This blog post is written by Paul Rosengard, Consultant to the Peaceful Playgrounds Foundation.
Follow Paul at @paulrosengard
Grow 4 It!
Part 5 – the “T” in “Grow 4 It!” stands for, “Tracking Your Plan”
Hello and welcome back to this series on professional growth – for physical educators! If you haven’t already read all 4 parts of “Grow4It!” just scroll down and you’ll see them sequenced.
Over the past 8 weeks we’ve “G”athered resources, human and otherwise; we’ve “4”mulated (formulated) our plan; “I”mplemented it, and now we’re in the process of “T”racking it. So, you’ll see we’re also running out of letters in our Grow4It! acronym; and that can only mean this is the last article in this series! (Whew! Says the author, it must be summer…)
As with previous posts, I’ve asked people in my PLN to weigh in with their best tips and advice. These folks are all terrific and I strongly suggest you follow them on twitter — as I do.
The question I posed was,
“What tips or advice do you have for physical educators who are tracking/monitoring their professional growth plans?”
I think you’ll enjoy their insightful comments. Before you start, please allow me to manage your expectations a wee bit. Not all responses directly answered the question – and that’s OK! They all offer excellent pro-growth tips I didn’t want you to miss.
Here we go!
MacKenzie Mushel-Ellis (@MacKenzieColo) is a Dance Educator who in 2014 was both the 2014 Dance Teacher of the Year for Shape America and Central District TOY. MacKenzie suggested, “Monitoring progress towards your goals is essential whether they are professional or personal. Making note of what is working and/or challenging at regular intervals keeps me focused and MOTIVATED! I have recently been using Evernote to document progress and organize resources that support my goals. This way I can archive and access my reflections from various devices or locations. Setting periodic “check-in” dates/reminders is also helpful. No matter the method of tracking, making a habit of reflecting on your progress is vital to your success.”
Denise Renee Brown (@teachnpe) is a dynamic K-5 physical educator in Arlington VA (and a die-hard Skins fan!). Denise offered these thoughts,“First, attend PD’s. Be a lifelong learner. Walk away with ideas you can implement, tweek, or expand upon. 2nd, reflect often or journal personal growth. Observe peers, video lessons, present at workshops. 3rd, maintain a professional portfolio.”
Nancy Raso Eklund (@NancyEklund) was a past NASPE National Teacher of the Year, a Disney American Teacher, and hails from the great state of Wyoming. Nancy shared, “Once your professional growth plan is in place you often ask, ‘Is the plan working? What do I need to change? What are the resources I need to keep it on track?’ Document your work and collect artifacts and evidence through an e-portfolio. Identify the resources you need, find collaborative support, and most of all continue your action plan by being proactive and sharing your short term successes. “
Tanya R. Freeman (@TanyaRFreeman) is a frequent grant recipient and physical education specialist who teaches children in grades 4-5 in Cinton, North Carolina. Tanya weighed in with, “At the beginning of each school year I reflect on what my strengths and weaknesses are. I create a plan with goals I wish to achieve and share them with my principal, co-workers, students and family. I find sharing this information holds me accountable. I go back and revisit my plan every 2-3 months to see if I’m making progress. If I am, good! If not, I re-evaluate what I’m doing and make necessary changes so I show growth.”
Jennifer Peterson (@OESPhysed) is a K-5 specialist and a Past-President of Iowa-AHPERD. Jennifer responded this way, “I started a PE shared resource folder over a year ago. I saw everyone sharing ideas, several people would ask for the idea (which was awesome) so I thought, hey why not have a spot for ANYONE to access PE activities. The folder has over 600 people – I had no idea it would be so popular. I can’t think of another profession (at least in the teaching field) that has this much passion and connectivity with each other.”
Stephanie Sandino (@smsandino) is a K-6 elementary physical education specialist in Lake Elsinore, CA. Stephanie chimed in with,“For the past year I’ve been using my drives to and from work to (or any long drive for that matter) to engage my mind on PE topics for my own professional growth. I listen to podcasts (e.g., Jorge Rodriguez’s, @PhysedNow, Voxcast). I find these expand my thinking, help me reflect, and give me the courage to experiment with my own classes. PD on the go as I like to call it!”
