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!!