Attitude of Gratitude: Andrew Vasily

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about all these young physical education teachers who have high social media profiles and have less than ten years of teaching experience. Many see these teachers as experts in the field due to their use and knowledge of technology. I would lump myself in that category as well. My technology knowledge may be beneficial to some teachers but teaching is more than just technology. It is about creating meaningful relationships with our students and allowing them to see that movement is necessary to flourish. The newest app or easiest way to collect data isn’t necessarily going to do that. Let’s not overlook the veterans of the teaching game, and their wisdom, just because they aren’t the Googliest of the bunch. With that idea in mind, this blog is going to highlight one of the greatest teachers I have ever come in contact with. His name is Andy Vasily.

Some of us only half-jokingly call Andy the Yoda of the Physical Education World. When you talk to Andy he has an aura that can only be described as Zen. He looks at life through a different lens. One of the reasons why I hold Andy in such high esteem is that he understands just how fleeting life can be. He seems to understand life at a much deeper level than the rest of us.

One of the reasons for this was his near death experience when he put his arm through a bus window. He talks more about that in depth during his Voxcast interview. Andy also has lived through the death of his brother due to drugs and alcohol. He speaks openly and candidly about it on episode 46 of his Run Your Life Podcast. I can only imagine that once you really entertain your mortality as well as your closest family member’s it will completely change your outlook on life.

Just to give you a quick understanding of Andy’s background:

Andy Vasily is a leading teacher who has taught at International Baccalaureate schools in 5 different countries over the past 18 years. He completed his teaching training at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. Andy is currently a pedagogical coach at the King Abdul University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. He is also an international educational consultant and founder of the award winning blog www.pyppewithandy.com. Andy previously worked as a Child-Youth Counsellor at a young offender’s facility in Windsor, Ontario and it was through this experience that he first realized the stumbling blocks and injustices that many of these young people faced in their daily experience. As a direct result of seeing a need for change, he pursued a full-time career as an educator. Wanting to push his own understanding of teaching and learning to a deeper level, Andy made the decision to begin blogging in order to share his teaching practice and connect with other educators and top researchers around the world. The value that he saw in this exchange of vision and practical applications led to an enriched professional learning journey that he has shared with practitioners and scholars alike. Andy is an innovator in the area of education and has continued growing his commitment to student learning by bringing the global community together to create meaningful progress in the way students learn around the globe. Link 

Here is the crux of Andy’s philosophy in his own words:

“I highly value the physical education profession and believe that we, as PE practitioners, can and should have an amazing influence on the students that we teach. PE is no longer just about teaching essential skills related to sport. We have a responsibility to empower our students to believe in themselves, to deepen their understanding of the life skills that are necessary now and in the future, and to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to learn about positively interacting with others.”

I am still finding my way in the education world. My educational philosophy has directly been impacted by Andy and two of his guests he has interviewed on the Run Your Life Podcast. Those two people were Dr. Kretchmar and Jim Roussin. All three of these people understand that teaching is about journeying to a deeper level. It’s not about movement or sport or even being healthy. It is about getting to understand yourself as a person. Our students are just starting to explore who they are and what they are about. The beauty of teaching though is that we as the teachers are gaining that same insight into our lives by interacting with our students. We are co-constructing this knowledge together. I may know more technical information that my students but I don’t have all the answers. Together we go on a journey and learn from and with each other on the way.

Andy is the embodiment of a life long learner. He continues to read, write, and interview people in order to achieve personal and professional excellence. The best part of that is he is allowing us to go on the voyage with him. I have to admit I am not only a better teacher because of him I am also a better human being.

You can find Andy’s blog, podcast, and tons of other resources here. I highly recommend you start with listening to The Power of Self-Authoring episodes #46 with Jim Roussin, #44 with Maddy Hewitt and Cathy Berger Kaye, and #52 with Dr. Kretchmar. There are plenty of other people he interviews such as Eric Sheniger, Dr. Kriellaars, Dean Dudley, Martha James-Hassan, Jorge Rodriguez, Jarrod Robinson, and Mike Kaczala who will expand your mind as well as make you question whether you are living your life to the fullest.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Andy for taking the time and energy to help the next generation understand the depth and complexity of teaching. We are searching for meaning not only in our professional lives but in our personal lives as well. As Andy says there is no separation between the two. I know I personally have benefitted from his work which means that my students have had their class experience shaped by him as well. In an age where technology can be mistaken for excellent pedagogy, Andy is a beacon of light that shines high above the fray. He encourages us to be the best version of ourselves we can be, and that my friends is something to be grateful for.

 

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One thought on “Attitude of Gratitude: Andrew Vasily

  1. Andrew Vasily

    Justin, I sincerely appreciate your kind words. It has been a very rewarding journey learning from the guests I’ve interviewed on my podcast. Although some would feel that many of my guests have nothing to do with physical education at all, the core values that they embody have everything to do with being the very best educators that we can be. There are many teachers in our field who are doing amazing work and continue to build upon their discipline specific knowledge with regularity.

    However, our work in physical education is about more than specific teaching models, fitness activity stations, and technology (as you refer to). These things are very relevant to great teaching, but the ability to be critically reflective of our own practice should be at the core of what we do. Better understanding why we teach the way we do and being ultra aware of the core values that we hold front and center in our lives. Do these core values enhance student learning in our physical education programs or do they potentially hinder student learning in our physical education programs?

    Since you started up your blog, your posts have been a reflection of your learning journey. Although some physical education professionals might think that your blogs have nothing to do with PE itself, everything that you have written about over the past couple of years has no doubt had a tremendous impact on how you deliver your physical education program. In striking a fine balance between deepening your discipline specific knowledge AND critically reflecting on your own learning, every student that you teach in physical education greatly benefits from this journey. Thanks for your hard work and for continually sharing your learning journey with teachers in our network.

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