Monthly Archives: June 2015

Journey to the Dark Side

I just finished reading Sandy King’s blog post about the 12 things that administrators should remember when they jump from teacher to administrator.  She made many valid points about flipping meetings, supporting teachers, being accessible, and understanding that teachers are doing their very best to do a great job.  This made me think about my own life.

I have started my journey into administration. It is the scariest thing I have ever done in my life.  I know very little about it.  I have worked in elementary schools my whole life and interacted with my administrators regularly; however, I have done very little administrative work on my own. I have sat in on one evaluation and have never scheduled a whole school year worth of events and classes.  I have interacted with parents of many students during school events and had to make tough calls home before but never with the regularity that an administrator has to.

I am used to getting guaranteed preps and breaks to catch my breath and get my mind back on track. Administrators don’t get to pick and choose their breaks. If there is a crisis or a meeting needs to be planned during their designated lunch period they lose that period.  They have to be extremely flexible in everything they do.  That is much harder than it sounds. My time will no longer be my own.

All these things worry me. The fear of the unknown worries me. Leaving my little bubble where I am the king of the gymnasium, the guy who students stand up to fist bump at lunch, the teacher who makes kids want to come to school, is a scary proposition. Turning my back on a job that is so rewarding is brutal.  I wake up every work day and am happy that I have the job I have.  Why am I pursuing a job that I know nothing about where I could fail? Why am I leaving the comfort of my little pond? Is it right? Am I ready? I still have so far to go in my teaching to become a master and now I am going to be judging other teachers? These questions keep me up at night.

The answer to these questions is that I can make a broader impact being an administrator. I can be a role model to many more students at a high school than I can at a single elementary school.  I also feel like I can make a longer lasting change at a high school.  I remember my high school teachers so much more vividly than my elementary school teachers.

It is time for administrators and teachers to come together.  We need to create a culture and climate where teachers don’t think they are being targeted or looking to be caught doing something wrong.  They need to feel that no matter what the situation is they will get the backing of their administration. Administration and teachers need to work together so that people want to come to work every day. I can help make that happen.

There has to be trust created. I do not need a master’s degree to create trust.  All that is needed for trust to bloom is time and consistency.  I feel confident in my ability to work with parents, students, teachers, and other staff in a way that people are comfortable coming to me.  I know that I am able to create relationships with other people in a way that is genuine.

For all the fear and trepidation that I have there is more excitement and positivity running through my body.  This will be a new journey that forces me to use everything I have ever learned in life as well as test my ability to learn on the fly.  I will fall but I will not fail.  I learned from @mathneil that failure only occurs when you stop trying.  I will not stop.

Q1. What is the worst trait an administrator could possess? #slowchatpe

Q2. What is a trait an administrator must possess to succeed? #slowchatpe

Q3. What is your relationship like with your admin? #slowchatpe

Q4. How could administration improve their relationship with staff? #slowchatpe

Q5. What is the scariest thing you will be facing this year? #slowchatpe

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EMBRACE THE SHAKE!

This week #slowchatpe is being taken over by @nicholasendlich.  Nick is the co-creator of #soyouthinkyoucanbalance and #soyouthinkyouarefit.  Mr. Endlich is also the co-creator of the National Lesson Plan Creator.  He will also be presenting Plickers at the #PEInstitute15 next month in North Carolina.  I now present to you:

EMBRACE THE SHAKE!

So 2 years ago I came across this TED Talk and was truly blown away!  I immediately shared it with our Art Teacher, for obvious reasons.  I was honestly moved by Phil’s ability to adapt, persevere, and reinvent himself.  We are so often overwhelmed by what we DON’T have that it paralyzes us from being and achieving greatness.

In this Talk, Phil describes his limitations as his ultimate liberation. So take a moment and think about all the “LIMITATIONS” you face as person, teacher, etc.  Limitations can be a variety of things such as physical; not enough equipment/supplies in your classroom, to personal; lack of organization, time management, etc.  Now how can you utilize those said limitations to create something new and amazing??

As I ponder my own limitations as a Physical Educator a laundry list begins to develop: not enough equipment, no budget to buy new equipment, not enough class time with students, too small of a classroom/gym space.  These name the ones at the TOP of my list.

