Here I am 10 days post APPEC Hong Kong and still pinch myself about what transpired in three days. For everyone reading this blog that goes to conferences you know that feeling of being on cloud nine and not wanting to come down off this. Emotions were running hot across the weekend and the anticipation of both connecting with Twitter Hero's as well as the new-found level of growth knowledge were overwhelming. In this blog post I know that I may not do justice to the overall feeling I took away about APPEC HK but I am hoping that I may convince you to at least put it on your agenda for your future professional development.
I first came across APPEC three years ago when my good buddies Nathan Horne and Andy Vasily were live in action with keynotes. The only visual I can remember was this green tennis court perching on the 7th level of a multi-story high- school. I had never seen anything like it. The picture still stands out in my mind. A whiskery Nathan Horne, cool as a cucumber with his cheeky smile and Hollywood Shades shielding his ever-curious eyes from the hot Hong Kong sun. This had me! I was ready. I wanted to be there on that court, in that sun, with my Hollywood Shades on my face. I hate to wait three years but the call up came.
My first impressions of Hong Kong visiting for the first time were overwhelming. Landing from Australia at 5pm Hong Kong time meant only one thing……. Peak Hour Traffic. I was quite relaxed until Central Station where 500000 people were also moving through the tunnels to either go to the night activities or head home from work. I had no idea what this amount of people looked like. I can only explain it like a mass start in an Ironman swim where you seamlessly float along with the crowd without too much effort but at pace so not to be swallowed in the depths of those following in your footsteps. Central station was nothing compared to the subway to get to Tin Hau station. After a tight squeeze into a seat less train I stood tall with two commuters fixed directly under each armpit. This train was packed at the first stop but every stop Tin Hau it seemed more people hopped onto the train that go off. What an experience though. I took it in my stride and loved my two new armpit inspectors.
As soon as arriving at the conference I was greeted with happy smiles and hugs from those I don’t know. The best thing I ever did career wise was join Twitter and I get so excited when I not only find people that I follow on Twitter at conferences but more so are motivated by the excitement of Twitter Followers finding me and thanking me for the work I do to inspire them. This keeps me going to no end. APPEC is different I feel because so many people fly from different countries to attend so there is a sense of privilege to be in attendance rather that a sense of being sent to the conference. 21st Century Learning is incredible with their planning and nurturing of delegates. Justin was a machine behind the administration and I still scratch my head as to why Avinash wasn’t chaired on and off the transport bus each day. He had my back- Even when I was busy looking at the surrounds of Hong Kong International School he reminded me that it was bus time and that it is a long walk back to Causeway Bay from the school. Each of my 4 sessions at the Conference and Pre-Conference workshop were highly sort after with packed houses each and every time. However, I zeroed in on what was important and try to focus on the individual in each group just as we do when we teach. Personalised experiences with stories that could connect my theories with the content that individual teachers are teaching in their school. Despite being a bumbling mess in my Inquiry Feature Presentation because of the story of change in a boy I taught for many years that lost the use of his lower body as a child we managed to keep everyone in high spirits. I think my workshop highlights were the confirmation from highly regarded researches that my theories were in line with the rich research from around the world and then the energy that came within from the practical workshops in Spikeball and Cricket. These two sessions were huge. Even had my own Oprah moment in Spikeball when I had the pleasure to hand out Spikeball Sets for take home. YOU GET A SPIKEBALL SET, YOU GET A SPIKEBALL SET, YOU GET A SPIKEBALL SET!!!
Top 5 Takeaways
If you are at all interested in what goes down beneath the green tennis courts perching high above the water of Tai Tam Harbour then place APPEC down as a conference to attend in the near future. I have written above my thoughts and gloss about what you may experience but a conference like this gives you as much as you give it. If you want to sit down and not connect you definitely will be a long way from home and not motivated however if you smile and shake a few hands, get involved in activity rather than take notes, applaud Keynoters and dare to dream the APPEC will foster the growth of the Inner demon within you. You deserve it for yourself but more so the students that you teach are egging you on to grow as they know with that comes a Physical Education program that they deserve and dream about. See you next year APPEC, can’t wait to bring some more of my Aussie PhysEd buddies.
