For over a month now the United Kingdom has been in lockdown due to the hard hitting Corona virus pandemic. It has affected many people all over the world. Economies of many countries are being affected. People's livelihoods are now more limited. We are having to think about what we spend our money on and what is important for our families right now.
We have seen a rise in tensions across the world as the crisis continues. Many people have lost their jobs and have nowhere to turn to. Governments are trying to solve these problems on a day to day basis but can not keep up with expectations and the needs of their people. Not only is there a rise in unemployment and uncertainly, there is a rise in anxiety and stress amongst everyone.
The mental health of many people will be tested. Families will suffer and children will miss their friends. Industries will be strained as people try to continue to work at the same rate they did before to keep up the businesses. These are trying times. We will all be confronted with varying issues which we will have to find solutions to.
The last few years of my life, I have had some very challenging times. I have experienced situations that have tested my resolve and exposed my brittleness. We all have challenging times but we have to find a way of overcoming them and trying to stay strong. I have been very lucky in my life. I have had very good friends around me and a supportive family. In these times and many others like this it is important to remember who has been there for you and who still is.
As a physical education teacher, I believe it is my purpose to expose and educate those around me about health and physical activity. As a PE department, during these times, we have been challenging each other with various activities to complete. This started with creating workout videos for our students to exercise challenges like the 'spell your name' challenge.
I am a big advocate of mental health, especially men's mental health which is often overlooked. One charity I am actively involved with on an annual basis is Movember. Six days ago I was made aware of a challenge my cousin's husband, Duncan Bawler, put on facebook. It was to do 25 push-ups a day for 25 days. The intention was to raise awareness for those suffering with post traumatic stress disorder. A disorder which can drive people to having severe anxiety and depression.
I began the challenge after being nominated by my brother but I decided that I would add one push-up each day. The increase was put there to motivate me to do that extra push-up. The challenge is about determination and perseverance as it has been prescribed over a certain period of time. We post a video of our push-ups each day on Facebook and twitter. Posting these videos and putting this challenge out there to others has made me even more determined to continue.
I have decided to add my videos here in the blog. I will add all 25 videos as a record of this achievement but also as a challenge to anyone who reads this blog. Can you show determination and perseverance in these hard times ?
As I come to the end of my time here in Korea. I am in the process of planning a 'New' unit. This year in grade 6 we have decided to create an 'Adventure Challenge' unit. We want the students to plan an adventure challenge for a younger class. Aspects of adventure activities could include Rock Climbing, Orienteering, Archery and Parkour. We will concentrate on teaching Rock Climbing for a couple of weeks, then indulge in the other three. Maybe we might find something different to add too.
I usually look at the Key Concept first. We had a discussion about this but decided the students will be working together on the task so 'Relationships' would be the best key concept to concentrate on. The students have already worked with this concept and putting it into a different context would give them a broader understanding.
The Related Concepts of 'Systems' and 'Environment' came to mind because we knew the students would be working in varied environments and looking at different systems to work within when creating their plans.
The Global Context exploration was 'Processes and Solutions'. We felt looking through this lense would be appropriate for a task such as this as the planning aspect is a process and students would be coming up with solutions for many problems they may find on the way. Collaborating with their peers would sometimes cause conflict and they would have to come up with resolutions.
The ATL skills are as follows:
Social - ii) Collaboration skills - Delegate ad share responsibility for others - Exercise leadership and take on a variety of roles within a group. iii) Organizational skills - Create plans for summative assessments - Set goals that are challenging and realistic.
Self-Management - iv) Affective Skills - Perseverance/ Demonstrate persistence and perseverance - Resilience/ Practice 'bouncing back' after adversity, mistakes and failure.
Thinking - viii) Critical-thinking skills - Recognize and evaluate propositions - Evaluate and manage risk - propose and evaluate a variety of solutions
I think these will all be important. Whilst we will probably cover others, I think it is important to focus on particular ATL skills when going through the unit to make sure you recognize, discuss and teach them well enough for students to take something away.
Of course this unit will develop and we will reflect of how it goes at the end of the unit. As we go through this changes in MYP and take on the challenges that are presented with these changes, we need to adapt and look at different ways of approaching tasks as well as putting giving opportunities for students to 'think' and not just be asked to do something.
I have now been teaching abroad for a total of 16 years. My wife and I have worked in five different countries. This is my 22nd year as a teacher and I am still embracing change into my life. We decided this year to move back to Europe and in particular set our sites on the UK. My son has a desire to live in the country of his birth and we decided it might be a good idea for him to see out his last few years of school in the UK, before he heads out to University.
My wife has managed to secure a teaching position in a school she desired. It will be a good development for her as it is slightly different from the one she currently has. The school will also be a good fit for both my son and daughter, as they will be able to continue the kind of education and curriculum they are used to.
