“The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem”
Captain Jack Sparrow
It is wonderful to see an idea grow however, it is even more amazing to see the connections that an idea can create. There are moments in your career that refine and shape your craft. What makes this reflection stand out for me is the ignition of this reflection came from a student who had expressed to me during their first lesson of the year that they had felt disconnected from PE for a very long time and they did not think they could succeed.
After a week or two of encouragement and support, the ground for a healthy teacher student relationship had begun to develop and there were a few signs that this student was going to experience some success in PE very soon. Although I could see things heading in the right direction, I could not have expected nor been prepared for the rapid impact this student was going to have on my teaching.
During the initial couple of weeks, a lot of our discussions and pep talks were around finding a way to leave previous bad experiences with physical activity in the past and appreciating the relevance of the subject. There was no doubt this student was a clever kid so I suggested a few Ted talks for them to review and hopefully see the importance of PE. The intention of providing the Ted talks was to show the student I had time for their concern. In hindsight, doing this was probably not the best way to demonstrate care and compassion but this time I got lucky. By chance, a video must have appeared in the suggested links and this caught the student’s attention – the video was about a GPS artist named Stephen Lund. Stephen used his GPS tracker to plan and map out courses which he would ride to create pictures. This artistic approach to physical activity obviously captured the interest of the student. They came back to school with the clip, very proudly asking me: could we do this in PE?
Before I had even watched the video, I was thinking this is a massive moment. I was chuffed as in the space of 4 weeks, this student had gone from being disengaged in PE to requesting specific learning activities. After watching the video I was amazed by the creative way technology was being used to do something outside of the box. I had no idea what to say, I could see this was a way to modernise and transform my approach to promoting physical activity within our PDHPE course but all I could say was I am so impressed you have shared this with me and I have no idea what to do with this fantastic information but let’s figure something out. I asked the student to come up with a few ideas and marked it as a PE passion project allowing them to select their own team to help develop the concept.
After feeling pretty chuffed for most of the day, I was walking to the staff room and one of my colleagues told me about this GPS artist and as she was describing the video to me I kept a straight face and thought about how powerful the video was. That afternoon after watching the video for the 3rd occasion it was time to share the video with the Aussie PhysEd network and that was when things went to a whole new level.
In the space of 5 days from the time the video was shared, a Facebook page to promote physical fitness and creativity had been developed, individuals and families have attempted their own GPS art creations, I am now considering running a cross-country/art activity that has no course and there has been discussion about creating a national and international virtual cross country event. I think that demonstrates the power of collaboration and what can be achieved when creative minds are linked together to push the existing boundaries. A lot of this is still in the ideas phase but in a few months time I am sure we will see these ideas turn into actions and transformative PE practices.
We are in a time where the sphere of education is being flooded with technology and for some this can be seen as a problem however it is important to realise that most EdTech enthusiasts acknowledge that technology alone will never be the factor that improves the quality of learning, we know that throwing an iPad into a classroom without the presence of a prepared teacher will decrease learning. The ‘X’ factor is the combination of great teachers working together with technology to capture student interest and solidify the understanding of all involved in the learning process. So for these reasons be sure to check out the GPS-Fitness Art facebook page https://goo.gl/lavxR4 and get involved in something new. It is also worth taking some time to watch the Stephen Lund Ted Talk – https://goo.gl/7M12Zp who knows what ideas you may come up with. As always thank you for your time and good luck to anyone leading the way with change I wish you the best.