It has taken a while to get round to this, and I haven’t blogged for some time but felt this is a poignant opportunity to reflect on my new beginning.
I am very happy in my new role; a lecturer of Physical Education and a Teacher Educator. It was a mission that I long-aspired to embark on and, as much as it is full of challenges, I am thoroughly enjoying the job. When I knew that I was making the move from PE to PETE I was anxious, excited, and curious. These emotions lead to lots of questions and lots of reading; I turned to an article written by Tim Fletcher and Ashley Casey in 2012, ‘Trading Places: From Physical Education Teachers to Teacher Educators’ – in hope that this would give me a heads up and answer some of my questions. Within the paper Ashley and Tim highlight the notion of ‘unlearning’ and the tensions felt when having to put previous pedagogy behind in order to learn what works best in the new setting. This is something that resonates with me currently as I adapt to suit my new role.
My PE teaching philosophy is settled, although I’ve tweaked it along the way, it is stable now and it describes my moral compass and my why: “I endeavour to build positive
relationships and to create fun, safe, and autonomy-supportive learning environments, in order to provide meaningful experiences for all in PE”. I’ve now realised that I am no longer looking to change this, but to start to form my philosophy as a teacher educator, I am starting with a blank page, though my existing philosophy will have influence and will be nested within my new philosophy. I am genuinely looking forward to seeing how this develops in the future. But for now there are a few things that I am prioritising: to allow trainee teachers the opportunity to build their own philosophy, to provide a range of pedagogical tools that can be critiqued, amended and applied, and to be an effective mentor that can coach, guide and support trainees on their journey in becoming a teacher.
I do miss working with children and young adults in schools; I am trying to keep my ‘hand in’ by maintaining youth football coaching, making the most of my time when on school visits and ensuring I stay up-to-date with current practice. That said, each day I go to work and talk about PE, Sport, Teaching and Learning with people who are passionate about these topics, this is something I have enjoyed thus far. The feeling I used to get when pupils made progress and overcame challenge now happens when trainees develop confidence and make their own progress in line with our curriculum aims and subsequently QTS.
It has taken some time to get used to having a timetable/schedule that is not as concrete as a school timetable. Having to manage my own diary and having lectures that change days, timings and durations has required flexibility and a new type of organisation. This flexibility is quite refreshing and I have found having more control over managing my workload to be quite beneficial. Even if the workload at points can be quite significant (to say the least). At certain points throughout the year, workload can become quite intense with teaching, marking, school visits alongside self-study, organising conferences, open days and interviews. But the work intensity follows a peaks and troughs pattern, even more so than those that happen in secondary schools and further education.
I am currently experimenting with finding the right amount of modelling (showing trainees how particular pedagogy might look like in practice), opportunities for peer and micro-teaching (students teaching each other followed by reflection) and lectures that unpack teaching, learning and assessment. There is a ‘dual role’ nature in teacher education in which we often wear two hats – the modelling teacher and the critical lecturer; I am still trying to get my head around how often I should wear these hats in lectures/practicals/seminars and I am hoping to have more clarity with practise and experience. Our first year undergraduates enjoy the lectures in which I have modelled ideas and strategies, whereas our PGCE PE trainees have appreciated more time to unpick, critique and apply the discussed methods, perhaps my approach will change depending on the stage of the learner? Perhaps experienced colleagues will point me in the right direction.
Anyway, I didn’t want this to be a heavy read and for me, I just wanted to get something down. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to reflect and ask questions about my new beginning in PETE, and as always – your thoughts and opinions are gratefully appreciated.
Casey, A., & Fletcher, T. (2012). Trading Places: From Physical Education Teacher to Teacher Educator. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 31, 362-380.