“Finding clarity is eliminating options and aligning values”

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I have been sitting on this post for sometime as things in my EDU sphere took off towards the end of 2015 due to the fantastic connections I made at that time. Although this was drafted during December 2015 it was not posted until February 2016.

This time last year, before heading out with friends and family to celebrate the beginning of a new year I sat down to finish off a reflective post about my year of teaching. At that time I thought I was mad! However during this year my ‘take a breath’ reflection has been a post I have returned to often and for a variety of reasons; so why not do it again?

I can confidently say I have consistently demonstrated that promoting and developing the physical literacy of my students is my driving focus as a Health and Physical Education teacher. Last year was a year of creating a learning environment to effectively promote physical literacy and this year has been a year of evaluating the success of the innovative approach I have used in my classroom. I must admit the results did not go the way I anticipated. Although the results were positive, the changes did not produce the dramatic difference I was hoping to see in regard to student learning. The most noticeable difference was an improvement in students’ motivation to participate in PDHPE, but that is a longer blog post for later in the year once I have finished the review of my observations and class data.

PlitIMAGE FROM: canadiansportforlife.ca

Throughout the year I continued to make adjustments to my teaching based on the consistent evaluations. Outside of the classroom 2015 has been about creating connections some connections have challenged my view on the role physical activity plays in the learning process and others have supported this view. The connections that have challenged my view have caused me to think deeper and critique my beliefs and for this reason they have lead to the most powerful learning for me. The most important take away has been the realisation that there is a difference between the impact physical activity has on brain health and the impact it has on academic performance. Although they are related to each other it is important to draw a distinction between the two.

I have been told ‘the idea that physical activity can improve academic performance is crap’ but I can’t agree with that. Brain health has to be important to education! If we think about an engine and how a mechanic is able to increase the performance of the engine by adapting the fuel that is used. I guess the ultimate goal of every teacher is to increase the chance of success (performance) of our students so surely we can apply the mechanic’s line of thinking when exploring learning. Exercise is a fuel for the brain and it enhances the function of the brain so it has to benefit learning in some way.

Picture 1

I have been intrigued by the image above as I think the image highlights that we need to nurture all 3 domains of learning to increase our effectiveness as teachers. I feel my biggest mistake so far has been that I often place a focus on one domain. Everything I have experienced during 2015 leads me to my first focus question for 2016 – What is the engine of learning?

My previous thinking has been driven by the idea that the brain is the engine in learning however a lot of recent reading and professional conversations make me think that maybe it is not. It has been a fantastic year and 2016 will be an interesting exploration.