Charlottesville Teach-in

Educators, begin the school year strong with pedagogical strategies that counter larger systems of oppression.

Join MAPSO Freedom School and other educators for a Charlottesville Teach-In, your critical professional development and back-to-school anti-racist survival guide. After large group discussion on the social/historical context of the terror in Charlottesville, breakout sessions will focus on responsible teaching in a violent culture, the intersections of race and standardized testing, addressing systems of oppression in subjects like math and science, language and false narratives, and the role of white educators in both upholding and dismantling systems of oppression.

This is the event that I attended on Saturday, September 9, 2017. It started with a keynote from Dr. Leslie Wilson. He had a couple of statements that really made me ponder. The first one was that in 2045 the census bureau predicts that the United States “becomes a majority minority”. What does that mean for us as a country politically, racially, educationally, and all the other allys that I am missing? Will the shoe finally be on the other foot? Where will the power and money be shifted? Will we have to wait that long for us to finally acknowledge our sordid past?

The next point he raised was that the statues in Charlottesville were dedicated to traitors to our country who lost the war. What other country are traitors celebrated with streets and statues lionizing them? Could you imagine a Hitler Avenue (thanks Dr. Bree) in Germany or Stalin Drive in Italy? It’s that simple. There is no discussion or argument that can erase that fact.

One of Dr. Wilson’s other fantastic illuminations is that we have to teach our children that America is not the perfect country that we pretend it is. He didn’t end there though. His full statement was, “America has never been perfect we are working toward perfection. Our students will lead us there.” That is powerful. We have to acknowledge our past but still aim for the American dream of becoming the land of the free and the brave. I too believe that our students can lead us there.

The next speakers were named Dr. Rhea Almeida and Diana Melendez. They both worked for the the The Institute of Family Services. Their talk was the kind that I really dig. They had a clip from the movie Watching Even the Rain. After the clip was shown we had the most interesting dialogue based on this image.

image

The amazing part was that the audience was filled with such a bastion of social justice knowledge that the discussion was rolling deep. It’s truly astounding when a group of brilliant people (myself excluded) can riff about something. It was a shame the time was so short because the dialogue could have continued for an hour easily.

The dialogue centered around the characters and what their hierarchy of power, privilege, and oppression was. It was interesting how point of view has a lot to do with privilege. There were a couple of people who thought one character was Latino while others thought he was white. That interpretation of race changes where the character would be placed on the prism. How often in life does that happen with people? We assume a person is one thing when they identify as another. How does that change where society places them on the pyramid?

After the two speaking slots, we went to a breakout session.  The session I chose was about anti racism in elementary (primary) schools. Dr. Bree did an excellent job of having us interact with each other, getting out of our seats, and creating a safe space to speak.

The major takeaway that I was really able to reflect on was that at this juncture we need to camouflage culturally responsive teaching into our lessons. Any system has its rules and norms. School is no different. One of the rules we need to follow is that we must teach the standards that we are certified in. Some feel the standards need to go but that is a discussion for a different day. When we take the king’s gold (get paid) we sing the king’s song (follow the rules). With that being said every subject has a standard where social justice can be infused with it.

Here are 8 quick examples of how you can be “covered” or “justify” to your administration and guardians why you are teaching culturally responsive or anti racist material in your class. Every one of them is a New Jersey standards that should be mastered by 4th/5th grade.

Social Studies: Equality and fairness. Jim Crow discussion here we go! 1

 

Math: Fractions. 3/5 compromise would fit in perfectly here. 

2

 

Social Studies: Historical Text. Say no more. 4

 

Science: Natural Resources. Humans are natural resources. Discussion on slavery and not being compensated for your labor. 

5

 

Technology: Learners of other cultures. Engage with people and their cultures who don’t look and act like your students. 

6

 

Art: Compare and Contrast. Find work from People of Color and various time periods. Great way to show the value they have added instead of highlighting the plight or deficit of PoC. 

7

 

Language: Culturally authentic materials. IT’S TELLING YOU BRING IN VARIOUS VOICES!

8

 

Physed/Health: Basic human need. Discrimination! Mic drop. I’m out 

3

The point of those examples was to show that in order to be a culturally responsive teacher we don’t have to go outside our area of expertise. The standards are there supporting us! We just have to embrace them.