One thing that I learned from the amazing educators on Voxer is that I’m not alone, I don’t have to do everything myself, and it’s okay to ask for help.  As an elementary physical education teacher for 10 years I’ve been on an island, by MYSELF!  3 years ago Twitter opened my mind to the possibilities of what I can do, but Voxer took those possibilities and made them happen.  Several of the things on my list above I can’t directly change, but others I can.  I have learned ways to STRETCH my equipment, make my own equipment, utilize my current space more efficiently, and gain valuable time for my students.

So a big THANK YOU goes out to my PLN, especially those on Voxer who push me everyday.  Sometimes our own limitations keep us from being the person or educator we wanted to be, but allowing ourselves to “embrace” these limitations can spark the creativity we need to truly become someone great!

We can find inspiration, creativity, and greatness in places we never dreamed of if we keep an open mind, continue to grow and share our greatness with the world!  If you can answer the following questions honestly, you will be able to “embrace the shake” and turn your limitations into something amazing!

Q1:  What limitations do you have professionally? #slowchatpe

Q2: What inspires you to be great? #slowchatpe

Q3: What is one “limitation” that you can act upon tomorrow to make a positive change? #slowchatpe

Q4: What roadblocks/hurdles do you have in your way to transform those limitations into something positive? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who can you lean/rely on to support you, push you, and hold you accountable for making this change? #slowchatpe

Glad I Watched Gleddie!

I am going to start out with the Gold Nugget of the Week.  This will be an addition to my blog where I will share something fantastic that I have come across. This week we have Vicky Goodyear’s VLOG. Watch if you want great pd on physical education. #slowchatpe APPROVED! (need I say more?)

I have just had the pleasure of watching @doug_Gleddie keynote at the IAHPERD CONVENTION thanks to @bulliskari and periscope.  His keynote had several aspects to it that made it outstanding.  The first thing he did was use research to make sure he kept his audience’s engagement.  He accomplished this by getting the whole crowd up and participating in a song of Alive, Awake, Alert, Enthusiastic which he stole from the Girl Scouts.  The song had the crowd singing, clapping, and moving with the moves from Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.  After the song he even commented that he had their attention for 17 more minutes.  That was a great way of reinforcing what we already know. Getting humans up and moving refocuses their attention. It does about 20 other great things for our body, but for educators we need to remember our students (our audience) simply shouldn’t be sitting for long periods of time. It doesn’t matter the level of engagement or empowerment of the students.

The second part of his keynote that I enjoyed was his use of humor. Humor helps students learn.   “In other words, if you’re listening just auditorily in a classroom, one small part of the brain lights up, but humor maximizes learning and strengthens memories.” People listen when you use humor. We all know the dangers of sarcasm and humor that can be taken the wrong way, but we also know that humor breaks down barriers and makes things more fun. Learning should be fun. Why wouldn’t we use humor?

The final takeaway that everyone should know is that physical literacy is a journey.  It is an ever changing unquantifiable concept that will differ for every individual. Phecanada.ca defines it as, “Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.” You can see why it would be so hard to say I have arrived at physical literacy. What we can do is keep that goal in mind. The greatest line of his keynote was, “”We are all physical literacy travel agents.”

This concept of being a physical literacy travel agent makes sense to me. Physical education teachers point their students in the direction of movement. We then combine movement with various other physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills to help students on their own road to physical literacy. We can’t teach physical literacy. We can’t force students to engage in movement outside our classes. What we can do is show them the why, the how, the when, and the where.  We start them on the journey in primary school and continue to guide them throughout the rest of their school years. We wear a million hats as a teacher.  Add travel agent to the list!

Q1: What are your views on physical literacy? #slowchatpe

Q2: How do you use humor to keep your audience engaged? #slowchatpe

Q3: What brain boosts do you use to keep your audience refocused?

