By: Adam Marshall
I know a lot of people (including myself), who it seems, are constantly looking for answers. If you are passionate about anything in life you are always trying to know more and improve in that area. How do I make this recipe better? Why don’t my flowers grow here? Where would be a good place to go hiking this weekend? Often, we’ll consult the internet looking for answers on the subject, not really knowing what we’ll find and many times more confused than ever. Occasionally, we’ll look for books or articles on the matter, possibly requiring a fair investment of time searching for the answer. Of course, reading on the subject is an excellent way to acquire knowledge, but finding answers to specific questions isn’t always easy.
If we put this topic in the context of a physical education teacher, we might hear common questions like: What can I do with large class sizes? What are some good classroom management ideas for PE? How can I teach my class about body composition without talking too much? The actor and humorist Will Rogers had a quote saying, “A man can only learn two ways, one by reading and the other by associating with smarter people.” When I hear the phrase “associating with smarter people” the word that comes to mind is collaboration. Not necessarily with someone I deem smarter than myself, but maybe someone who’s “been there done that”. Some of the biggest ah-ha moments I’ve seen are through the collaboration of teachers discussing common questions and problems. Getting a personalized response and being able to discuss the issue with a peer is such a powerful learning experience.
I look at collaboration opportunities being available in three different areas:
- In your building – When we get into the daily grind it’s possible you may not see your teaching peers much at all over the course of a week. Try and make regular effort to converse with your coworkers about questions, concerns or successes that you may come across. After all, these people most likely know individual students, classes, parents or certain demographics of your area better than anyone.
- Your District, Area or City – Many times a teacher can teach in the same district or city as another teacher and literally never talk to them. I come across this all the time during professional developments, when teachers are meeting for the first time and only live a few miles away. Take the initiative to reach out to others in your area who you think may be an occasional sounding board. Getting a short list of e-mails or phone numbers can be great to fall back on when you are stumped with a problem.
- Nationally or Globally – The most obvious way to find answers at this level is social media. If you aren’t signed up for Facebook or Twitter on a professional level, do it now! There are literally thousands of highly respected physical education professionals around the globe ready to share what works for them in the physed realm. Also, if you get an opportunity to attend a regional or national conference don’t let it slide by. These conferences are a great way to meet other physed teachers and exchange contact information.
Take the opportunity to reach out to your peers and you will surely reap the benefits. It’s possible you are sitting on a gold mine worth of information and don’t even know it.