Imagine you were to take 2 minutes to look back on your day of teaching and find one small aspect that you could improve on for tomorrow. Do this each day for the week and you’d have made 5 small improvements.
At the end of the Term you’d be better in 50 small ways and at the end of the year you would be a more effective teacher in 200 different ways. That’s pretty huge. That’s the power of reflection.
Aussie Phys Ed hosted a recent webinar titled 'Teaching PE For The First Time' which was filled with tips and tricks for those starting out in the profession. My little contribution was to expound the virtues of reflection.
It is important to begin here with the mindset that it is OK to make mistakes. Our students learn from their mistakes and so should we. By practising regular reflection, we can be sure that those mistakes are moving us FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD.
What should we reflect on?
Sports day organisation. These days, whether they are swimming carnivals, athletics carnivals or inter-school sport days, involve so many organisational details. Chances are, it will be twelve months before you run the next event too. Some of my most handy improvements have come from reflections written directly after the event. By the next day, the finer details are forgotten. But written down, they become a great cheat sheet to pull out when that time rolls around 1 year later.
Lesson Success/Failure. If you, like me, get to teach multiple classes of the same age level, it means you have multiple opportunities to perfect a lesson. Once you’ve perfected it, don’t lose it! Write down the details and store it - Your future students will benefit!
Strategies for individual students. I’ve had a student who has struggled to engage positively with Phys Ed. I reflected for weeks on failed strategies until finally, Boom! I nailed one lesson with him and thanks to my reflections I have a map of exactly how he learns.
How can we reflect?
Evernote. My favourite organisational tool. Create a notebook called reflections, then write notes from any of your devices. It’s cloud based so you can begin reflecting in your office, add more detail on your iPad, then add an afterthought from your smartphone when it pops into your head on the train home. These reflections are only for you, so write freely!
Blogging. Whether your blog develops a huge following or any audience whatsover is beside the point. When you write with an audience in mind, it clarifies for you which details are worth writing down and passing on. Try using a blog as your reflection tool. There’s weebly wordpress, blogger and millions more.
Recorded conversations with peers. Again, if they are recorded, you are encouraged to put more thought into your reflection and flesh out the most important details. Try a skype or google hangout. Voxer is great for group conversations with like-minded professionals. voxerpe.com is a great resource for finding those groups.
Find out what tips the other Aussie Phys-Ed-ers gave in this comprehensive webinar for first time PE teachers: https://youtu.be/yqftyjIUFLo