I have not managed to secure a job yet. I have found it frustrating at times, interesting and also educational. The process has been a much longer one than I am used to. We have been used to having help when going for new jobs. When we have decided to 'Move on' we usually go to a job fair and join their database. This allows schools to find all the information they need on us as educators. It allows them to contact us ahead of time and possibly skype interview instead of or before the job fair. We have secured our jobs without having to fly out to that country for one interview. Unfortunately, the expectation is quite the opposite for me this time.
I forgot what it was like to apply for jobs in the UK. I suppose I thought the process had moved on with the technology we have currently. I have been used to having an online presence and being able to use skype or other forms to connect with people. It seems though, changes are hard to make when traditions prevail. I find it hard to believe that I am still being asked for my secondary school exam result and the actual dates when I took them. I even had an application ask for the examining board for each subject. I took these exams nearly 30 years ago!
There seem to be many changes in the UK which I did not realize. There are many more background checks, which I totally agree with. There are so many more abbreviations such as QTS, TRN, NQT, DBS, OTT...I need to spend time researching what these mean and how they affect me.
I think, I have spent my time keeping up with the changes in the international teaching world and not what has gone on back in the UK. Maybe it is time to do this. I often think about how I am going to to fit back into the 'system' and how I can bring what I have learned globally back to teaching PE in the UK. I wonder if my experiences are relevant but hope that they are. Will the concept and inquiry based curriculum I am used to have a place in the educational system in my home country? Can a Brit from abroad bring back something they have learned and make an impact? Is there a need for this and if so, why?
I wonder about other teachers returning to their home countries and the experiences they have had. Are there similar difficulties experienced, big changes seen and expectations they have for themselves?
I also participated in The National PE Institute conference in Asheville, NC. It was a big conference I had heard about through Artie Kamiya, whom I connected with on twitter. I really wanted to go as I had been told it was a great conference. I had the opportunity to meet the PE teachers who have set up Physedagogy and attended some of their workshops. If you ever get the chance to go to this conference, it's well worth it!
When you visualize something that you want to achieve in your career, can you achieve it? In a blog by Marelisa Fabrega, she points out how Eckhart Tolle believes there are three things to happiness. These three things can help you visualize where you want to go and what you want to achieve in a more positive light as you focus on the present and don't let your ego take over.
When leading you need to have a clear vision of where you want to go and how you want to lead. I think it is important to express this clearly to your team, colleagues or faculty from the beginning. Show what you expect and how it will be achieved. This can only be done with a clear vision.
To move forward and inspire change in others it is important to understand yourself and make necessary changes in yourself first. In McKinsey Quarterly, Nate Boaz and Erica Ariel Fox point this put in their article 'Change leader, change thyself'. If you can instill the changes in yourself first and understand those changes, you could inspire others to do the same. It is also important to understand that to change your department, school, organization it is the people that have to change first. Change can be hard for people but it can also be positive especially in these changing times.
One of the things I learned about myself was what type of personality I have as a teacher. I think I already knew but did not have a name or category for it. During the 21st Century Leadership conference (please see previous blog), Maxine asked us to carry out a personality test. There are a few, like the Myers Briggs type indicator, Belbin team roles test and 4MAT test. We took the Gregorc style delineator test. This was very specific and helped us learn more about ourselves and our relationships with others.
This part of the workshop really made me think about who I am and what I bring to my team as a leader. I also realized that it is so important to know and accept who you are. I have a clearer understanding of where I want to go with my team and where I want to go with my career. Maybe it is time you found out who you really are and what you really want to do.
It has been some time since I have written a blog. I have continued to use twitter and facebook to connect and spread my thoughts and feelings about education.
This weekend though, I was inspired to write a blog again. I had a very productive learning and collaborative time whilst attending a workshop (#thinkstrategicworkshop #cihosts) by Maxine Driscoll. You can follow her on twitter @maxinedriscoll.
Maxine has been in education internationally for many years. She has held many leadership positions in a variety of schools. She has recently developed the 21st century think strategic idea. From this a website has been developed with a blog, resources, links for workshops and more.
Our 'Focus' this year at our school is Balance. This is intended for us to find balance in our lives. I of course think this is essential but often ignored in this modern day. Personally, this is something I need to find in my life this year more than ever.
I have found in my job this year there is so much more to do, set up, organise and think about. Most of this is supplementary to the teaching and pedagogical discussions I have with my team as department head. There are so many other non-teaching aspects of my job which also require my time and energy.
One of the biggest obligations I have has been scheduling facilities. The elementary, middle and high school PE teachers all share the same facilities but have different timetables and lesson lengths. I have the responsibility of managing the allocation of PE facilities which include scheduling facilities for classes as well as requests from other teachers to use our facilities. As a department we share and all realise that we can only have what is available at certain times. This is all dependent on the units we teach and the facilities we need. It can be hard at times when there are many classes scheduled at the same time and we all need facilities. Then there are times when only a few classes have been scheduled and only a few facilities are needed. This whole process needs to looked at and put into balance.
