What’s in a #tag?

I have enjoyed being ‘away’ from twitter et. al. during the bulk of summer vacation – but as soon as I made it back to civilization I hopped on #pegeeks to find out what I have been missing. Caught a #pechat, some great tweets  and even some #pegeek awards. Then I went to Amazon and d’loaded a bunch of basketball instruction books….

Like many of my #pegeeks pln I wear many hats; P.E. teacher and coach are two prevalent ones. Although related – we all know they are not the same.

I often post re-tweets of sport/coaching information and am conflicted as to whether or not to add the #pegeek tag to it. I know a lot of you coach as well as teach P.E. and may find it useful – but more of you may not and it doesn’t quite fit the tag. As the #pegeeks tag has grown it’s authority on all things P.E. (sport ed. foundational movement skills, physical literacy) has increased – and I worry about cluttering the space with more ‘organized sport/team’ related topics.

On a related note – I am disappointed I haven’t found a  ‘coach’ related #tag to follow that can as efficiently inform & motivate me as #pegeeks does for physical education.

So before I head up to the lake and out of range of wifi I started to think of what a good #tag would be for this situation; but couldn’t come up with one. ‘Coaching’ is such a broad term (life coaches etc…) that identifying one that could target the demographic I am looking for is elusive.

Anyway – thought those in my PLN might have some ideas (you are all pretty smart folks). Is it all right to post ‘organized sport coaching’ stuff under #pegeeks. Is there a #tag I am missing that could fit the bill. Is there a #tag waiting to be created – or do we follow enough tags already.

Please reply if you have any ideas – or just want to say ‘Hi”.

Yours in activity;


Me and My BALL!

Following a conversation on twitter today (about community learning) led me (in the most circuitous fashion) to stepping outside and shooting hoops with my kids. When I called them out they were playing on the Wii – which left me some time to be alone with my ball, the hoop and my thoughts.

In an overarching way – the ball – has brought me to many places I never dreamed possible. No – I didn’t become a professional player (maxed out officially at the college level – but played with peers up to my 40’s) as hoped – but I am currently the athletics/activities coordinator at an international school in Shanghai. This is due in no small part to my relationship with the ball and all that experience invoked.

I remember in University – writing on a guest book at a pseudo sophisticated party “Be The Ball”. At the time I thought it was one of the most profound things I’d ever written. I lived throughout my college years with other young males who had various relationships with the ball. Many of them are still my friends today. The games we played with the ball brought us together; but it is my relationship with the ball itself that continues to shape and affect me.

When I fist began playing basketball (grade 6) I actually quit the game. I couldn’t understand how a zone defense worked (which is probably why to this day I am against playing a zone before Jr. High – I couch it in language about being developmentally inappropriate and not enabling players to learn the intricacies of man to man … but maybe it is just because I failed at it the first time I tried). However, one teacher/coach encouraged me not to give up and I spent that summer (and it seems like almost every evening the rest of my high school experience) with the ball and the hoop hanging from my house.

It was a solitary experience. At times I would be frustrated, excited, proud and just plain tired. Over time it became less about practicing my craft and more about being alone with my thoughts. I ruminated on girls, school, life (and everything else) whilst putting up shot after shot. My shot certainly did improve; but more importantly I developed an identity and a sense of self.

Today both of my kids have picked up the game. They enjoy playing basketball for differing reasons and get different things out of it than I did. Neither of them has the desire yet to spend any significant time playing by themselves – they enjoy the social aspect of the game and the way it can get their old man out of the house to spend time with them. That’s all right with me.

When they finally got off the Wii and came out to join me for some lay-ups, turn around J’s, 3-pointers and put backs I realized that the ball had brought me what is most important to me now. All those hours were certainly worth it.

In The Gym 2

Thoughts on athletics, coaching and teaching P.E.