CLICK HERE to download the Gamification eBook for the ESPE Conferences
Today I woke up so excited. In fact jumping out of my pants excited. I don't think I have been this excited since lining up with my good mates Azza Gardiner and Nathan Weaver to get into Disneyland this past March. You see for the past couple of months I have been working really hard to find the 'inner-lining' of my Physical Education Classes. I love teaching FMS and I love connect students with Games Sense modules but I felt that I was also letting them down even with high-quality learning experiences. I needed more from myself. Differentiated practise is a passion of mine and I truely work my the understanding that if a child has to make an effort to while attending my class then I have make a greater effort to make sure their individual experiences meet the needs of their expectations. I hear some of you out there laugh and dismiss what I am saying but personalised education 'STICKS' in the memories of children more than playing a game.
Lets step back for a minute so you can understand my thinking around this. I am a gamer from an early age. Many hours have been spent trying to achieve the next level on a game so that I can feel that self empowerment that I have gone better than the time before. I have also had some serious dummy spits. Some even resulting in the need for new computer screens..... ooopppssss. I just get caught up....... Anyway this self empowerment for a brief moment allowed good endorphins to run through my body and made me feel unreal. Fast forward today and I still love games but not as much as my Mario Kart addicted son. I have watched him for many years burn up the track and today is ranked inside the top 20 Mario Kart players in the world. He is unbeatable whenever I try and play him. His addiction to this game made me reflect on the way I teach and that we now live in a generation of device gamers everywhere and anytime. The need to beat the next level or collect just one my cherry or shoot one more bad guy is in nearly every shop, every line, every car, every bus, every household and dinner times and unfortunately it is true but toilets and restrooms as well. The desire to be better is no different to how we need to teach in PE. We want children to get to that next level of their learning, to take their learning and apply it in a meaningful way to make their life better. As they pass 'EACH LEVEL' in Physical Education, they can run faster, jump higher, shoot further, hit more direct and strike with more power. This then allows for them to be more successful in multiple outcomes creating a rush of endorphins that empower students to feel good about their performances. Rather than play a whole grade game, we create small sided experiences and guide them through the game with tasks that create high success even if your team is destroyed on the field. It brings back a classroom teachers favourite, KICKBALL.... Around the world this game is the go to game of many classroom teachers. Now set it up with achievement cards from Striking and Fielding and the classroom teacher without knowing too much about PE can add so much depth to the learning experiences of each child. They in-fact can create multiple layers of success within the task for students while developing their understanding of the essential triggers that make the physical domain of learning tick for children.
My theory exists under this model. (Now I want you to keep in mind that in 2017 I have been employed as an Instructional Coach to increase the education of all teachers through Physical Education). The study that I was conducting this year on behalf of the University of Canberra saw my ability to influence good teaching to become excellent teaching. After laying the foundation of solid teaching practises and understandings of Physical Education I then personalised the experiences of every teacher with some reaching the Gamification mode in which I present here and have spoken about with the EPEW PhysEd Summit. I proved the theory and our results would be published in journals shortly.... (There is so much more that goes into the research but this was just a small part of what we achieved).......... Ok onto my theory-- Here lies the issue, and I am no exception to this observation. Often teachers and me included engage students in awesome Game Sense lessons. We teach them a deep understanding and appreciation of concepts and attach them to meaningful learning experiences. Last year I created a unit called DUDE PERFECT in which I challenged the boundaries of student thinking centred around Target Games. It was exciting but focused on collaborative practices centred around two or three grade objectives or focuses. I wanted to go deeper into personalised learning..... Along comes the middle layer!!!!!!
