaleducator.com post on ROB from HOB). I was happy, knew my stuff (or so I thought) and was able to teach and 'PLAY' what ever I wanted. I had great ideas but they were like birthday sparklers, eventually they faded and the excitement burnt out. I must have gone through dozens and dozens of candles. (Don't get me wrong- I didn't sit at the side of the court and watch the kids play block soccer all day long)- I was probably a tenth of the teacher I was today. I had dabbled in global emails and ran a couple of local workshops for a handful of teachers.
Then our Principal announced his retirement!! I am not sure what your schools are like but if your Principal was happy with your work then your job was safe. With a new Principal in the mix and fellow staff hungry to get a taste of the good life I had to flip my strategies and start to show that I was the person for the Physical Education gig moving forward. She wanted to see curriculum and assessment and was a hands on Principal often just floating into a class and joining in. Along with her laptop she carried to school she always had her running shoes under her desk to be involved. I liked her style and we started to converse on some of my theories. She was a deep questioner and expected an answer right or wrong. This was a good thing. It is a tough gig to come into a school of 700 students and try to gain instant respect but I was giving her mine. I really liked being pushed. It reminded me of training for Ironmans. If I was missing a link I developed a strategy to find a replacement.
Within 6 months of her being in the position I developed the best strategy I have ever come up with in my teaching career. The art of TRANSPARENCY. You see I discovered that if she knew everything that I was doing in my curriculum area then she would share this across the school. I provided her with documents and data that showed differentiation and outcomes. I found effective ways to assess and teach PE at the same time. (You all will appreciate how hard this is) and then planned units that were thorough with visible learning intentions and assessment measures. My students knew their learning intentions and I understood that if they couldn't tell our Principal what it was when she ask I was not being explicit enough in my introduction.
'Hey did you know Andy has this wizz bang assessment tool he is using'
'Hey did you know Andy has his students using Ipads to film themselves and reflect'
'Hey did you know Andy just taught a lesson in Chicago before school'
It was catching on. I was able to share with her my passion in small bits and pieces. She was able to gain confidence that the Physical Education component at Leopold Primary School was not only excelling at delivering a high quality curriculum but the school was now being looked at by teachers outside our walls. It was having positive influences school wide. The more I dug deeper the more I shared. The more I shared that more rope I was given to help influence others until classroom teachers were coming to the Physical Education program to learn strategies to assist with their classroom structures.
Can you imagine that: Physical Education influence Literacy and Numeracy structures for classroom teachers.
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to get to the level I am operating at currently. My transparency with my Principal has allowed me to explore the world of teacher Physical Education and experiment with my own pedagogies within the curriculum area.
Following this transformation I then discovered the art of INFECTIOUS INVISIBILITY.
I refer to Infectious Invisibility like this:
- Imagine you have a great idea and discuss this within the group but then turn the conversation in that group to empowering the teacher you are talking to. They then go on and use the idea in their classroom and is seen by staff as the "Go To Person" to assist with understanding across the school.
This is what i am talking about.
I have teachers on my staff and in other schools that are like sponges, they are ready to soak up new ideas and not afraid to take a risk, failure or success, doesn't matter. I turn to these teachers and show them a few tricks they can use to better the outcomes of their classroom management. e.g. Autocrat- Was a BIG hit and more recently Plickers. I build the confidence in a few teachers who then build their own confidence. They are then seen by other classroom teachers using this great tools in their classroom and part with the information. Then that new teacher does the same. All the time I am working away in my with my students devising new ideas to build better student understanding.
Infectious Invisibility- Share with a few who share with another few then all of a sudden you have a whole staff conversation occurring over an original idea. Eventually some innocent teacher will share the idea back to me and you know what I do.............. Listen and be amazed. I don't like to take credit and be seen as that teacher. I like to sit back and watch the excitement unfold.
If you would like to learn more about the effectiveness of Transparency an Infectious Invisibility be sure to drop me a line. Thanks for reading and good luck not being seen!!
This week Andy Vasily have had an endless conversation about the power of 'Collaboration' in Physical Education to build better understanding. We spoke about how important it is to set lessons up for success not just rebuild them when they fall apart. Our students deserve to be layered for success and shown that through calculated decision making they can be more successful throughout a Physical Education Unit. Andy wrote on his blog http://www.pyppewithandy.com/pyp-pe-blog the power of checking in for prior knowledge and makes some great visuals with the information he collects from his students. We have all seen these visuals and have all attempted to make them ourselves. I personally love these as they can show the students where they have started the unit and how far they have travelled with their personal journey.