Dr. Wilson brought up the point that waiting until college to teach our students the real history of the United States is wrong. I believe we need to start discussing skin color, religion, gender, disabilities, and any other identifiable factor with our students starting in kindergarten. Read this to verify the following facts:

Infants begin to notice and respond to skin color cues ( around 6 months old)

1-2 year olds are curious about physical characteristics of self and others (skin color, hair texture, gender anatomy); May “match” people based on physical characteristics.

3-4 year olds Identify and match people according to “racial” physical characteristics and groups, but often confused about complexities of group categories (e.g., “” How can two
children with dark brown skin be in different groups, e.g., African American and
Mexican American).

5-6 year olds Show evidence of societal messages affecting how they feel about their self and /or group identity, i.e., evidence of beginnings of internalized superiority (IS) or
internalized oppression

May select to play only with children close to their gender and racial/cultural
identities, but may also reject members of their own racial/cultural group (e.g.
darker skinned African American children, Spanish-speaking Latino children)

May use prejudicial insults and name-calling to show anger or aggression, knowing
that these terms hurt.

Do those facts make you think we need to wait to talk about visually identifying characteristics? Dr. Bree hammered it home when she said we teach our preschoolers to sort by colors and then turn around and say our kids don’t see color.

I would like to thank Mapso and specifically Okaikor for creating a day that can change students lives. The time for talking is over. We now need to take what we are learning and put it to good use.

 

 

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Depression is Real

This week I have a guest blog that cut right to the heart of what depression is and what it looks like. Take a look at what is going on with the people around you and be cognizant of any changes in them. You never know where and when depression may strike.

I can’t stand this constant feeling of self-doubt and worthlessness. I’ve always been one that has poo-pooed mental health issues, especially “depression”. Maybe I felt that the term was just thrown around too often and easily, or that I possibly didn’t think it truly existed. That was until just recently when I came to the realization that I was stuck in the middle of a depressive episode that wouldn’t go AWAY!!  I’ve always had these feeling of self-doubt, low self-esteem, sadness, fatigue, etc., but I would simply attribute it to stress. Everyone has stress, everyone feels this way sometimes, right??  As I write this, I hope it provides me with a way to deal with this current episode. About 2-3 weeks ago, with the start of a new school year, I noticed these feelings starting overcoming me. As I dismissed it as stress, I went about my normal routine of exercising, eating right, working on what I was passionate about (PE, Teaching).

Previously, these feeling would subside after a day or two so I wouldn’t think anything of it. This time days went by and they were still there, getting stronger. One of the first things I did was look up symptoms of “depression” on WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and CDC websites. As I scanned the list of symptoms I was able to check them ALL of, and it hit me like a ton of bricks!!  The biggest thing that I noticed was that I had NO desire to do anything that normally mattered to me. I stopped working out, began to eat like crap, had no interest in Social Interaction (left all Social Media).  To make things worse, this all began as the school year started. I do my best to put on a good show at school!! It’s a struggle at times, but being with the kids makes it easier. By the end of the day, I’m beyond exhausted. I’m at the point where I stopped bringing anything home to work on, I’m considering NOT having my after-school running program, stopped helping other teachers. I tend to stay in my hole, come and go without much interaction at all. It’s tough to get excited about things when you feel like nobody appreciates you and what you try to offer. Professionally, I’ve offered to help or be apart of special/extra groups or projects that I’m extremely interested in, but have been told no or have simply heard no response after days/weeks.

I’m at the point where I stopped bringing anything home to work on, I’m considering NOT having my after-school program, stopped helping other teachers. I tend to stay in my hole, come and go without much interaction at all. It’s tough to get excited about things when you feel like nobody appreciates you and what you try to offer. Professionally, I’ve offered to help or be apart of special/extra groups or projects that I’m extremely interested in, but have been told no or have simply heard no response after days/weeks.

It’s hard to quantify what it’s like to have these thoughts and feelings. I’m constantly exhausted, no interest in hobbies/passions, self-doubt, worthlessness, anger, sadness, even suicide. There have been times in which I’ve put considerable thought into the easiest way to kill myself(where and how). In these periods of absolute darkness, it’s been my Kids that squash any of these thoughts. It becomes almost impossible to love anyone else when you don’t love yourself. My kids have been the only exception. I couldn’t imagine putting them through the loss of their father. And although I don’t always have love to give, they seem to find a way to sure their love with me. If I didn’t have them in my life, I’m not sure I’d be writing this.  

