Don’t panic, pandemic PE

Mo Hourani & Luther Rauk

 

Don’t panic, pandemic PE

 

Luther Rauk, from the American International School of Muscat and Mo Hourani, from the American Community School Beirut, have started regular online meetings for Physical Education teachers from around the world to connect, share, and collaborate on best practices in a physical education classroom in the midst of a pandemic. The sessions are titled lightheartedly, ‘Don’t Panic, Pandemic PE’

The pandemic has posed numerous challenges for both students and PE teachers, but one silver lining is a new opportunity for PE teachers to connect and collaborate online. Last March as schools closed their doors, teachers around the world were scrambling to figure out the best ways to reach their students and many felt as if they were novice teachers all over again. In those frantic and uncertain times, Don’t Panic, Pandemic PE was born.

Don’t Panic Pandemic PE is a grassroots endeavor created out of collegial support and common passions. Luther and Mo, one in Oman and the other in Lebanon, reached out to each other to inquire about how each was facing the obstacles of teaching physical education online or in a hybrid learning environment. They soon realized that others could add to and benefit from these types of professional conversations.

Many PE teachers have been attending webinars, taking online courses, listening to podcasts, and reading books and articles in an effort to improve their teaching practice. When teachers find something great, they want to share it with anyone that will listen. Don’t Panic, Pandemic PE creates a platform for teachers from around the globe to network through regularly scheduled Zoom meetings, regardless of their current instruction mode (online, hybrid or traditional model).

 

 

The purpose of these round table discussions is simple really, to create a safe place for PE teachers to share what has worked or not worked for them and their students. Participants offer up strategies to maintain or improve student learning and make recommendations of people to follow on social media, podcasts to listen to, and videos to watch. Perhaps the most important goals of this group are to build connections, encourage, support, and inspire each other.

In the dedicated discussions about online learning in PE, the difficulties that came up in the discussions about operating online physical education classes can be summarized into (1) the monotony of the classes within their limited environmental conditions. Most teachers referred to the educational content the online platforms such as zoom, google meets and the limits that they allow. most of these platforms didn’t adequately convey the value of physical education. (2) Teachers were going through trial-and-error methods applied from resources generated through connections as the Don’t Panic PE Pandemic one. The trial and error is mixed with a lack of expertise in operating online physical education classes. (3) very limited curriculum guidelines that can drive the online physical education settings and allow for teachers to move the students’ learning through the limitations. (4) how to keep students engaged in regular physical activity to improve their physical fitness and mental health while they are navigating the lockdowns.

When the round table discussions targeted hybrid and in-person learning, the main recurring themes were maintaining the highest levels of safety and sharing the established physical distancing protocols, while providing the best opportunities for students to engage with the other students directly and often. Teachers shared many games, strategies, and activities that can be done in a physically distanced setting. Teacher participants have also discussed allowing for optimal student participation and providing the best opportunities for engagement while students transition between online learning and in-person learning in the hybrid classroom, it was common that teachers made a selection of a number of crucial and optimal learning outcomes that can be taught given the reduced contact time hybrid learning provides.

The weekly Tuesday evening sessions are impactful, as they benefit the attendees, their students, and their school communities. PE teachers gain knowledge about new trends in education; implementation strategies for best practices, increase their confidence, improve online efficiency and share innovative approaches. The topics vary week to week from how to do specific lessons with consideration for COVID mitigation guidelines to managing stress and the social-emotional needs of students in a physically disconnected world.

We have a plan decided for April 2021 to be announced at the end of March. Please join these sessions via the zoom link here or connect with Luther raukl@taism.com or Mo mhourani@acs.edu.lb

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

 

 

Mo Hourani is currently the Head of Physical Education and Athletic Director at American Community School Beirut, Lebanon. Mo played Basketball in Beirut, before moving internationally. Mo has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and currently working on EdD in Educational Administration. Mo has also lived in the UAE, Syria, and Jordan prior to recently moving back to Beirut. Mo has a passion for further promoting holistic education, and elevating students’ wellbeing through activities and sports. Mo can be reached at Twitter @HOURANIedu or mhourani@acs.edu.lb

 

 

Luther Rauk is currently a Middle School PE Teacher and coach at The American International School of Muscat, Oman.  Originally from Minnesota, USA, Luther has also lived and taught in Thailand and Bahrain.  Luther spent four years as the Athletic Director at TAISM where he developed a passion for learning how best to help coaches do their important work with kids.  A desire to make real connections with students again led him to return to the PE classroom in 2018.  To connect with Luther please follow him on Facebook or email him at raukl@taism.com.