It was a Wednesday night WHATSAPP message from Andy that got me thinking. Andy had left a message talking about PADLET.COM. I had previously seen this at a PD event but as we always do at PD's we get excited but then forget. I trialled PADLET.com with my specialist team to gather some like ideas and words we were using around RESTORIATIVE behaviours. Following a long Mountain Bike Ride I had a clearer vision on the amazing power of this site when working across multiple Grade levels.
My Grade 3s were my TEST CASE to view the power. 10 Ipads in small groups with one question:
What are the skills necessary to succeed in invasion games?
I gave them 10 minutes to share as many answers as they could on this site. The best part of PADLET.com is that all students can be on the same page at the same time. They look for space tap the screen write their answer and repeat. Very cool.
Within minutes we had a quite a few responses.
Check out the answers here:
Now the power in the above is quite exciting because Andy and I will work with common grades on the same platform. We are not only Priming students for success but we are now providing them with a fundamental base of learning that is Inter-Country and Inter-Culture. Different sports bring different understandings but the common link being INVASION will give all students a deeper understanding of the topic.
Can't wait for my Grade 6s to come in and use PADLET.COM to see what depth they have with the topic.
For me PADLET.COM works great and I look forward to seeing what is next.
Andy and I spoke just this morning whilst Andy was eating breakfast about students document how they would like to be formally assessed. As teachers we can then shape this up for commonality to meet the goals of our Curriculum guidelines. Personalised learning to the MAX.
PE at Leopold is rich and I thank those that continually inspire me.
Some Voxer Comments:
With so much happening during Physical Education classes it is sometimes difficult to give students a chance to reflect of their own performance. I see my students once per week and I owe it to them to receive some form of feedback during each class. At Leopold PS I prime the students to seek feedback from a variety of sources: From me, from their peers, from shadows or even reflections. When we do station work and there is a set working space I love to use digital feedback in a variety of forms to give students a chance to self reflect and adjust their performance where they can identify it is needed. (It is not fool proof because in order for a child to identify where improvement is needed a child needs to have a clear vision of what the ideal performance looks like).
Have a look at this following clip that I used Digital leverage during Physical Education to give students visual feedback on their performance but also rate themselves against desired feedback.
Have you ever felt that you have struck gold during your week whilst teaching? Have you ever felt so powerful that everything you have thought about and planned has worked?
If so I know how your feel. The first two weeks of Term 2 has been extremely busy don't get me wrong! I set myself a huge challenge coming back to work from the highs of Seattle and even though I have a million things I want to implement I was careful not to overload my students and fellow PE teacher. Therefore I selected carefully the one program that could compliment what I do already but raise it to the next level.
PLICKERS was the inclusion into the PE program to bring out the deeper thinking strategies within the students in my classes. The immediate results were fantastic. Not only did the students show me through plickers what they knew but this program changed the way I asked questions. I understood that students at times didn't understand the language I used in the question. I was able to draw this out of the students when I asked them about the answer they chose.
With the inclusion of Plickers came the need for students to be given a playing number. I made a big deal about this like a jersey presentation night as I wanted them to really identify with the program we were going into. I wanted them to feel that this number then connected them to the team they were in.
The third element to my golden run was the introduction of POWER CIRCLES. Lets be honest guys, I hated having my students enter the gym only to stand in a roll line then sit for instructions. I wanted to combine all of this into an idea that brought immediate action. Power Circles is a concept that I devised whilst talking to REALSCHOOLS. It sees students enter the class and stand on their playing number in a circle. Player number 1 grabs the object out of the box behind them and starts a warm up activity that is simple. e.g. Bounce pass and catch. Whilst they do this they are currently using words that represent team work. (I will change the theme every few weeks to suit Physical Literacy needs and whole school programs). Whilst they are doing this I check for the numbers that are not stood on and this shows me who is away for the roll. After a few minutes they are then focused. I then stop the activity and introduce the first focus activity of the class with my learning intentions. The POWER CIRCLE concept is GOLD in itself. FOCUSED, ENERGISED and TEAMWORK are three words to describe it.
My exit strategy is very similar. I ask the students to grab their plicker card and go to their number in the circle. I stand in the middle and debrief about the lesson goals and then ask my plicker question. Once the answers are in I can then ask follow up questions to students to find deeper understandings as to why they have selected that answer.
10 days of pure GOLD at LEOPOLD PS.