“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think”
“We should be thinking about the meaningful stuff, think about how to make them, the children think”
Hello to you and a huge warm welcome to episode 55 of the PE Umbrella Podcast, and as always, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to visit the home of the ONLY Primary and Elementary Physed podcast in the world, dedicated to providing you value and actionable take aways on a weekly basis!
I am absolutely delighted this week to be bringing you another reflection episode 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 of these reflections, you can catch it back in episode 53, as I discussed ‘Simplicity’ in the classroom and challenged myself to ‘Teach like I Tweet’, something that was eye opening and challenging.
During this episode, I discuss the second of the 5 steps…
This episode was as much of me emptying my thoughts and unpicking attributes of my own teaching as it was playing devils advocate and asking questions of you, the listener, to gauge your opinion on the matters that I discuss. I built this reflection around a couple of key questions that allowed me to expand upon and elaborate my concept, sometimes formulating other leading questions for you to think about.
As teachers, do we think enough? Do we sometimes over think things?
As teachers, do we challenge our students to think enough? Is it important?
This episode then, is split into two parts, and as somebody who has struggled to live ‘outside their mind’ myself for a long time now, it was amazing to explore why I have in the past become so mentally burnt out. Did you know that it is estimated that we have to make up to 10,000 trivial decisions every day that requires careful thought from the ‘thinking’ part of our brain. Each decision contributes to exhausting your mental capacity for thinking more and more until you begin running on ‘autopilot’. I explain how I have set up some routines in my life that take away the need to make any ‘trivial’ decision making, leaving room for the things that matter in my practice, the HERE, the NOW, the STUDENTS!
Like me, have you ever planned a lesson in such detail, that when you are actually delivering it, all you can think about is what is coming up and what should be next? It shouldn’t be like this, and not being ‘present’ is doing a disservice to the children that we all teach.
On reflection, I also realised that perhaps I don’t challenge my students to think as often as I should. If we are being completely honest, how often do you provide opportunities for your students to think? Meaningful thinking that is, not trivial stuff that perhaps doesn’t contribute to their greater learning in that lesson. Again, I’m guilty as charged. I have sent children to choose a bib to put on from the side, giving them the opportunity to be mulling over which colour and style to choose ‘pointless thinking’ using up precious bandwidth I could be tapping into for core learning in my lesson. Hughes suggests in his book, that to promote thinking, we need to tap into and stimulate essential emotions:
Surprise & Interest
If we don’t challenge children to ‘think’ they will operate on autopilot and plateau. This habitual instinct is great for learning and completing tasks ‘such as walking’ without having to think about it, but we should see this as the first floor of knowledge in the construction of a skyscraper of learning. When did you last peak the curiosity of your class? Are your routines the same? Try something new this week to stimulate interest in your class and set them on the path to thinking, to add to their own skyscraper of learning.
Would you have ever thought to use a reading book in Physed? I wouldn’t have, but Andy Hair did (check him out in episode 52) and built an entire unit of work around it. That right there is stimulating surprise and interest amongst his class, and deep thinking as a result.
I 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) although as I stated before, I am merely reflecting on my experiences and asking questions of you as ‘The Devils Advocate’. Be sure to tweet me @ryansporting! So what are you waiting for? Click play right here or head on over to iTunes or Stitcher by clicking the buttons below. I’ll see you ‘Under The PE Umbrella’
As always, 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’.