The Connected Educator

There was a time when I knew that I was the best health teacher in my school….because I was the ONLY health teacher in my school. And there I am, fresh off the boat from England. No one knows me. I don’t know anyone. Heck, I couldn’t even understand what half of y’all were saying…and so I jumped onto social media….and everything changed.

[The following is a small part of the keynote that Andy Horne and I delivered at the awesome CAHPERD conference in San Diego in February]

Twitter allowed me to get off of my island and to find other passionate educators who were willing to listen to my ideas, convince me that they were worth pursuing, perhaps even suggesting ways in which I could improve them. Before I knew it, I was collaborating with teachers from across the world, developing resources, but also importantly developing friendships too. It’s now impossible for me to visit a conference without meeting educators for the first time no longer with a handshake…or a fist bump…but with a hug typically reserved for people that I have known for a very long time.

Think of social media as the professional development opportunity that never sleeps. 24/7 you can find someone to tweet on twitter, someone to favorite your post on Facebook, or to chat to you in a group on Voxer. You know when you were in college and there was that group of students that were a bit different? The ones that seemed a bit weird? The PE GEEKS if you wish. Well, now I can surround myself with as many of them as I want, brainstorming ideas to my hearts content.

Social media has allowed the world to become a much smaller place and our PE/Health/Dance community to become much cosier. Hey look at CAHPERD itself. Last year there were two Canadians delivering keynotes (Joey Feith and Dr. Dean Kriellaars), this year with myself and Jo Bailey there were two Brits.

We even had three teachers with us who had traveled from Australia to attend the conference – Andy Hair, Arron Gardiner and Nathan Weaver. (Word on the street is that they are hoping to get out to #SHAPENashville next year)

Queen Elizabeth thanks CAHPERD for their acceptance of her commonwealth subjects.

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At a time when it can be hard if you don’t look like the majority, don’t speak the same language as the majority, or live life like the majority, we have the ability with our subject to challenge perceptions and stereotypes in the language that we use, in the way that we set up our classes and how we deliver our materials.

 Being a connected educator, being a part of a global network of teachers has encouraged me to question the activities that I offer in PE, and how I better prepare my students to become active global citizens.

Why is it that my PE curriculum is dominated by North American and European team games and activities? What is it that I am hoping to teach my students when I ask them to participate in PE and can I achieve those same outcomes, or more, through a new sport or activity from another part of the world? If I want to look at passing, receiving, finding an open space to receive a pass or shutting down a player when I’m a defender in flag football…..I can do exactly the same things in Tapu Ae – a great game from New Zealand that I saw Seth Martin and Sarah Gietschier-Hartmanplus I can weave in other educational elements as well.

Technology has made this so easy that I can now have my students collaborating with their peers across the country…and across the world. I’ve run a podcast project for the past two years in which teens from across the world, sometimes in their second language, respond to questions regarding health and the concerns affecting them today. I’ve had voices from Argentina to Australia, from England to Vietnam, from New Zealand to a country in Asia*. It’s pretty powerful when my privileged, well resourced students hear from girls in the Middle East who can’t drive a car because of their gender, and need a male chaperone to take them to women only gym, where the gym staff will be more concerned about what they wear as opposed to how they work out. That’s when jaws drop, and questions are asked.

If one role of education is to prepare our students to become global citizens and to contribute actively to that global community then our profession is stronger when we see our curriculum and educational opportunities through a global lense.

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Free iBook Download: How Social Media Made Me A Better Teacher

Here are the #slowchathealth questions for this week:

A1: How have you benefited from your global connections? #slowchathealth

A2: How have your students benefited from your global connections? #slowchathealth

A3: What global collaboration ideas do you have? Share them here! #slowchathealth

A4: How does your PE/Health program prepare students for global citizenship? #slowchathealth

A5: What idea do have for a health blog post that you could share with the global #slowchathealth audience?

 

*Country unnamed to protect the location of their students.

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