I look back over the past 20 years and it hits me that this isn’t the first time I’ve experienced these thoughts and feelings!! I can honestly say that I’ve probably ruined many relationships because of it. Truthfully, I don’t have many friends! None from high school, college, work or my neighborhood. I used to always blame others for not calling, hanging out, etc. As I come to terms with what’s actually happening I’d be willing to bet I had a large part in how things transpired. I hope that by finally acknowledging what I’m going through I can keep from ruining the few relationships I have. There are a handful of friends, you know who you are, that I truly respect and admire who have influenced me to share my experience. Without them, I would never have the courage to share my story.

As this inner fight continues, I hope to find the strength to overcome these feelings of isolation and despair. I ask you to always consider the emotional state of others as we may not realize what they are going through.  If someone you know becomes distant, temperamental or just “off” please reach out, show you care! The smallest gesture could mean the world of difference to someone.

I know life is turbulent with school starting, the state of our country, family, and every other emotional and physical drain we have. However, we can’t forget that the individuals that surround us have to be a priority. Please make sure that you are checking in with your loved ones and making them feel that you care about them. Thank you for reading this blog and I love you all.

Staying True to Yourself

There were two whirlwinds that caused major disruption over the weekend. The first one devastated Houston and was named Hurricane Harvey. Two people have already died and the flooding doesn’t seem to be subsiding anytime soon. The Houston Independent School District has already cancelled school for the week. One can only imagine the destruction that flooding will do to the buildings as well as the supplies and electronics in there.

One tweet really caught my eye about the storm. As I look at the coverage of the storm in the next few weeks I will examine who is being harmed the most in this

hurricane

process. I am sure that it will be eye opening for me to see what exactly systemic inequity looks like now in my social justice journey as opposed to when Hurricane Katrina hit and I was still unaware of how exactly race, gender, culture, SES, and religion all intersect and affect people. I realize that this is what social justice advocates and change agents have been yelling from the rooftops for years it just took me longer than most to get a clear understanding of what this looks like systematically.

On a more positive note, the second whirlwind I alluded to early was the #PhysEdSummit. This could have been the most impressive 24 hours of professional development that Team Physedagogy has produced yet. My favorite session so far was done with by Dr. Martha James-Hassan. Her session was titled: Anatomy of Inequality: Understanding the role of physical education in addressing the academic needs of the whole child. Martha is someone who is going to push your thinking farther than it has ever gone before. She currently teaches at Morgan State University which is a HBCU (historically black college or University). I personally consider her to be one of the trailblazers of social justice in all of education not just PhysEd.

The one line that stood out to me in her presentation was that we need to know how to code shift. It immediately struck me that she used code shift instead of code shift. I had understood code switching to be,

the use  of one dialect, register, accent, or language variety over another,    depending on social or cultural context, to project a specific identity link 

In my life, an example of this would be the language I use at school in my classroom versus the language I use when I am playing in my old man basketball games. I would imagine that most people do this code switching without even realizing it.

Dr. James-Hassan used the term code shifting. When I asked her about this she said that code shifting was the idea that you are staying truer to yourself. This makes much more sense. I am not trying to be someone else when I change the way I speak. I am just different versions of myself. I highly recommend you watch her free YouTube presentation using this link.

I was lucky enough to also facilitate a session on how we use social media to reflect and change our educational practices. The panel that was assembled was second to none! We had Sherri Spelic, Ron Madison, Mike Morris, Rich Wiles, Shre Lynch, Dorian Roberts, Makisha Rodgers, and Toutoule Ntoya enlightening us on the various ways to produce as well as consume using social media. The idea behind the session was that if you aren’t changing your practices using social media than you are wasting your time. If you would like to watch the session click this link.

One of the great takeaways from the session was the cooperative games unit created by Rich Wiles on the US OPEN website.

Each activity is meant to provide a global education experience in a setting that stretches just beyond a student’s comfortable performance zone.

Another gold nugget was Ron Madison describing how he uses OBS when he Periscopes or does Facebook Live. OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software. It basically gives you a boatload of options when you record your live feeds. You can check it out more here. Also, follow Ron Madison on Twitter to see his #Passthescopeedu.

One of my favorite writers in all of education is Sherri Spelic. She goes by the name @edifiedlistener on Twitter. Her blogs cover everything from her renewed participation in sports to her teaching to social justice to digital equity and so much more. When I get alerted that she has written a new post I carve out some time when I can really sit down and internalize what she has written. The fact that she made the time to jump on the panel warmed my heart.