The middle layer I refer to as the custard in a vanilla slice.... the sweet spot as you would....... I challenged my class to try and play a game within the overall game. For instance- A game of cricket can be quite boring waiting in a fielding position for the ball to come to you so you can stop it and return it. Lets face it you might stand there for 30 minutes before touching the ball once. This, when self-assessed, may result in the child not having a rewarding experience in Physical Education and may, in fact, result in a child withdrawing from the sport. The Gamification model I introduced to teachers and students then allows each child or team to focus on a set of outcomes that they have some control over and no control over. The challenge is to try and achieve those aspects of the game within the game before the game finishes. For example: Your students are playing a game of Volleyball as part of your net and wall games. One of the middle layer focuses requires a team to pass the ball three times, twice in a row within the same point. This then can be ticked off on the game card and the team can then focus on achieving another pre set skill. Upon achievement of all six tasks within the game students can celebrate success regardless of whether they win or lose. In fact from the work that I have done with students testing this I have found that in particular that child or children that often do not touch the ball or engage as much as your classes more skilled students are more engaged in achieving the challenges within the game than actually playing the game. The focus then becomes largely around simple goal setting and collaborative work (in teams) or trial and error practices.
It is truly exciting and adds an element of success orientated Guided Discovery and Inquiry based teaching.
My favourite part came just the other day when I had a group of students that were already past the levels that I had created. I created them a blank template in which they needed to write their own goals. This was such a proud moment to watch.
Anyway legends- I encourage you to download the eBook from the above link and keep an eye on this page. With my summer fast approaching I am going to have some more free time to add so much more depth to these cards to be able to cater for levelled learning and progress students accordingly. After all we are not teaching Grades in Physical Education, we are teaching individuals.
Click here for Shape America Seattle 2015 Recap
Canberra was the landing place for the Achper International Physical Education Conference kicking of 2017 with a little of a week before teachers returned to school. 320 of Australia's finest educators as well as a sprinkling of overseas guests was enough to create an enormous atmosphere in our countries Capital City. I was here this year for the first time as a guest of Cricket Australia as part of their Schools Ambassador Program where I was given the opportunity to present on behalf of CA to energetic teachers ready to confirm confidence and build a data bank of fresh ideas to give growth and life to their personal PhysEd classrooms.
After assisting the Taxi driver with navigations to reach University of Canberra I was greeted with fresh familiar faces both via personal connections with in the past but also through Twitter and Voxer. The Aussie PhysEd family was here: Sean, Mark, Pat, Shannon, Christina, Kristina, Lizzy and Andi. It was also amazing to turn a corner and run head into my bosses for this year Dick and Rohan Telford for whim I have been entrusted with the role of PEPL Coach- (Physical Education Physical Literacy). Our chats are always too brief with so many faces to see and hands to shake. (Sometimes my thoughts are the best way to truely connect with other professionals is 'not' at conferences!) Bernie Holland and Shane Pill, legends our of game, were also conversations I love having but all too frequently. These two have so much experience and passion for our field that sometimes I would love to tap their brains for answers to some of my hardest questions. But again not at conferences so the conversation could flow for days and weeks on end. A quick 15 minutes spent with Mark Collard and Sean De Morton from Playmeo had me buzzing. This was the medicine that kick started my 2017. It was the awakening I needed to come out of Summer Slumber and to kick start the brain into drive for creative passion to be developed for the year ahead. Mark does this to me every time. His passion over 25 years of connecting and building relationships is so infectious and contagious as an educator. There is not excuse not to be an isolated individual in a school with more than 1 person.
My final Day 1 connections were with the team for why I am in Canberra. Wayne and James from Cricket Australia. We had brainstormed the 'What is possible?" in past weeks but this conference was when the keys were passed to me and confidence was given to represent one of the most influential and power brands in Australian Sport. One of the highlights of Day 1 was meeting then attending a coaching session held for Samuel Badree from the West Indies Cricket World Cup Champion Team member who was going to be presenting with us. (The team was awesome)
Planning is always tricky when tapping into PhysEd minds for workshops but trying to harness the thoughts of multiple PE minds is crazy. Getting ideas onto one page has been incredible and finally at 3am the final draft of Day 2 Achper had been developed and a game plan agreed upon. Models had been built and tested, prizes had been packed and scripts written to empower the 20 keen PhysEd Teachers brave enough to put them before 4 individuals described as 'children with sugar highs'. The package for the day consisted on the following:
1. Intro lanes bowling- Landing the ball at a consistent length
2. Target Throw down and variations
3. Scorcher Ball variations
4. Yes, No, Wait- Cricket Communication and varying it with a couple of fielders simulating an actual event
5. Build It city with learning Intentions focusing on Batting and Striking, Bowling and fielding
6. Anywhere Cricket- Piggy backing from Backyard Cricket
7. Modified T20
The explicit nature of this then gave delegates the opportunity to vary the activities according to their knowledge bank. This is the key to engagement and ownership by students in the classroom. Let them drive the lesson. Step back, be a facilitator and watch engagement and confidence exceed your wildest expectations.
