“If you can’t explain what you’re doing to a six year old, you probably don’t understand it yourself”
Welcome to The PE Umbrella, home to The PE Umbrella Podcast, and as always, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to visit the ONLY Primary and Elementary Physed podcast in the world, dedicated to providing you value and actionable take aways on a weekly basis!
This week in Episode 58, I bring you a pocket rocket of an episode, the fourth instalment in my ‘5 Steps’ series in which I reflect on my own teaching practice in comparison to ‘The Five Steps to a Winning Mindset” by Damian Hughes. Through doing this, I hope to highlight things I am currently doing well, but equally, I hope to pick holes in areas that I can improve upon. In case you missed the first, second and third of these reflections, you can catch part one ‘Simplicity – episode 53’ , part two ‘Thinking – episode 55’ and part three ‘Connection, Attention, Intention – episode 57’ by following the links.
During this episode, I delve right into the fourth step…
This episode was thoroughly enjoyable to record, and although shorter than previous, packs an almighty punch in terms of harsh truths about my teaching and how I can continue to improve. I have spent recent weeks trying to lower my teacher talk time to much success…I am a notorious ‘waffler’ and often over articulate what it is I want to say! I don’t even know quite why I do it if I’m honest. It wasn’t until reading this particular section of the book that I realised it could be having an adverse effect on the children’s learning. Its almost as if when I sometimes explain something, I’m explaining it to myself, to reaffirm my knowledge and understanding. The fact is, the students are my audience, and I need to make them understand. So it is not enough to be shorten my teacher talk time, I must ensure I use Practical Language to make my information stick.
You have probably walked away from many lessons thinking to yourself…
“How did they not understand that?” or “How can they not do it?”
The simple answer lies with you, the teacher, and the fact you (or myself many times) have not explained the task at hand well enough. Learning is a bit like velcro catch (the one with the tennis ball and round glove you can wear). New knowledge is the tennis ball and the glove is all of our existing knowledge and memories. You see, the key to learning is memories and our already existing perceptions of the world. Our aim as teachers, is to present information in a way that sticks to memories and experiences the children already hold. To understand this, we need to build up relationships with our children. The language/words we choose when explaining something can have a profound impact on how much a child understands and therefore learns. Practical language plays on the senses, abstract language is all but meaningless. Take this example of following a cooking recipe…
“Stir the mixture until it is a hearty consistency”
Huh? What? A hearty consistency? Just give me a diagram or tell me how long to stir please. Unless I have any memories or previous knowledge of what a hearty consistency looks like, how am I supposed to know what it is? The author of the book does, but so they should, they’re the expert.
As velcro is a system that works using tiny hooks and loops sticking together, our brains work the same way. It is filled with millions of tiny loops ready to build and stick to. The more ‘hooks’ the information/words we use has, the more chance it has of sticking in the minds of our children.
As always, there is so much more to tell in this tale, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the entire episode for you by typing it all out here! So jump in to The PE Umbrella podcast and listen to the episode by clicking above, or subscribe for FREE on iTunes or Stitcher to listen wherever you are, whenever you choose, at home or on the go!
I for one can’t wait for you to listen to this weeks episode, and I hope you find even the slightest bit of value and logic in what I am saying. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback (whether positive or negative). Be sure to tweet me @thepeumbrella! So what are you waiting for? I’ll see you ‘Under The PE Umbrella’
The PE Umbrella faithful… If you enjoy listening to my weekly episodes be sure to subscribe to The PE Umbrella on iTunes or Stitcher radio by following the links above. It would be amazing if you could rate and review the show there and give me your feedback as it will help me further improve the content and the show that I provide for YOU going forward. Have a truly outstanding week engaging, motivating and inspiring your children, and I’ll catch you next time ‘Under the Umbrella’.