I really appreciated everyone giving their time to either participate or watch during the PhysEd Summit. Together we can raise not just Physical Education but all of education to heights it hasn’t seen before. This can only occur when we get to the point where we understand that we are the change agents that are the world’s last line of defense against hatred, bigotry, and the devaluation of education.

My heart goes out to those in Houston. The Houston Food BankGalveston County Food Bank, and Corpus Christi Food Bank all are accepting online donations. If you have a couple of dollars please help those who need it the most. Thank you.

 

Chocolate and Money

I am sitting on a plane on my way to California to speak about movement in the classroom to a group of teachers. I strike up a conversation with a Jewish woman next to me who is reading a book the Talmud. A young man who looks of Indian descent is having occasional outbursts is seated to my right. A Latin X gentleman in front of me is rocking the man bun while a woman of Asian descent is waiting for the food cart to move so she can sit back down.  I have officially left my bubble and entered the real world. The past couple of years has forced me to readjust how I look at the world and the people in it.

I received an email from Rich Dixon asking me if I would like to present to a group of educators about movement in the classroom in California. I met Rich at the Cue Nevada state conference last year which the fantastically amazing Heidi Carr had invited Sarah Thomas and me to attend as well as keynote. I have written previously how Rich opened my eyes to what badging should and could be. The idea is that a badge should be linked to the evidence that was created to earn it was definitely a game changer for me.

I responded that I would love to speak about movement let’s get this thing rolling! Rich got me in touch with Michelle, my conference liaison, and I asked her what they wanted me to speak about. She stated they wanted me to address crossing the midline, technology’s role in attention span as well as movement in the classroom. I knew one out of three of these topics extremely well so of course, I said yes! Wonder if this link has anything to do with that!

The first thing I needed to do was find the research about crossing the midline. I knew that Mike Kuczala had a boatload of activities that I could use to show how to cross the midline in his book the Kinesthetic Classroom. That seemed like a logical place to start. The problem is in his book he just states that there is not a lot of research showing the positive effects of specifically crossing the midline. My next step brought me to Brain Gym.

Brain Gym® movements, exercises, or activities refer to the original 26 Brain Gym movements, sometimes abbreviated as the 26. These activities recall the movements naturally done during the first years of life when learning to coordinate the eyes, ears, hands, and whole body. The twenty-six activities, along with a program for “learning through movement” were developed by educator and reading specialist Paul E. Dennison and his wife and colleague, Gail E. Dennison who say that the interdependence of movement, cognition, and applied learning is the basis of their work. Clients, teachers, and students have been reporting for over 20 years on the effectiveness of these simple activities. Link 

I ran into a couple of problems when attempting to find results from Brain Gym. In their own words, “Some academics consider only experimental research (statistical research with control groups) to be scientific. You’ll find the studies that most adhere to this standard in our Annotated Research subcategories “Quasi-Experimental Research” and “True Experimental Research”. Link  They also publish their own journal and cite evidence there. While I value anecdotal evidence I can’t in good conscience present material that is published by a for profit company by that same company. I also came across some information that directly discredited the company’s work. link

Luckily I had an ace up my sleeve. The man the myth the legend Mike Kuczala himself. Mike is on Voxer and readily gives the #PhysEd and #HealthEd community his time and energy. We had some really cool discussions and I was finally able to come up to terms with this thought process. Crossing the midline falls under that category of bi-lateralization. Bi-lateralization refers to the ability to coordinate both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner.

There are numerous valid and reliable resources that show how important bi-lateralization is for the human brain and body. All crossing the midline activities are bilateral but not all bilateral movements involve crossing the midline. Let me give you an example of this. In the beginning of Mike’s TedX talk, he has us grab our nose with our right hand and grab our right ear with our left hand. He then instructs us to switch our left hand to our nose and grab our left ear with our right hand. That is crossing the midline because our body parts crossed over the imaginary line that divides us into the left and right side of our body. Dribbling two basketballs simultaneously with your right and left hand is an example of bilateral movement because there are no parts of the body that are crossing the sagittal (lateral) plane.

What I can safely say about crossing the midline is that they are fun brain boosts and work on bi-lateralization which improves the brain’s ability to speak to the left and right hemisphere by creating a thicker corpus callosum well as creating thicker myelin sheaths. Myelin allows your brain to send information faster and more efficiently, making it absolutely essential for the optimal functioning of your nervous system. (link) I cannot, however, state that crossing the midline movements are better than bilateral movements that do not cross the midline.

