The power of instilling a grow mindset in young people
For those of you familiar with my work and vision in physical education, you know that I am a big advocate of allowing for student voice and ownership in my program. I bring as much integrated learning as possible into my PE program by collaborating with classroom teachers and ensuring that I am aware of the student learning outcomes in all subject areas. This allows me to plan accordingly and to create a learning environment in PE that is very much transdisciplinary in nature. Creating authentic and genuine links to what is happening in the classroom is a must if we are to address the needs of the whole child.
I am super pumped about a new unit in grade 4 that I am embarking on in PE. The first cool thing is that it fully integrates with learning that it happening in the grade 4 classroom unit of inquiry. I have collaborated with the grade 4 classroom teachers and have been at all of their planning meetings to discuss PE's role in this unit. The driving theme or central idea of this unit is as follows:
The unit is entitled "Who We Are" and is aimed at learning about the self and what it means to be human. From day one, the students and teachers in grade 4 will be looking at the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. There will be several guest speakers who come in during the unit to discuss experiences that they have had in regards to skills and abilities that they have developed in life.
In PE, I told my own story about my experience playing high level football as a quarterback and a punter. I told them the obstacles I had to overcome, the frustrations that I had experienced while trying to improve upon my level of skill in the positions that I played. I told them about when I was 10 years old and trying to teach myself how to punt a football. I had nobody to teach me and spent hundreds and hundreds of hours practicing on my own. I was able to show them a record that I still hold in punting in university football. I rank 3rd all-time in career punting yardage back in my home province of Ontario, Canada. It was not easy to achieve this record and lots of hard work and endless hours went into it. It is important for the students to understand that practice and the right attitude can help them achieve success. It's not about becoming a professional, it's more about developing the right mindset and believing in themselves. That is the ultimate goal that I have for them during this 7-week unit.
I am allowing the students to select any goal that they want in PE. It cannot be something that they are already good at. They must be a total beginner or have limited experience in whatever skill that they want to work on. For the rest of the unit, all the students will work at becoming the best that they can be at their chosen skill. I will serve as a coach and facilitator offering them advice and to help guide them along.
There are 7 big concepts (see below) that the classroom is working on and that I will also be breaking down in PE as we progress through the unit. All of our discussions will be based around these concepts and getting the students to understand what success looks like. The driving questions that they will have to answer are simple, yet quite complex in nature. How will you know that you have made progress toward your goal? How will you know that you have improved? The students will identify their own success criteria that relates specifically to the skill that they are trying to improve upon. I have a feeling that this is going to be a very rewarding unit for the students and for me to teach. I'll be blogging about it as we move forward through the 7 weeks.