This will be my last post for 2013, I think.
With the school year finishing in under a week, I’ve been reflecting on what has happened in my classroom, with my faculty and with my online communities that I interact with.
At school, I’ve struggled in a lot of ways. I struggled returning to school after being away in an office, doing something that I initially thought was going to be a valuable resources for teachers, but unfortunately PLANE has withered into nothing. I learned plenty though – about ways of teaching, and about leadership (done well ,and very poorly too).
Returning to school was tough – I felt like an inexperienced teacher in front of my classes, and I knew staff were checking me out too. By year’s end, I felt I had my “mojo” back and was part of the team at Erina again. I think that mainly came about by keeping busy, trying new things, taking calculated risks and making wise (not always popular, though) decisions.
In my classroom, I’ve tried things that I always thought would make learning more authentic. Inspired by Mark Treadwell, Andy Vasily and others I wanted to base a lot of what my classes do on Inquiry learning. I really wanted to avoid spoon feeding students, and I’ve made some progress but there is a long way to go yet. Part of the battle is convincing students and staff to bust out of the “spoon fed” paradigm and try something new or different. I’ve documented this through the year, so check it out.
My Year 7 class and I tried Minecraft and I was very encouraged by the experience of using a disruptive platform like game based learning to approach mainstream health topics like relationships. I learned a lot from a group of educators that play together in Minecraft on a Monday night – @fedsie @NBooth005 @SCU006 @VivienTuckerman @nickpatsianas
Not all of these educators are teachers – but they are educators none the less.
If you want to read about what Year 7 and I did – check it out here.
My online connections have provided some fantastic learning and its been great to watch PEPLC and PEPRN grow and stimulate global thinking and collaboration. I haven’t contributed as much as I should, but watching the community grow has been a buzz. It has taken the hard work of people like Andy Vasily (again) and Dr Ash Casey to show that research can exist in our classrooms, in the hands of everyday practitioners, and not just pronouncements from ivory towers. I congratulate Andy and Ash along with @PENathan @phys_educator and @kellyannparry (amongst others) for advocating for praxis in Physical Education research and practice
The tag #pegeeks has had an interesting year. There was a vigorous debate about what it stands for. Personally, I think it has been diluted by brand builders that have hopped on a successful vehicle and used it for their own purposes, but there you go. I just know that where I used to watch it avidly, I now just check in from time to time, and often leave shaking my head. I find more value in the #pechat tag, which is probably a reflection of my interaction with Twitter more generally.
On reflection, my work and what I post about has definitely taken a turn into new territory – I used to focus on tools, rather than teaching. I reckon I’ve flipped that on its head – tools are fine, but good teaching and learning environments are key. And that’s where I think 2014 will be taking me.
Next year is shaping as scarily big. My school is adopting a BYOD / eTech model for the entire Year 7 cohort. That will be a post for later on. In a nutshell, we are recycling DER laptops to work with Google Apps for Education. My part in all this is PL and pedagogy support for teachers involved in the program, ensuring that the focus is not just the tool, but the adoption of effective teaching and learning supported by the tools.
Inspired by incredibly passionate operators like Bianca Hewes and her husband Lee, I’m seeing the natural dovetail of our E-tech program with Project Based Learning as a crucial factor for it’s success. I’m an enthusiastic amateur with this approach, and selling it to staff will be a challenge. But I’m confident that their desire to make a difference will make a different way of doing things seem more attractive and worthwhile.
In 2014, my focus will be learning, not just the tools from spruikers that don’t understand classrooms offer as solutions. My passion for PE remains undiminished, but I think my worldview has become just that – whole school rather than just faculty based. My passion for engaging kids in PE is as strong as ever and making their learning relevant is my core business. Student voice and student choice will all be a part of that.
So cheers, thanks for reading in 2013, and see you in the New Year.