Globetrottin’ ADs Student Athlete Leadership Conference

Nick DeForest, Assistant Director, Events Office
American International School Vienna

Globetrottin’ ADs Student Athlete Leadership Conference 2021

 

Background and Information

The pandemic has been tough but one silver lining to come out of it is top-notch and easily accessible professional development.. People from all walks of life and all professions are finding ways to improve through webinars, online courses, podcasts, and chats. Like never before, international teachers top the list of those that are finding ways to connect with colleagues around the world.

Even before the pandemic, Matt Fleming (AIS Budapest) and I realized that Athletic Directors and Coaches from International Schools were in need of ways to connect regardless of country, conference, or continent. From this, the  Globetrottin’ ADs podcast was born. When we were sent home to our computers in 2020,  our podcast and online resource library evolved into online conferences which successfully attracted more than one thousand participants.

As we moved into the 2020-2021 school year, we wanted to put more out there for ADs and Coaches but realized that one important stakeholder to our development was missing – the student athletes who we serve. With this came the idea of the online Student-Athlete Leadership Conference.

 

Fast forward to February 12th, 2021 and almost 500 high school students were online live and engaged in presentations given by other high school students from around the world. Over 100 international schools registered for the conference to either join in live or watch the recordings at a later time. Fifteen of those schools had students lead sessions about topics such as competition anxiety, promoting equality, motivation, and the importance of sports. Bookending the student sessions were two amazing keynote speakers; Sebastien Bellin and Greg Dale. Sebastien Bellin, a professional athlete, terrorist attack survivor, and international school student, kicked off the conference talking about his four pillars of life. Later on, the world-renowned sports psychologist from Duke University, Greg Dale, finished the day talking about how to be a leader that others want to follow.

 

Outcomes

The students involved in the conference, either as participants or presenters, came together as a global community of international school students. They conquered fears, they asked questions, they learned new things, they met new people and realized that they are not alone throughout this pandemic. Fabrizio Vergara, a senior from Escola Americana Do Rio De Janeiro realized “that there are many other student-athletes who are going through the same experiences” as he. Fabrizio loved the conference and said it really motivated him. Eduardo Bentes Rengifo, a schoolmate of Fabrizio, thought “it was a great chance to know what the rest of the world thinks” and “how people approached things differently”.

 

Since the conference, there has been a flood of thank you emails and a sharing of experiences like those from Rio De Janeiro. Most of the students feel energized and empowered by the voices and experiences of the presenters, and what they will do with that energy will remain to be seen. However, the work put into this event has the possibility to benefit these students tremendously in a number of ways for years to come. It’s common to hear someone say that as long as I get one nugget of information out of a workshop or presentation then it is worthwhile, however, how often does that one piece of information or idea really change the way to live or even see the world? The students involved may not remember the one or more pieces of information they picked up in each conference session, but the overall aspects of the conference do have the potential to remain with them for the long term. The three long-term effects that I see are; global connections, connections across subject areas, and becoming content creators.

 

Global Connections

Depending on the country and part of the world that you are in, the next like-minded international school might be a flight away. Thankfully social media is connecting the world like never before, but it’s rare for students to see into the minds of other students like them and really hear about the issues that concern them. This event helped students connect and learn about each other regardless of continent, country, or regional conference. It is a global connection like this that may help students formulate ideas for CAS projects or independent (extended?) essays. It may help them ease into transitions to other secondary schools and even open their eyes to the fact that their problems are the same ones many other international school students are struggling with. All of this being done in a relaxed setting where the participants are all there voluntarily and nothing dependent on grades.