So as I sit here in the Canberra Airport capturing what was an unbelievable day I watch as businessmen and businesswomen walk to the connecting planes in their suits, ties and business dresses. My reflection is very similar to that of the story of Stenson, told my Martin and Hugh from The Resilience Project. I think HOW GOOD IS DIS? I am so fortunate to be connected with so many motivating and passionate teachers from all over our great country and throughout the world. When asked what I wanted to do in life when I was 16 I was confident I wanted to be a Physical Education Teacher. Lifes goal ticked off right here and into the future. Living the dream everyday.
Thank you @achpernational for what you do and allowing me to be a part of your conference. Thank you Cricket Australia for allowing me to represent you and your brand in the world of empowering students with self belief and confidence.
What is your name?
What is your Twitter Handle?
What is your website if you have one?
Which University did you attend?
I couldn't get into uni after year 12, as I didn't know what I wanted to do and also I didn't have a good enough VCE score. I studied at TAFE for Two years (Sports Development) then I got into Victoria University Bachelor of Education (Majoring in PE and ICT). I studied for four years.
What is your current school and role?
Newbury Primary School- Health and PE/ICT Coordinator
How long have you been teaching Physical Education?
I've only taught PE and I'm entering my 8th year of teaching. LOVE IT! Best job in the world!!
What is your earliest memory of wanting to teach Physical Education? Like I mentioned above, I didn't know what I wanted to do, all I knew is that I loved playing sports and helping others. I think the turning point was 2nd year of TAFE and I organised a school camp with my fellow classmates for a primary school. I really enjoyed the organisation, hands on approach and working in a team environment. I also was the Youth Coordinator for a number of years with the Ukrainian Youth Association in my early 20’s and again I really enjoyed working with kids.
In your opinion where are we as a Nation with Physical Education?
I believe we are in a good place, however there is always room for improvement. For example, the professional learning that is on offer for all educators is outstanding, however we need to take these opportunities to learn and to further our knowledge to ensure all students receive the highest quality of education. I can't highly recommend for all educators reading this interview now, that networking and professional learning are the key to your teaching success. Just remember it's ok to ask for help - that's one of the big reasons why I feel that I am succeeding and most importantly my students are succeeding.
How would your students describe your teaching style?
Great question! My teaching style is very fair, approachable and so much passion. That I want my students and staff to get hooked onto my programs and my vision. However in saying that, I always remember that all students are different and learn differently. This is one challenge we face and we need to learn how to approach our students. We need to understand the different emotions and feelings our students are going through, therefore at times our approach may be different towards some students.
Tell me about your ‘BEST’ lesson so far? What happened, who was it with, why was it the best?
Best is a broad word I can't pinpoint the ‘best’ lesson, however a unit that I felt that was a huge success was with my Year 5-6 last year. I completed a SEPEP program with my students, where firstly I created a flipped learning video which enabled my students to watch and learn about the SEPEP unit. This gave them a head start of their expectations and what they'll be learning about. This was a student driven unit where all students received different roles and Coordinated a round robin of European Handball. Why was this successful? Their passion, their questioning, their support towards each other, their organisation and most importantly their enjoyment was contagious. One thing that stood out for me from this unit was that the students ran this program and they took charge of their learning and discoveries.
What is one essential item that you can not teaching without? One thing? I'll have to say the iPad. My bible with my assessments, apps, roll marking, photos, videos - don't forget to backup!! Back if I could choose another item it would my whistle.
Who is your inspiration professional and how do you mould your career on their influence?
I can't go past Andy Hair and Jarrod Robison. Both are different, but both are very unique and are outstanding towards their teaching and learning. Especially with the use of ICT, I can't live without ICT and both have steered me into the right direction in using ICT appropriately. Andy has taught me always to question ‘why and how’ will that benefit your students when using ICT.