Allow me to reinforce and embellish our contributors’ thoughts with a few of my own…
- Accomplishments: Your pro-growth plan is also a tool that can be used to document your successes and broadcast your accomplishments. As you note what you’ve done (e.g., courses taken, conferences attended, podcasts listened to, PE chats you participated in, etc.) you are not only collecting experiences that help you become a better teacher, you are accumulating nuggets that make you a valued employee! If you are tracking everything you are doing and when you’re doing it, you are gathering evidence. Share what you’ve learned, how you’re applying it, and subsequent success stories (perhaps with pictures, clippings, video) with your Principal/Headmaster. Tenure, raises, status, exposure, all can be very positive for your career and help motivate you to reach greater heights.
- What is Assessed is Done: I know each of us is assessed by someone – our Principal, our Professor, our mother, so maybe we don’t feel the need to assess ourselves. In the context of a professional growth plan, it’s essential to have periodic check-ins (posted in your calendar) where you monitor your progress (self-assess) towards goals and give yourself a pat on the back – or — a motivating kick a bit lower…
- Track Credential Renewal Activities. I asked my colleagues on twitter if they knew of any tools specific to tracking a physical educator’s professional growth (besides the one I’m familiar with) and received no responses. However, most states requires teachers to develop and track their training and courses as part of periodic credential renewal processes. As many have said above, add your informal professional development experiences to your teacher renewal folder creating a professional development portfolio that provides a more complete picture of your learning experience with some of the suggestions above. When working towards this objective I hope you’ll reflect on the contents of the blog when developing your personal professional development portfolio to track your professional growth.
Wrapping It Up:
We’ve come to the end of our professional growth journey together! We’ve “G”athered resources, “4”mulated a plan, “I”mplemented that plan, and “T”racked our plan’s progress. If you missed any of the previous posts, I hope you’ll give them a read.
Finally, please make a little time to reflect on the key points from this article and past installments too, and apply them to your own professional growth plan.
Until next time, see you @paulrosengard and/or email me your thoughts about this series, firstname.lastname@example.org
An Acronym to Inspire Physical Educators to Grow Professionally
Part 4 – the “I” in “Grow 4 It!” stands for, “Implement Your Plan”
Greetings! I hope by now you’re read all 3 parts of “Grow4It!” If not, just scroll down and catch up. We’ll wait for you to come back…Welcome back! So now you know that everything we’ve done thus far has led us down this personal, professional growth path. We’ve “G”athered resources, human and otherwise; we’ve “4”mulated (formulated) our plan; and now we’re in the process of “I”mplementing it.
I’ve asked people in my PLN to weigh in with their best tips and advice. These folks are all terrific and I strongly suggest you follow them on twitter — as I do.The question I posed was,“What tips or advice do you have for physical educators in the process of implementing their professional growth plans?” I didn’t want to provide a lot of detail that might funnel their responses into a predictable pattern. I think you’ll enjoy their candid and insightful comments.
Here we go!
Martha James-Hassan (@drjameshassan) is an Assistant Professor of Physical Education at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD., and a nationally known presenter. Martha shared the following:
“Employ an “and” strategy. When confronted with a challenge, be it to implement a new curriculum, negotiate for resources, or engage with challenging students, acknowledge the obstacles AND the possibilities. Replace “buts” with ands”. E.g., rather than saying things like, “That’s a good idea, BUT I can’t do that in my school,” shift to, “That’s a good idea, AND to implement it I’ll need _____________ .”
Pam Powers (@psquaredpe) is a former SW District TOY, star innovator and presenter, now with letsmoveschools.org. Pam shared 3 tips:
1. If at first your lesson does not succeed, try again! It could be a poorly constructed lesson, or the wrong lesson for a specific class.
2.If you are constantly revising, editing and changing your overall scope and sequence each year, you are a rockstar!
3. The day you decide to stop learning, attending workshops, reading, networking, this is the day you should decide to stop teaching.”
Jeff Couvy is a full-time physical educator in Southern California working as a K-5 specialist at a Lutheran School in Orange. Jeff responded to the question by saying:
“The best advice I can offer is to not be afraid to confront your weaknesses or biggest challenges. It’s easy to invest energy in developing those areas where we already feel successful and enjoy teaching, but true growth as an educator is committing to develop those areas which are the biggest personal challenges and most intimidating.”
Tim Brusseau (@timbrusseau) is an Asst. Professor and Director of Physical Education Teacher Education at the University of Utah. Tim responded this way:
1. Surround yourself with a great support team, i.e., mentor teachers, peers, others from the profession who can be an ear or help in the good times and tough times when teaching.