As a department head I also have the responsibility of dealing with broken equipment, ordering new equipment, making sure storerooms are organised as well as the equipment in them and dealing with the budget. There are also many other things which crop up that has to be dealt with. Of course I realise that being able to delegate is an important characteristic of someone who leads but I find it is also important to realise what needs to be delegated and when.
How to create a balanced life. Some useful ways of organising yourself and thought and meaningful way of thinking in this article I read recently.
I've recently started managing my second season of the adult team I play for. I am the manager, coach, secretary, etc. I know I took this on myself and am often someone who should ask for help but doesn't always. I suppose I feel when I do ask for help I don't always get it in the time required.
I do love organizing and this year have taken on a lot with my job as head of physical education at the school I work in. The job has been very challenging with some major hills and mountains that I have had to scale. I have dealt with many unexpected turns in the path and had to deal with them head on. The challenges have been stressful. I am lucky to be married to someone strong enough who will listen to me but also tell me to get on with it.
I have also started coaching after school again. I coach the JV boys football team. I actually find this part of my life less stressful as I do not really have to plan as much as I know exactly what I am doing. There is far less organization than that of managing your own team, as the schedules are already set by the Athletic Director as well as all the other things she has to do. I mainly just have to coach a bunch of boys who love playing football.
The adults team on the other hand is more demanding. Trying to get all the team out in a Sunday is a feat in itself. I have a Facebook group and a Kakao (like what's app) group in which we stay in contact and I share details. Ordering uniforms, collecting subs, paying refs, organizing away trips, contacting opposition teams, setting up training sessions, etc. I suppose I knew what had to be done but didn't really think of the time and effort it would take.
I am hoping this time round, in our second season, it will be easier. I have done some recruiting, I hope to get more dedicated players. We're going to add a sponsor to our shirts, as long as I can get the logo turned into a iron on.
Here we go again Songdo Spurs. Let's get ready for another season!
Recently I spent some time away from school attending a professional development workshop run by the International Baccaulaureate and a new #physed conference called the APPEC conference. Both were held in Hong Kong, a place I had never been before but really found exciting.
The IB workshop was the best professional development I've ever had. It was the workshop I'd been waiting to go to without realising. It came at the right time in my professional life, making me finally realise the direction I wanted to go. I met many new people and made new connections which I hope will last for a long time in my career.
Training as an IB workshop leader was far from my thoughts a couple of years ago. I knew I had the experience and had been asked previously about the possibility of participating in such a course. I think maybe I was afraid of leaving the classroom and being away from teaching children. I was afraid of going in that direction. But the more I thought about wanting to do this workshop, the more I realised that maybe it was the right direction. Not only could I lead a life where I strive to inspire children, I could lead a life where I also have an opportunity to teach and inspire other adults.
Over the last few months I have really been inspired by Andy Vasily. He came to work with our staff last year and again this year and I had the opportunity to see him speak at the APPEC conference as well. As one of the key note speakers he spoke about being inspired to achieve and making a lasting change to your lives and teaching.
I also attended a session by Gavin Fausset, where he focussed on warm up games and keeping students active. He decided to measure how much time he talked vs how much activity time the participants had. He wanted us to be mindful about the time we spend talking in class and to keep it to a minimum. This is one thing I am constantly aware of and trying to improve as a teacher. Make your talking time count and making the students think about what you are saying is important. But I also believe it is important for students to be physically active.
I will be presenting at KORCOS, which will be held at my school. I will be presenting a similar workshop to the one I did at the APPEC conference on Martial arts in physical education which I have blogged about previously. I am also planning on doing a job-a-like at the conference for local physical education teachers.
This article I read, by David B Hawley, on thinking about things we should stop doing, start doing and continue doing caught my eye after going to Gavin's session. It has some interesting points to consider and makes you think about what you could be doing in the classroom. Take some time out during the day and think about what you are doing in your teaching, your career and your life.
What are the important things in your teaching that could make a difference to your students? How can they better learn from your teaching? Is there anything in your teaching that you feel it is time to make better?
Over the last year, since the 'Next Chapter' in MYP, I have been trying my hardest to understand and develop ideas about inquiry in the classroom. I have personally asked many questions about the way I teach and how I can incorporate inquiry into my classes.
I sometimes find it hard to include inquiry into every lesson and feel that lessons have aspects where you have to lead the students towards your objectives. I do not believe classes should be content driven but there are times when important fundamental skills need to be taught or demonstrated for students to understand how to implement their ideas of skill.
'The Power of asking the right questions' by Georgia K Mathis approaches this topic and has helped me think even more about how I can use #inquiry in my classes.
The youtube video below show this in action at Wildwood IB World Magnet School.
How do you include inquiry in the classroom? Do you do it all the time? Is it an important part of the learning in your classes?
I have been writing for nearly five years on and off in the world of twitter, facebook groups, blogging and sharing ideas thoughts with the wider physical education world.