 

Connections Across Subject Areas 

It has been scientifically demonstrated time after time that physical exercise is related to higher academic performance and that competing athletically is an outstanding way to teach the skills most needed in the real world. However, athletics are still not viewed as something that is academic. One of the goals of this conference was to embed the topic of athletics and athletic leadership into that academic realm. Presenters performed countless hours of research for their presentations and many of them related their experience in athletics to different subject areas such as units taught in math, science, economics. Physical education class is, of course, directly related to most of the workshop sessions and many of the schools involved are using the recordings in their PE classes. If so many of our students love athletics, then teachers may just want to incorporate more athletic examples into the classroom. University degrees related to athletics have only grown in recent years with more universities offering coaching, sports management, sports marketing, and athletic administration degrees. This might just be the spark one of our students needs to help them find their career path.

 

Content Creators 

For the few students who were presenters, the conference will have a more lasting effect because they became content creators. Students are all content creators in some way as they work on projects and make presentations in their classes. Some take it to the next level by presenting to their whole grade or school but not many make something that is shared outside of their school communities, let alone with people around the world.

 

Becoming someone who creates content for others takes even more preparation and attention to detail. For high school students to have the opportunity to do that not only makes them more prepared for the real world but also makes them become better consumers of content. Knowing the hard work that goes into a finished presentation gives them a better appreciation for the things that they consume.  Perhaps students may even gain a better appreciation for their teachers and coaches.

 

As Lexi Roberts, a junior at the American International School Vienna, worked through her presentation, she realized it was more important to add personal experience into it so that (she) could really relate to the audience.

 

Conclusion

This conference not only provided a unique opportunity for students to talk about their athletic passions and relate them to school and life, but, most importantly, it gave their voices a place to be heard by their peers, their parents, their teachers, and their coaches.

Now that this conference is known by students, teachers, and schools, the hope is that in 2021 more schools will embrace it, promote it, and learn from it.

 

 

What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

Nick DeForest is currently the Assistant Director of the Events Office at AIS Vienna, Austria, and host of the Globetrottin’ ADs Podcast. Originally from Ontario, Canada, Nick has been in Austria since 2000 and is passionate about connecting international school Athletic Directors, Coaches, Teachers, and Students from around the world.

To connect with Nick and learn more please visit www.globetrottinads.com and/or follow him on Twitter @Nick_AISVienna

Leadership in Athletics

Andrew Koene, Physical Education Head of Faculty
British School of Bucharest

Leadership in Athletics

 

When thinking about sports and leaders one thinks about the captain or coach of a team. But the real leader is usually behind the scenes watching their efforts unfold during each game, season and year; the athletic director. Athletic directors hire/mentor coaches, develop the athletic program vision, assess the development of the program, and organize the day-to-day operations. Every decision the athletic director makes falls back on them at the end of the year whether it was a positive or negative outcome. Thus, an athletic director must be a leader able to adapt and balance many aspects that influence the entire school.

 

An athletic director is a dynamic, shifting, and the evolving role of constant decision-making. Based on my experience many athletic directors should reconsider their approach towards leading. Many view the athletic program as a way for them to make a name for themselves by focusing on only winning. They also do not develop a vision or direction for their program. This approach is so detrimental to our field as it only teaches that winning is the reason why our student-athletes should participate in competitive sports. An athletic program should revolve around building lifelong characteristic traits we want to see from our student-athletes and winning should be a by-product of a well-led athletic program.

 

So, what style of leadership should an athletic director adopt? There are several types of leadership styles: transformational, participatory, value-based, situational and servant leadership. The issue I have seen too many times is the adoption of a one-size-fits-all leadership approach. This narrow-minded approach does not allow athletic directors to adapt to the situation. The most effective leadership style that I have implemented and believe athletic directors should become more aware of is situational leadership.

 

A situational leader considers the situation, adapts to the abilities of others, and leads based on those factors. By reflecting and adapting to these factors, athletic directors will have an influence on their school, program, and colleagues. The situational leadership model was developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey. It is a framework for leaders to match their abilities to the needs of the situation. Situational leadership is broken down into four components:

 

  • Directing – This is where leaders tell individuals what to do and how to do it.
  • Coaching – This is where leaders see individuals who have some skills but are not fully proficient. The focus is on helping the individual to improve their skills.
  • Supporting – This is where leaders see individuals who are not fully committed to the end goal and need support to reach that goal.
  • Delegating – This is where leaders only monitor and reaffirm the decisions taken by individuals.