Q4: What is the best way to assess a student’s physical literacy journey? #slowchatpe

Q5: What are the best resources for physical literacy? #slowchatpe

The End is Just the Beginning

This year has been quite possibly the craziest year of my life.  The first life changing moment came when my wife gave birth to our son named Jack.  He is our third child and second boy.  We did not find out the gender of any of our children and each time it was as miraculous as the first.  I watched the miracle of birth in action all three times and after every time I wanted to go hug every woman who had a child and tell them how truly heroic they were.

The second milestone that I hit was receiving my second Master’s degree in administration. Degrees don’t mean people are actually smarter than anyone else.  However, they do open doors that were previously locked.  I never thought I would go the administration route. I was not born to wear a suit to work every day.  I do not want or need power over people.   What I do see is a problem with the school system the way it is.  I see teachers at odds with administrators. I see the public skeptical of a school system that seems antiquated. I see people of color fed up with a society that does not seem to value them.  I see people complaining about transforming education but doing very little to change it.

I will bring a new attitude to the ranks of administration.  I will push for my school to honor the individuality of the student as well as the needs of the community. I will highlight the research that shows how movement inside and outside the classroom is the key to the creation of new brain cells as well as the lessening of negative behaviors.  In short I will, “Be the change that I wish to see in the world.” (Ghandi)  The most effective way to implement change is from the administration side of the rope.

The third change in my life was finding Twitter and Voxer.  Twitter chats allow me to meet new people and keep up with old friends.  I am able to see experts on various topics and get a window into how different schools are run.  The chats are great but very superficial.  Twitter also offers me the opportunity to get links to articles and blogs that help refine and reflect on my pedagogy. Twitter is the gateway drug social media.  It gives you a taste of what being connected can do for you.

If Twitter is the gateway drug than Voxer is the heroin and crack of social media. Voxer hooked me up with the top physical education teachers in the world.  Teachers who are using technology and best practices that are light years ahead of what I am seeing in the classroom.  Voxer also has chats that probe much deeper than Twitter.  There are no 140 character limits. The only limit on Voxer is stop talking when you start to ramble. I find Voxer chats to really delve very deeply into the issue. The voice inflection part of Voxer also allows everyone to really hear the full message of what is being intended. Jokes and sarcasm (my favorite) are much easier to pick up on as well.

That is not the best part of Voxer though.  The best part for me are the book clubs that have been started.  We had a book club on Digital Leadership that Eric Sheniger actually participated in! Rafranz Davis participated in a book club for her book Missing Voices in Edtech as well. She was able to expound upon the chapters and really give us pushback during our discussions.  This week ten people will be interviewing Don Wettrick about his book Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level on Voxer. Another book club that really pushed my thinking was Thanks for the Feedback.  The group of people who participated really forced me to justify my statements. Douglas Stone, the author, participated in a Voxer discussion at the end of the book. I am currently in a Voxer group that is dissecting the book Beyond the Bake Sale.  Another reason to love Voxer!

Voxer has really pushed me thinking to amazing heights this year.

As I reflect on the year I come to one long conclusion. My professional development has gone through the roof and I really need to hone in on the best pedagogical approach for me.  I have learned so much this year only to realize I have so far to go.  This year has exhausted me, excited me, and allowed me to realize the only thing stopping me from greatness is me. What about you?

Q1: What is the biggest change you need to make next year? #slowchatpe

Q2: What was the best pd you attended/participated in this year? #slowchatpe

Q3: Who did you become connected with that blew your mind? #slowchatpe

Q4: What will you be doing this summer to improve your pedagogy? #slowchatpe

Q5: How do you reflect on your year? #slowchatpe

Positive Relationships in Education

This week the guest blogger is Mr. Adam Llevo (@mradampe).  Adam is a groundbreaking physical education teacher originally from England and now works at an international school in Saudi Arabia.  He will be presenting at the National PE Institute in North Carolina this summer.  Adam takes technology to an entirely new education level.  If you want to learn more about him visit www.mradampe.com.