If you thought that my journey on finding research about crossing the midline was difficult I came up with another journey when I tried to find a link between the increase in the use of technology and the attention span of our children. I actually found very little research about attention span at all. One of the reasons for this is that there are so many variables when figuring out attention spans. The same kids we label with attention span difficulties can participate in activities they find engaging for hours. Think about your own attention span. You struggle to listen to a speaker who talks at you yet you can binge watch on Netflix without looking at your phone for hours.

chocI did stumble across some research that allowed me to form an interesting hypothesis on why our students are so attachchoced to their tech. When you have something that is liked or favorited on social media that activates the same receptors in the brain that eating chocolate or winning money does. (link) Might this include getting a text message or alert on social media as well? We as teachers are forcing students to learn about things they may not necessarily care about and are simultaneously fighting the feelings of winning money and eating chocolate!!

The next logical question is what do we do with this information? Do we only teach things that our students want to learn about similar to an unschooling model? That may be one answer although I don’t know enough about unschooling to figure out its weaknesses as well as the ability for school systems to be able to implement the concept.

My idea is twofold. The first thing we have to do is increase the engagement of our students. There is no doubt about that. The idea that the teacher should stand and talk for 45 minutes or longer is antiquated and ridiculous. We need to involve our students in the learning. Those that do, learn. Have your ss lead and participate in discussions or group work. Play music, allow your students mini-breaks, utilize brain boosts, or show relevant videos and texts that the students can relate to. Figure out a way to stop being boring. A simple stand and turn and talk works wonders!

The second part of this is understanding that students need to build the capacity for doing things they don’t enjoy in order to learn and be able to do the things they do enjoy. An example of this is my friend Rob who is a brew master. He hated reading and only went to college because that was what he was supposed to do according to his upbringing. He now reads textbooks about chemistry and reads anything about brewing he can get his hands on. He is able to do that because he knows that this information is relevant to him right now as well as the future. He also has built up the capacity to get through the “boring stuff” in order to bring more satisfaction to his process of brewing.

Hopefully, the participants at the conference will take away some important pieces of information. The first part is that crossing the midline can only have positive benefits for our learners; however, there is not enough evidence that doing those movements will have more benefit than bilateral movements. The second big idea is that we are fighting the pleasurable feelings of eating chocolate and winning money which affects our students ability to pay attention and stay on task. Both these concepts can help shape your teaching. What will you do with this information?

 

#CharlottesvilleCurriculum

This blog has no other choice but to discuss what happened yesterday on Saturday, August 12, 2017. Here is what happened according to CNN:

  • Counterprotesters met white nationalists and other right-wing groups at the site of Saturday’s “Unite the Right” event hours before the rally was set to start.

  • Clashes broke out and police began to disperse crowds.

  • Local officials declared the rally an “unlawful assembly” and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency.

  • About two hours later, a gray Dodge Challenger rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters killing a 32 year old woman.

    For those who may be confused about the alt-right or white nationalism, it is no different than white supremacy. They changed the name to make themselves seem less sinister. To some white nationalism may seem like the antithesis of Black Lives Matter. That would be wrong.

    white supremacists or the alt-right as they are rebranding themselves, believe:

The Alternative Right, commonly known as the Alt-Right, is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. Characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes, Alt-Righters eschew “establishment” conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value. Link

The alt right and white nationalists believe this is their country and that no one else should succeed but them.

Black Lives Matter believe:

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression. link

Black Lives Matter want freedom and justice for themselves before they worry about others.

That distinction makes all the difference in the world. Black Lives Matter want the same opportunities and freedoms that whites and other groups have. They do not want it at others expense. white supremacists (the real term not nationalists) want to keep their advantage over other groups. Black Lives Matters believes that all groups can succeed. Their position statement explicitly includes the LGBTQIA community in their mission as well as other marginalized groups. As I read on someones Twitter feed they don’t want people on their knees in order for them to stand tall.

The leader of the white supremacists is a person named Richard Spencer. His idea is that we need to have an all white country. When asked how this could be accomplished he stated, “Look, maybe it will be horribly bloody and terrible. That’s a possibility with everything.” link What makes this scary is that these groups don’t even hide behind hoods. They protest without the use of hoods or identity hiding apparel. This isn’t some group of people way back in our history. This is happening right now in 2017.