 

As a situational leader, one must determine what must be accomplished (vision) and review the ability and readiness of the team they are leading. Then you decide which component of situational leadership to apply for the individual/situation you are leading.

 

Leading should be about guiding and adapting to the abilities of your situation or team to make sure everyone is working towards a shared common goal. Thus, an athletic director must make decisions based on these circumstances and the current situation. Once one can understand, recognize and adapt to these factors your ability to influence and lead will be impactful.

 

In the end, successful leadership means flexible leadership. Whether you are an athletic director or business executive, you must work hard to understand the people you are leading and the vision of the organization. Situational leadership has allowed me to be more mindful of each situation, individual, and school. As I have reflected on many approaches as an athletic director, situational leadership has rewarded me with more successful experiences than any other approach.

What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

Andrew Koene is the Physical Education Head of Faculty at the British School of Bucharest. He is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, where he received his degree in Exercise Sports Science – Physical Education and School of Health Education. He also has his Master’s in International Education, as well as Educational Leadership, from Framingham State University. He is an experienced international educator and leader who enjoys the opportunity to positively impact an entire school community. Through his previous roles as an Athletic Director and Physical Education Head of Department, he has used his leadership skills to further develop teachers, student-athletes, coaches, athletic programs, and school strategic plans.

Keeping Students Active with Dance

Melanie G. Levenberg, M.Ed.
Physical Education Consultant | Chief PLAY Officer at PL3Y International Inc

 

Keeping Students ACTIVE with DANCE

Dance can be a fun and engaging way to get students active in your Physical Education class.

For many educators, teaching dance is intimidating – there’s a part of us that makes us feel like we’re supposed to have the ‘perfect’ hip hop technique or remember complicated choreography routines in order to be a ‘good’ dance teacher. Sound familiar?

As a PE teacher with no dance training, I was one of those teachers who was intimidated by the thought of teaching dance to my students.  As I read through pages and pages of Right Foot/Left Foot choreography notes for folk and country line dances, I felt overwhelmed by the need to remember all the small details, while feeling deep down that this content wasn’t going to be relevant to my students.

I wasn’t sure exactly what ‘dance’ outcomes were supposed to look like in my classes, but my mind kept flashing images of intricate hip hop routines, larger than life stage leaps and five-thousand-person flash mobs.

When I looked at my PE curriculum documents, however, I did not find outcomes linked to students mastering the “chassé” or the ‘pliés” or even a hint about teaching students how to do that epic head spin move from that YouTube video. Instead, reading the expectations and outcomes reminded me of my responsibility to create opportunities for students to have positive experiences with a range of physical activities, including dance, as they develop competencies and confidence to engage in lifelong active living.

I strongly believe that dance plays an important part of a balanced PE curriculum: dance allows students to experience cultures from around the world, work in groups with others to achieve different types of ‘challenge’ (e.g. creating a dance) and to learn about body movement while being motivated by the power of music!

Most importantly for me – it allows students to develop all aspects of physical literacy: fundamental movement skills, positive social interactions, critical and creative thinking, and the ability to confidently express themselves using their body.

 

Accepting the challenge of teaching a fun and engaging dance unit head on, I looked to one of my favourite PE teaching models for inspiration: Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU).  I asked myself: “If a modified games approach could be used to teach students about different games and sports, why couldn’t a modified dance approach be used to teach students how to bust a move?”

And so, Teaching Dance for Understanding (TDfU) (www.tdfu.net) was born.  TDfU mirrors TGfU in the way it brings a more playful approach to learning dance. The model begins by developing positive mindsets and allowing students to learn foundational dance moves. Once students have experienced success with movement and rhythm, they are better prepared and motivated to learn and refine their skills. The momentum continues as students confidently participate in creative dance activities, and work with others to build and present dance routines.

The lessons within my dance unit followed 6 simple phases:

Dance as a Playful Experience

The goal of this first phase is to develop positive Attitudes towards dance, by modifying some of the more intimidating elements (ie. ‘rules’ of dance.) In order to create a playful setting, the use of right foot/left foot cueing, complex choreography, and the concept of standing in lines to watch (and copy) the teacher are eliminated. The role of the teacher is to actively lead students through a variety of songs, where they learn simple movement patterns and experience success with dance.