An interesting debate in the P.E. world has to do with the role of ‘sport’ in a physical education class. Many classes are moving towards a fitness based approach tha de-emphasizes the teaching of and engaging in traditional sport. Some motivators for this shift are the recent prevelance of obesity amongst young people, the idea that ‘sport’ success is only achievable by the few, and that the teaching of sport is not in and of itself ‘health enhancing’.

My take is that sport and exercise are not mutually exclusive. In my lessons s’s complete a circuit during the beginning of every one of my middle school classes; then we work on skill/strategy components of sports we are learning followed by practice activities. Then the game (or a modified version). The circuit changes slightly from week to week, incorporating both sport specific movements (usually cardio based directly applicable to the unit of study) along with general fitness movements (strength/flexibility/cardio). I only change the circuit slightly over time so that I only have to ‘teach’ a little bit in regards to the circuit daily and students therefore spend more time active. S’s use pedometers to track their movement throughout the entire lesson (not just the circuit)- encouraging movement even during direct instructional time.

We have either 70 minute or 90 minute blocks of instruction (but I have also used this strategy in 50 min classes). Students progress from 3-5,000 steps at the beginning of the semester to 6-10,000 by the end. An added bonus is that I am able to incorporate skill testing of some sport specific skills during the circuit (ie: open cone pass and move for the instep pass in soccer / sit-up and set for the volleyball set….); saving ‘play time’.

Sure there has been a shift in focus – but I don’t think it helps to throw sport out entirely (however I must mention I am teaching in an international school setting and there are some social/transitional elements to having sport as a part of the curriculum in this environment). Seems like a baby/bathwater thing….

‘In The Gym’

Thoughts on athletics, coaching and teaching P.E.


“What are the expectations for ‘teacher’ blogs (timeliness – length – content….)? I am fascinated by professional blogs and learn a great deal from them. I also fully buy into the reflective practice component of teacher improvement. One area of concern however is this notion that ‘good teachers blog and if you don’t blog you aren’t a good teacher’. I personally know a number of great teachers who don’t/won’t blog. They share in other ways – professional conversations, assuming mentor or leadership roles in schools etc, but they won’t blog. Let me clarify – they have classroom blogs – communication tools for parents and learning platforms for their students, but they don’t write about their experiences, worries, thoughts about teaching. Should they? Do they need to? In conversations I’ve noted that some of these teachers have great respect for the written word and don’t have the time or energy after being uber teachers to commit to a ‘professional blog’ – which they see as akin to professional writing – is it?

From another perspective in regards to putting a large amount of yourself, your time and effort into blogging is the ‘foreverness’ of the internet; can putting yourself out there professionally cause you as much or more damage as putting yourself out there socially (Facebook etc…)? Opinions in education are sometimes very divergent over key concepts and what is one educator’s treasure is another teacher’s slag heap ( as an aside – this is why it is good my two children have different instructors each year – different strokes for different folks and everyone is bringing something that is unique to them to the table). Is it good practice as an educator to ‘pigeon hole’ yourself on these kinds of issues? In honestly blogging does a teacher run the risk of offending in some way and perhaps limiting their chances of other employment options (particularly of note for international school teachers who change schools semi-frequently).

On the opposite spectrum- does blogging become less authentic and more of a personally crafted resume piece as you put yourself out there for ‘employers/supervisors’ to see? Does this ‘branding’ (if it occurs) take away time from actually ‘teaching’ (or preparing to teach – which is where the bulk of the time is spent anyway). Education has at times been saddled with the ‘show’ class where teachers delivered well thought out/great lessons on the day they were observed – and then went back to their old ways the next period. Is blogging just another form of this false self promotion?

Also some people just aren’t writers – but they are great teachers. Will we think less of them because they don’t blog? Will pressure to blog drive them away from the profession?

What started as a response to a blog post by George Couros The Principal of Change Stories of learning and leading has become my first blog post-and it is about the uncertainty of blogging. Alanis Morrisette would be proud! Alanis Morissette \’Ironic\’