2. Be engaged professionally, this helps confirm your ideas and/or stimulates more growth.
3. Be willing to try new idea and concepts. We learn best when we fail so be brave in your efforts.”
Matthew Bassett (@PhysEdApps) is a NBCT and physical educator who teaches K-8th grade students at San Jose Charter Academy in Southern CA. Here’s how Matt answered the question:
“During the early part of my career (Note: Matt has been teaching 15 years) I felt like an island. Going to conferences was tough because I didn’t know a lot of people. Social media has helped me in this department. I’ve found I can talk with other teachers and push myself to learn and grow. Via social media, I can outreach at any time, ask questions, or provide insight into my class. I don’t feel alone anymore. “
Patty Kestell (@pk_lv2teachpe) is a K-5 “PhyEd” specialist at a public school in Wisconsin — and was the National Elementary TOY in 2013. Patty shared these insights:
“Personal reflection should play a huge role when implementing a professional growth plan. In addition to the basic questions such as, ‘What are my strengths? What areas of my teaching do I need to improve? What resources do I need, and what kind of PD should I do to make it happen?’ Also ask yourself, ‘When thinking about assessment and student growth, how will I know my students have learned what they need to know to be physically literate? What can I do to help my students become more self-directed learners?”
Joe McCarthy (@JoeMcCarthy09) is an elementary physical educator and 2012 Minnesota TOY. Joe is a frequent presenter and webinar provider. Joe said:
“When I think of pro growth, I think how can I strive to instill a sense of ‘life-long learning’ with the 700 students I work with everyday at my K-5 school? It’s important that the goals you are working on help to improve the learning needs of students, as that is the main reason we are in this profession. How will your pro growth plan goals support the learning needs of students in your classroom?”
Naomi Hartl (@MissHartl) is a former K-12 physical educator currently serving as SPARK’s Development and Technology Specialist living in Oregon. Naomi shared:
“I believe one of the most important tips is to surround yourself with a small group of passionate and dedicated educators. This group should help you reflect on your growth plan, hold you accountable to your goals, and challenge your ideas of teaching and learning to help push your thinking forward.”
Brett Fuller (@BrettAFuller) is a former secondary physical educator who is the Milwaukee Public Schools Health and Physical Education Curriculum Specialist. Brett responded this way:
“When I think of a pro-growth plan I think of making a systems change/culture change. Making a true systems change, people need to be patient because it usually takes three years for others to truly buy into that change.”
Seth Martin (@smartintahoe) is an elementary physical educator who was the 2010 CA Gov. Council TOY and is currently serving as VP-Elect for CAHPERD. Seth shared this thought:
“I think the biggest piece of advice is go after one aspect you want to improve at a time, and when you go after it, go all the way! Read books, look for PD sessions, and start testing strategies. Fine tune one thing before you go after another part of your pro-growth plan.”
Sarah G-H (@GHsaysRockChalk) is an exemplary middle school physical educator in St. Louis, MO who also happens to be a prolific Twitter contributor. Sarah responded this way:
“At the beginning of each school year I write down 3-4 big goals I want to achieve throughout the year. I keep them in a file and refer to them often. It’s really fun to look at the goals from previous year, too!
Allow me to reinforce and supplement my colleagues’ excellent suggestions with a few of my own:
- Stay Organized: It’s easy to let goals go, or forget to do that quarterly videotape of your teaching, or not register in time for a local conference. So, don’t hold things to memory – write them in your calendar, even if it’s a year or more in advance. Not just on the date they’re due, but give yourself a week’s advance notice that a task is coming up soon.
- Don’t Wait Until You’re Thirsty to go to the Well: If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I say this A LOT. In this context I’m referring to your PLN and maintaining relationships. Once you’ve recruited your pack of mentors and challengers, stay in touch. This is another way your calendar can help you. Enter reminders (ticklers) to (e.g.) outreach to that special Professor a couple times a year. And since you’re implementing a growth plan, you’ll need inspiration from time to time. Who inspires you to want to learn more, do new things, approach challenges with a different perspective? That’s a valuable mentor indeed. Stay in touch with her/him.
- Press Pause, not Stop: Whatever we do in this life, we WILL run into obstacles along the way. Pro growth plans are no different. Plans change and we need to recalibrate. Sometimes we fulfill all the tasks and goals we set for ourselves, sometimes we don’t. We change schools, jobs, districts. It’s a process – one with no outcome or finish line because we’re always growing professionally. So while navigating your personal winding road and its inevitable pitfalls, be good to yourself. If you find you’re off plan for a while, think of it as pressing pause – not stop. It’s a mindset that you’re not giving up or falling too far behind, you’re just taking a short break, and you WILL pick up right where you left off.