Click here to watch an example of a playful dance experience. 

Dance Appreciation

In order to give students a broader understanding of dance, lessons in this phase are designed to allow students to explore the Elements of Dance, the historical Background and cultural meanings of different dance genres, and different types of locomotor and non-locomotor movements. Students are encouraged to share prior knowledge and express personal interests and personal connections to dance, to guide their learning.

Developing Connections.

 

 

The purpose of this phase is to foster Connections and ensure that students are prepared to apply their thoughts and ideas during creative movement activities in the next phase (Phase 4). Through listening, self-reflection and large group movement activities, students learn to connect to music rhythms and styles, to themselves (thoughts, ideas, opinions, goals), to others, and to prior learning.

Click to watch a fun activity you can do with your students to develop rhythm, teamwork, and group connection.

Creative Exploration

Traditionally used in the first lessons of dance units, Creative Exploration is shifted to Phase 4 in the TDfU model, as it requires students to apply multiple types of understandings and skills in order to confidently express themselves through movement. Building on the A-B-Cs (Attitude – Background – Connection) of the first three phases of TDfU, students explore various ways of expressing their thoughts, opinions, and ideas using the rhythms and styles of different genres of music. In these lessons, teachers are encouraged to provide keywords and ideas from the Elements of Dance to spark creative movements (e.g. different energies: ‘melt’, ‘pop’, ‘burst’ etc.).

Skill Refinement

In this phase, students work in groups to create a sequence of movements that demonstrate their understanding of the curriculum expectations/outcomes that are being assessed (which will vary by district/state/country).  Students practice and repeat their dance, receive feedback from their peers and review videos of themselves performing the dance in order to refine the technique and group coordination needed to perform a synchronized group dance.

Dance Performance

As a culminating activity, students perform their dance routine as a group, using the Elements of Dance to communicate messages, thoughts and stories. In this phase, students apply strategies to learn and remember choreography. Cross-curricular learning opportunities include the incorporation of coordinated costumes or the integration of multi-media to enhance the artistic component of the presentations.

Click here to watch a co-created Dance Performance.

Overall, the success of this approach has been echoed by fellow educators throughout the world: from Australia to Canada, Korea to Ireland, teachers are seeing how a play-based approach to implementing dance in PE fuels motivation and maximizes participation.

 

10 Tips on Using the TDfU Model in your PE Program

1-    Start with the goal of making dance fun, engaging, and ‘do-able’ by students.

2-    Flex the “rules” of dance to maximize student success; let students move around the space and don’t worry about right foot or left foot.

3-    Keep the students MOVING as they are learning to dance; avoid the stand-and-watch syndrome.

4-    Play MUSIC while students are learning the dance moves and sequences! (Always teach on the beat)

5-    Make sure you address the A(ttitude)-B(ackground)-C(onnection)s before you ask students to do creative dance.

6-    Teach dance routines; learning and remembering sequences is an important part of learning how to dance

7-    Keep things simple with repetitive and predictable sequences that match the music sections.

8-    Integrate technology as part of the feedback process; students love watching themselves perform their dance routines to identify where they can improve.

9-    Offer opportunities for artistic elements and multi-media integration into final dance performances.

10-  Integrate Core Competencies/Living Skills throughout the dance unit. Remember, it’s not about how well a student can perform the detailed techniques of the dance moves, but rather how the dance creation experience allows them to learn about themselves, work with others and demonstrate their understanding of key concepts from your PE curriculum.

 

 

References

Teaching Dance for Understanding
How Dance Develops Physical Literacy

Reconceptualizing Dance in Physical Education: Teaching Dance for Understanding (JOHPERD 2020)

 

 

What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Melanie G. Levenberg, M.Ed. is a Physical Education Consultant and the Chief PLAY Officer at PL3Y International Inc – an international training and certification company that provides professional development workshops, pre-choreographed resources, and in-school residencies on DANCEPL3Y ( www.dancepl3y.com)  – the world’s leading physical literacy and dance program.

Get access to free video resources at www.tdfu.net and check out www.pl3yinc.com

Follow Melanie on Twitter:

@tdfu_ed

@melanie_pl3y

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