This leads us back to the protests in #charlottesville on Saturday, August 12. The protesters for the white supremacists sprayed people with mace, kerosine, carried tiki torches and were giving the nazi salute and shouting nazi slogans. Link This was the fear I had over a year ago when I wrote this blog about how our students and our country would be put in peril with the election of Donald Trump. I am not blaming Trump for this only for emboldening the white supremacists by hiring their people on his staff and giving them every opportunity to believe that he agrees with them. Our citizens alone are to blame for the current state of the nation.

The blame lies fully in our politicians and Americans who voted for Trump and gave the white supremacists the courage to step out of the shadows. Some people said that having Trump elected was good because now we can rip the band-aid off and deal with our racial history and problems. Well, the band-aid wasn’t just ripped off we stuck the knife right back in where it has been for over 400 years.

What is more bothersome than old racists are young racists. An example of this is a picture of a young man who is screaming during this latest debacle. The 20-year-old college student was interviewed and stated, “I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was. I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.” Link  When you look like an angry racist and are protesting with an angry racist group what else would he have us believe? Here is where his racism stands out. “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.”

When you look like an angry racist and are protesting with an angry racist group that is attacking people and attempting to set a woman doused with kerosene in a wheel chair on fire what else would you have us believe? Here is where his racism stands out. “As a white nationalist, I care for all people. We all deserve a future for our children and for our culture. White nationalists aren’t all hateful; we just want to preserve what we have.” That statement is full of racism.

This country was founded and successful by creating the biggest slave trade market in the history of the world. What white people have has come at the expense of every other group that has either been forced in or entered of their own volition. This lack of understanding is what white supremacy is built upon. The idea that we (white people) have worked hard to get where we are. While that may be true we have been running the marathon on flat ground while others have been running up and down mountains.

How can we combat these young racists? What is the next actionable step we can take to remedy this as educators? My idea is to use Andy Vasily’s unit level planning guide.andy_ The part of the guide that I want to concentrate on is called the Suggested Related Concepts. This is where the students will be able to bring in their experiences with ethnicity, heritage, and gender. The toughest part will be for me to bring this authentically into the unit. I will keep you updated with my progress in this endeavor.

I would suggest to other educators that you do something in the same vein if you aren’t already. It does not matter what subject you teach. There has to be a way that we can reach and teach the whole child. One positive thing that happened from this was the creation of the #CharlottesvilleCurriculum. There are so many great ideas on what educators can do in their classroom. These suggested concepts will fit easily into social studies, language, art, music, and science. We have to do something to make this world better.

According to Elie Wiesel, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” If we go about our business as usual then we, in turn, are indifferent to hate.

Social Media and Reflection

Dear Educators,

How and why do we use blogging or social media to reflect and improve as a teacher? That is the question we are going to analyze and dissect on August 26 at 3 p.m. EST as part of the 24-hour online professional development known as the PhysEdSummit.

The #PhysEdSummit is a FREE online conference put on by health and physical education professionals for health and physical education professionals. It is a virtual conference featuring 50-minute #HealthEd and #PhysEd webcasts. It starts at 8am Eastern Time (New York) on August 26, 2017. This FREE PD event will provide the global #HealthEd and #PhysEd communities access to presentations about best practices, teaching strategies, top tips, and cutting-edge resources. (link)

I will be hosting a panel that will include: 

Victor Small (@mrsmall215)

Makisha Rogers (@kisha4tech)

Shrehan Lynch (@misslynchpe)

Dorian Roberts (@drroberts)

Mike Morris (@mikemorrispe)

Nicholas Endlich (@nicholasendlich)

Ron Madison (@madison_ron)

Toutoule Ntoya (@toutoulentoya)

What is amazing about this group of educators is that they use multiple platforms to reflect and grow. All of us use Voxer and Twitter while some also specialize in blogging, Periscope, Vlogging, and Zoom to grow both professionally and personally. The best part of this session is that it will be interactive. People can chime in on the side as well as pop in on air if they have any questions or comments.

If you are a Physical Education or Health teacher, supervisor, or just want to know more about the world of Physed and Health you should click this link to get to the conference program and RSVP for this free professional development. This is the PD of the present and future. You won’t find consultants talking about what they used to do. You will find real teachers and professors who are doing the work right now and sharing their knowledge with the world for free!!

As you reflect on your why behind your social media use and reflection/improvement please feel free to leave comments below. I will be reading them on air during the August 26 video hangout and 3 pm EST. As always I appreciate your time.

Sincerely,

Justin

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.