Wrapping It Up:
So far you’ve “G”athered resources, and “4”mulated a Plan. Next time we’ll talk about the “T” in “Grow4It” which stands for “T”racking.”
I hope you’ll reflect on the key points from this article and apply them to your own professional growth plan.
See you next time for the T in “T”racking and Part 5 in our Grow4It!! series.
This post brought to you by Peaceful Playgrounds Foundation
Follow Peaceful Playgrounds @recessdoctor
A 4-Part blog on Professional Growth for Physical Educator
Part 3 – the “4” in Grow 4 It! stands for “4mulate a Plan”
Initial Thoughts on Topic:
As I prepared to write this section, I learned there is no shortage of material on the topic of how to create a professional growth plan. Of course, I had my own experiences as a physical education teacher (coach, athletic director) to reflect upon too – 12+ years at K-12 and another 11 at the university level; and as an employer, I wrote evaluations and worked with teammates on their professional growth plans. I felt ready to profess and describe a number of steps in the process. But then I realized, hearing directly from others in various stages of their own professional growth plans might be the most effective way to convey useful information – then I can chime in at the end to summarize and supplement. Now that you know the format, let’s get started.
First, BIG thanks to all the terrific professionals who weighed in on this topic and contributed to the first section below. I encourage you to follow them on Twitter because they have a lot to share.
- Fielding the Question. “How would you suggest PE folks organize or plan their own professional growth evolution?”
First, let’s hear from a 1st year physical educator, Tyler McCune (@mrmccunepe) who teaches at a K-5 school in Illinois:
“I’m really just trying to stay afloat this year, stay on top of my responsibilities. I do have some things I wish I would have known when I started. First is to create a Google drive or drop box and start organizing information by category. I wasn’t aware of the vast amount of info out there and if you try and remember it all it won’t happen. Get organized!”
I also heard from Ira Kleiman (@irakleiman) who is a Headmaster at K-8 school in Michigan. From his administrator’s perspective, Ira said,
“My Deans meet with teachers after observations and mutually decide on goals based on their observation rubric. I ask my Deans, “Where is your teacher on the rubric and what are we doing to help her/him grow professionally?” Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
Now let’s hear from Jamie Sparks (@Jamiesparkscsh) who is KY SHAPE Network Director, KYAHPERD President, and serves in a variety of other leadership roles for his state and on the SPARK Innovation Team.
“In the KY system of teacher effectiveness we defined our measurement by identifying enduring skills based on National PE standards. It’s critical to move toward the collective goal of 50 Million Strong so we have a unified voice in measuring physical literacy. Many administrators have not experienced quality physical education themselves so educating them on physical literacy along with appropriate assessment strategies/outcomes is an equally important part of the process. “
Time to hear from Paul Zientarski (@paulzientarski) who is a retired physical educator from highly awarded Naperville North High School in Illinois, who continues to remain active as a Consultant. Paul told me,
“It’s important to have an open mind. I received valuable information from physiologists, pro athletes, professors, coaches, present and past students and peers (and more). That’s because I never thought I had all the answers. I constantly looked to improve my teaching. I was never afraid to make changes and admit I was wrong. I was 100x better as a teacher in my 40th year than I was in my 1st year when I thought I was smart.”
What does Stephen Jefferies, Professor Emeritus of Central WA University and SHAPE America President 2015 have to say on this topic?
“The most important advice I can share is to actually take the time to create a growth plan. As with all achievements in life, the most important step is probably the first one – the decision to act. I really like this quote, ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
Steve added, “It’s easy to feel isolated teaching by oneself or surrounded by colleagues who don’t share your excitement and motivation for teaching Health and Physical Education. The more you connect with your teaching colleagues at conferences, workshops, and online, the easier it becomes to stay excited about teaching.”
Jorge Rodriguez (@physednow) is the Lead and Key Physical Education Teacher for Houston Independent School District in Texas. Jorge is also a member of the SPARK Innovation Team. Jorge advised,
“When considering a professional growth plan, a teacher should first identify and reflect on personal strengths and weaknesses. Then keep an open mind to the most efficient means of improvement. Technology has democratized professional development to a point where individuals can maximize their own professional growth.”
