Wednesday, 12 July 2017

PENZ hui - Past, Present & Future

This week I was blessed to be able to attend the national Health, PE and Outdoor Education conference in Papamoa. You can see my reflections from the 2016 conference here Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. The conference brings together educators from early childhood through to tertiary, with the aim to connect with others and learn from others too. Last year was a little more intense because there were more sessions across the three days, and I didn't present (this year I presented twice, post here). Therefore, I am able to summarise my key reflections into one post from this week (although a little long!).

The proverb for the conference was;
Hapaitia te ara tika pūmau ai te rangatiratanga mō ngā uri whakatipu
Foster the pathway of knowledge to strength, independence and growth for future generations.

This shaped the theme of the conference; Past, Present and Future. The essence of the theme, is to ensure the greatest future for our wharekura and tamariki, we need to reflect on the past and analyse the present.

Three presenters shaped the opening keynote of the three days; Professor Ian Culpan, Cameron Smith, and Helen Tuhoro. We were challenged to think about the shift from humanism to neoliberalism, the need to challenge the norm and to consider what our role as HPE educators are today. Even after all of the other sessions, these presentations were still my favourite.

Ian questioned whether we have really changed from military style, teacher directed teaching? Explored the 'norm' and wondered what we are doing to break down the norm? What stuck with me the most, was his exploration of biopiracy - if one complies to a particular view of normality, then one is rewarded (i.e. skinny, eats vegetables, exercises regularly). I have been left thinking about how to discuss/challenge these normalities with my students, without upsetting anyone. Something I need to think about further...

To further support Ian, Cam questioned what it actually means to be physically educated? He spoke of an 'old school' Junior PE curriculum and I felt waves of guilt rush over me as what he was describing reflected our curriculum in some respect. Moving forward, Cam suggested that students are to learn how to think critically about movement, rather than how to throw and catch a ball. I feel I am still only a beginning teacher, but hope to make some changes next year!

To conclude the keynote, Helen shared her journey creating a new school, in a low socio-economic community. I felt captivated by her story, and found myself relating to her on a small level. She blatantly stated that if students don't like what is happening in the classroom, then they won't come. I have seen this at my school on numerous occasions. It saddens me that there are teachers whom don't care if their students are present in their classes or not, and I fear there are students who don't want to be in my classroom! What can I do about it? Ask the kids. Ask what they do or don't like. Ask why they haven't attended, or have walked out of classes! Helen also quoted Theodore Roosevelt, because for many of her (and my) students, care is the foundation of an effective learning relationship and environment. She summarised by explaining the importance of putting the learner's into the drivers seat. As part of a PCT meeting last term, we discussed this article about learners in the drivers seat (see Cheryl's post reflecting on our discussion here).

I attended two sessions on cross-curricula learning and the inclusion of literacy into the PE curriculum. I have blogged before about the importance of including a variety of literacy strategies into our teaching and learning, but these sessions were great to show some specific examples to use within my subject. Carl's example of gathering letters relay style and then creating words related to a particular theme or idea was a stand out for me. This encouraged group work, key words within a theme and correct spelling. I can see this being a great activity to complete both in a practical sense in the gym and in the classroom. Other resource ideas, which I took away from Ormiston College (Brendan, Jefferson, & Simon - Literacy Coordinator), were a word jumble including conjunctions to create sentences, telephone whispers (groups of 4 to define, draw, define and identify a word), and concept circles.

Next term I will be beginning my first sexuality unit, which I am really excited about. As I have not taught before, I feel nervous about how to effectively teach/facilitate and how to include sooo much into only a short period of time (7 lessons). Lesley-Ann, a Family Planning representative, encouraged us to think critically about a variety of topics within sexuality education. Rather than standard strongly agree to strongly disagree, our continuum was four corners (strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree). The four corners encouraged us to really think about where we placed ourselves, because there was no middle or neutral. I love how in less than an hour, I felt like as a group we had covered so many difficult topics and had really been challenged, highlighting how much I can potentially explore with my 7 lessons. I also liked another alternative to continuums we were exposed to - step forward or step back for agree or disagree (and then asked to put ourselves into the other person's shoes and consider why they might think that way).

Recently I have been tackling some of life's challenges, and have been reflecting on my own resiliency. I have pondered whether I even understand what resilience is, therefore wondered how to include into my curriculum. The final session supported this thinking further. Pip Woodward explored the meaning of resiliency and suggested we cannot teach how to be resilient, but we can teach how to reflect on situations we have been through and what we have learnt from these situations. To grow resilience, we need to focus on our strengths, which can be harder than focusing on our weaknesses. This is something I need to consider for myself personally, as well as within my teaching. A growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset. Thinking about the risks versus the rewards, without taking risks, how can we reap the rewards, as Chris Betcher explores. One resource Pip suggested was Dr Seuss' book Oh, The Places You'll Go! I have found this narrated video, which could be played while the students have the text in front of them and highlight/annotate the text (also another literacy strategy).

Overall, I have taken a lot away from the past three days, and cannot wait to head to Otago for conference next year! 


  1. Awesome reflection, Georgia!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Venini! I knew I recognised the name, but wasn't quite sure where from. Was an awesome conference, and I have lots to reflect on and put into action. Hope you're having a great break :)


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