Brendan Jones works as Head Teacher PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education) in a 7-12 comprehensive government school on the Central Coast of NSW (just north of Sydney).
He has worked in public education his whole career. He likes looking at the big picture, and backward mapping to the minutiae, not the other way round. He dislikes the stereotypes that PE teachers have been attributed (and sometimes perpetuate). Brendan sees HPE (Health and Physical Education) as having an easily acquired holistic role in developing many of the skills modern students need by being working smarter as educators, not necessarily just working harder. He considers himself a DIY educator and an “Edu-communist” - see his blog post about it here http://goo.gl/IJJWp. Currently Brendan’s time is spent on examining bigger picture pedagogical approaches and working out how to bring them down to his practical PE classes.
I’ve evolved as a learner and knowledge consumer. I’ve moved on from pure PE practice and now include bigger picture concepts as part of my learning portfolio.I’m deadset against spoon feeding kids with information. I want them to think. So I’m keen to more clearly understand Inquiry Based Learning, Discovery Based Learning, Problem Based Learning and the Biggs SOLO and the way they would look in a comprehensive High School PE class of mixed ability students.
I’m a member of the worldwide #pegeeks community, but lately I’ve been following closely the transformation of this online learning community from casual enthusiasts to a more organised capitalised venture. Capitalised doesn’t just mean money (which is happening), but the notion that it now has “a value” more than just learning - in personal status, self-promotion and compulsive organisation. The pipeline of information that #pegeeks was has now turned into a torrent - I’m finding it increasingly difficult to monitor the information overload. So I have to impose filters - I don’t follow people as much as I follow “leads” to blogs or websites. That’s where the best stuff happens. More about that later.
Coincidentally I’m witnessing the evolution of the PE class from what I see as traditional practice to a more “modern” practice. For many, modern practice is based around the use of electronic devices and apps. While I see the strategic use of device/apps as an important engagement option for teachers, they are still just a tool, like a stopwatch or trundle wheel are. PE teachers are identifying resource needs and creating them. On reflection, my views on technology have changed over time - from seeing the use of technology as a “cure all” to a more nuanced understanding of how good teaching practice consists of many things, with technology being just one aspect of that. A bad teacher with an iPad is still a bad teacher.
What I like?
Twitter is great. I love how ideas are constantly flowing, exchanging, evolving in that space. What I REALLY like is when the conversation moves from Twitter to a blog where the “Hey! - I’m doing something great!” tweet is unpacked in the sort of detail a PE practitioner can understand. This is where ideas are truly shared, collaborated on in the comments section and the entire body of practice evolves. If you are a #pegeek and reading this, and you don’t have a blog, start one now and share there.
And blogging is warts and all - the successes and the failures, why you did it, what conditions exist that help and hinder...and most importantly - what did the kids get out of it? Not just your opinion...I want to see what they said.
I’ve always taken chances with my teaching. The new things I try can crash and burn and the fallout is restricted to my class - the kids are in on it, because I include them in the plans from the get go. If it doesn’t work, they tell me. My successes I share with my faculty, so they can try them to. I haven’t mentioned the challenge yet. Here it is.
The rubber hits the road when I try to get others on board - namely my faculty. Set piece, one off teaching strategies are different to pedagogical change - especially for those teachers who are resistant to change. This is my challenge - trying to make the practice “pill” not a bitter one to swallow for the people I’m trying to lead.
I always try to leave my class with a question, so here’s one for anyone that reads this - What will it take to move everyday thinking and practice from that of an information consumer and sharer to that a pedagogical creator and enabler?