Andrew Milne (@carmelhealth) is a Health and Physical Education teacher in Illinois who hails originally from London. Here’s what Andrew shared with me on our topic:
“I would argue that openly sharing your goals with those around you, even your students, holds you accountable. It’s easy to let yourself down and not work at your goals. This is less likely if you share your goal, as you don’t want to disappoint those with whom you shared your goals. Finally, I like the idea of ‘one word.’ This is where you choose your word for the year. This word remains in the back of your mind and shapes your behavior throughout the year. My word for 2016 is Provocation. 2015 was Advocacy. 2014 was Resilience.”
Lynn Hefele (@lynnhefele) is a former elementary TOY (who has taught all levels) who teaches physical education in New York State. Lynn weighed in by saying,
“I think the most important thing to do before creating a personal growth plan is to really identify what makes a ‘highly effective’ teacher. I would suggest reading the Danielson Framework. The rest is simple: Set a long term goal, create 3-5 short term goals with a timeline to achieve them, then reflect, revise, reflect, revise, reflect revise!”
Here are some of the key points that resonated with me:
- Prepare by studying up (E.g., Danielson Framework, “Measuring Teacher Effectiveness in Physical Education” by Judy Rink, “20 Indicators of Effective Physical Education Instruction” and many more related pages at www.shapeamerica.org). Making the time to actually create a growth plan is a great start. (Thanks Steve.)
- Take an honest deep dive into your own teaching style and skill sets (Thanks Jorge). Try using my “5 Characteristics of a Great (and Effective) Teacher” from Part 1 of this series to guide you.
- Review your district guidelines and what your Principal, or whoever is evaluating your performance, expects to occur on your professional growth path (Thanks Ira.)
- Work with your district evaluator to educate her/him on SHAPE America Standards and current best practices in the profession. (Thanks Jamie.)
- Gather resources (see Parts 1 and 2 in this series) and organize materials electronically (e.g., Google Drive or Dropbox) or in a filing system by category. (Thanks Tyler.)
- Have an open mind and learn from everyone along the way. (Thanks Paul.) When you find a gem, file it away – right away! And update your C.V. or resume as quickly as possible. It’s easy to fall behind and forget what you’ve done months later.
- Set a long-term goal and several short-term goals with a timeline to achieve them. (Thanks Lynn.) Develop assessment strategies so you can provide evidence of attainment. Remember, it’s important to ensure your goals align with your district and SHAPE America expectations.
- Take one of your goals and make it your big goal (your one word) for the year. (Thanks Andrew.) Consider sharing that goal with others so they can help to hold you accountable.
Finally, I want to say that I found it interesting that no one mentioned a particular technique along the way; the one thing I personally believe is most impactful to improve our teaching…Watch yourself on videotape.
Self assess, then if/when you’re ready, invite a peer or mentor to view a tape with you. Finally, incorporate a tool (e.g., www.SHAPEamerica.org “20 Indicators of Effective Physical Education Instruction”).
Try teach, assess, re-teach, applying what you learned after your initial review. This is a process that can and should be repeated frequently. You can also monitor how active your students are (time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity) and set goals to improve various parameters (e.g., decrease time spent managing and organizing students, increase time students engage in MVPA, etc.).
Wrapping It Up:
So far you’ve “G”athered resources, and “4”mulated a Plan. Next time we’ll talk about the “I” in “Grow4It” which stands for “Implement.” And, if you haven’t already guessed, the “T” stands for “Tracking.” So if you’re wondering why I’ve left out a few important topics and points, it’s likely I’m saving them for future articles.
I hope you’ll reflect on the key points in 4mulating a Plan, and begin working on yours! See you next time for Implement.
I. A Quick Review of Part I
Before we move into the new content in Part 2, let’s review a few key points from Part 1:
Last time we introduced the first word in our Grow4It! acronym, and it was the G for Gather. Because in 2016 we have SO many relevant resources available to us as physical educators, I took the liberty of dividing the G for Gather concept into two parts. The first part, and the topic of our last blog post, examined Gathering “Human Resources” and building your PLN (Professional Learning Network). Do you remember my “Top 5 Characteristics of a Great (and effective) Teacher?” They are:
- Preparation and Organization
- Subject Matter Expertise
- Instructional Expertise
- Relationships with Parents and Students
- Social Media (and Technology) Utilization
In Part 1, we discussed all five and suggested strategies on how to recruit mentors from each category. What was our goal? To help you develop and/or enhance your PLN.
If you haven’t already begun soliciting new members to your Grow4It! team, now is a great time! If the task seems daunting, try breaking it into smaller steps and set a goal to address (e.g.) one concept per month. Start wherever you like — you don’t have to begin at #1 — and set your own pace. Have fun making new professional friends and deepening the relationships you already have.