Without them, I honestly don't think I would be teaching anymore, or wouldn't care about my teaching. I can always ask them both for feedback and receive honest responses. Both always have amazing ideas and will give you the time and day.
If you had an unlimited budget what is your ‘GO TO’ item that you would purchase in a heart-beat?
Storage bins - and heaps and heaps of them!! Also I would purchase scooters for my students and connect this with a Bike Ed program. But then again I would love to purchase high quality heart rate monitors, oh the list could go on.
What is one thing that people do not know about you?
I used to hold a national deadlift record for my weight class, I lifted 180kg at a national competition.
What WORD would you use to describe yourself professionally?
Hong Kong #PhysEd Wonderings
As I prepare to head north in two weeks to visit Hong Kong for the very first-time feelings of excitement and anxiety are starting to set in. This blog post unpacks my emotions for the first time in preparation for the APPEC 2017 conference.
Two years ago I saw many of my idols in the PhysEd word converge upon Hong Kong for an amazing conference and workshops. Rich learning and connections saw conversations grow from twitter characters to mateship. I can’t believe that in 2017 I am very fortunate to be an invited guest of 21st Century Learning to help drive the conference through presentations and workshops.
My excitement grows as it did for Shape Seattle and CAHPERD17 where international Tweetmates become real life superheros right in front of me. The commonality of these Tweetmates is that even though it is the first time we met I have always felt that we go way back. You see Twitter does that to you. It drives you to create a strong bond with a circle of influences from right around the world to draw on when you need inspiration but to also give inspiration to. I consider myself an advocate for professional online learning and count myself very lucky to mix with some truly inspiration educators right around the world.
Hong Kong will be amazing. This two week lead up in terms of Ironman Triathlon is like our taper week. All the hard work has been done but know it is important to freshen up the mind, body and spirit to give a performance that will help create change and challenge the thinking of educators in attendance. My goal is to ‘poke the bear’ and ‘awaken the giant’ within each person. You see I am a numbers man…. My theory is simple…… If I have 30 delegates in the room who all take only one thing away from my session but then go and teach that to their 500 students then systematically I have helped challenge the thinking of 15000 school children who I may never meet. Times this by the 4 sessions I am running throughout the conference and the numbers push closer to 60000 students who will benefit from this one idea.
My excitement is clear to see but my anxiety at times is a wrestle. My thoughts have me wrestling with varying degrees of success….. what if delegates don’t like what I am presenting?..... What if delegates think that my ideas are old ideas?............ What if my stories do not connect with everyone?....... This are usual signs of nervousness and I often remind myself that delegates attend my sessions to seek clarity, guidance and confidence. They want to hear that they are on the right track, they want to hear that their PE program is high performing and they want to hear that their understandings of new age theories is where it should be. This helps! This makes my sessions comfortable to a point where my peers are as excited to be within the session as I am to be leading the session.
My good mate Mark Collard from Playmeo has said multiple times that Connections come before Content. This is so true. How can I share what I am thinking or concepts I am developing and have delegates place trust in myself as an educator if I have not built this trust the moment they start entering the room? Connections must be a priority to boost spirit but to also show teachers that we as educators must lead by example and engage students the exact same way. We must share with students the joy of seeing their faces come through the classroom door and have a desire to start an immediate game or challenge with them. This invites them to be active, to be a risk taker and above all to be confident that they can connect.
APPEC in Hong Kong will see me run a full day workshop on the Friday where I will be unpacking my motivation using Social Media, Assessment strategies using ICT to engage and motivate learners and finally using some secrets within Google Drive to eliminate the paperwork that often sits at the end of our desk and follows us home like a lost puppy. During the conference, my four sessions are title as follows:
Each session will be powerful and effective with concepts you will be able deliver to students the very next day. Each session will be fun and will share with you the ideal that experimental education can actually serve as a platform to engage, inspire and motivate learners of all ages.
My wonderings are simple: How can I be the best educator I can be? How will delegates respond to be theories? And finally, how will I react when I finally come face to face with some of my PhysEd Idols from around the world.
Look out APPEC Andy is on his way.