His blog post:

I have wanted to write this post for a while, but never seemed to get around to writing it.  From the age of ten I have wanted to become a Physical Education Teacher and everything in my career so far has been done to achieve this goal. I remember my first PE lecture at Edge Hill University where Dr Graham Smith told us “teaching is one big stage and you are the actors, so make this act a good one”.  I will never forget this, as it is so true, once you step inside school then your personal life stays at the front door and disguise_glassesyou become a professional actor! When I say actor I do not mean you dress up in costume for your lessons (well not everyday!) but you do become a positive influence over the young people you inspire.  I was directed to this book (Link) at the early stages of my career and should be a must read for all teachers both old and new to the profession, as the best teachers never stop learning.  It gives some great ideas on how to get the best out of your students.  Everyones teaching and learning journeys will be different on how they came to where they are now, but one thing I have learnt is that relationships are crucial.  Not only with students, but other teachers, admin, parents who help to create the learning environment for all to achieve.  Now I am a very positive person and always look for the positives out of each situation.

I have mentored both old and new teachers and this has helped to see a lot of amazing lessons, but also a lot of not so amazing lessons.  I have always been personally very open to feedback, though I have mentored some who are not so. I have a very open door policy when it comes to teaching as I have nothing to hide, but I know some teachers who have to have a months notice before an observation is allowed.

So what is my point?

I have never really found it hard to strike up conversation with anyone of any age, and this may be down to my life experiences so far.  I have found that by being a positive individual it helps with creating that positive environment in which students are not afraid to FAIL.

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 15.57.56This year especially I have observed individuals social skills and how they interact with people their own age and students in their classroom.  I have been lucky enough to work with a variety of ages throughout my career either in teaching or coaching and know how important it is to get you point across using a variety of methods. Dr Graham Smith use to tell us that as a teacher you need to have a variety of hats on as a teacher and have all these different skills that allow you to become all of these different occupations (Teacher Hats).  Teaching is not how it use to be where teachers walked into the classroom, lectured, students listened and then did a test to see how clever they are.  Teaching has evolved and you need to have a variety of different skills, but communication should be high on that list.

The way people speak to one another, or don’t as the only communicate through email, can be frustrating.   I have always been very patient with people and been told I am a good listener, which helps me to think about how I am going to respond to different scenarios.  I have had the pleasure this year of working with a member of admin who has shown me how important it is to have good positive relationships both in and outside of the classroom to allow others to achieve.  He has shown that by having these positive relationships there is little to no behaviour problems, homework is handed in on time, and students respect the member of staff.  I cannot say that for everyone.  So what does it come down to ? In my opinion it is communication and a mutual respect.

According to the American Psychology Association (link) to develop positive relationships with your students the following needs to take place:

  • “Show your pleasure and enjoyment of students.
  • Interact with students in a responsive and respectful manner.
  • Offer students help (e.g., answering questions in timely manner, offering support that matches students’ needs) in achieving academic and social objectives.
  • Help students reflect on their thinking and learning skills.
  • Know and demonstrate knowledge about individual students’ backgrounds, interests, emotional strengths and academic levels.
  • Avoid showing irritability or aggravation toward students.
  • Acknowledge the importance of peers in schools by encouraging students to be caring and respectful to one another.”

So if this is not happening in your classroom, maybe it should be worth thinking about during your summer break.

“You improve your classroom climate by modeling positive, supportive communications skills and by teaching these skills to students. The great majority of interactions in classrooms are among students. You can influence and encourage respect in these interactions by teaching positive skills. Lessons in listening actively, using “I” messages, and negotiating conflicts show students how to treat each other with respect.”

Campbell, 2014 (link)

A task I use to use with my Sports Coaching students would be to ask them:flying_elephant_by_xlunaticxz-d73m6ov

“What makes a good coach?”

They would then have to draw one animal part that represented each characteristic and then explain the whole animal and what each part means to them. This could be done for teaching at the start of the year to show what your classes think is important to them.   Some of their ideas were amazing.

I would like to finish with a video that had a positive effect of me. Everyone in your class should feel respected and that they are worth something as they come to school to feel amazing.

1. What does your classroom environment look like? What is important to you? #slowchatpe

2. What strategies have you found to be successful in creating your classroom environment? #slowchatpe

3. What is most important to you and why in the classroom? #slowchatpe

4. What hats do you wear and how does that impact your teaching? #slowchatpe

5. What is the most important hat to your students and why? #slowchatpe