Making your your students want to drink.

IMG_0260Many years ago, as I was embarking on my teaching career, I spent a significant amount of my life emersed in the world of horses. My unexpected arrival into the horse world resulted from meeting my now wife, the proud owner of two horses. The early days were spent mainly sweeping up and mucking out (and observing from a safe distance!), before being promoted to Assistant Groom and then then finally being taught how to ride by my wife.

In a very short period of time, I fell in love with horses; connecting with such an amazing animal is a special experience.

I went to see a demonstration from a man called Monty Roberts (The man who listens to horses) on a wet winters night, sat in a cold barn in the south of England. This experience literally changed my life. A bold statement perhaps, but that night shaped my ethos in education and more broadly with how I approach relationships with humans and animals alike.

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Shifting a culture of attainment to one of progress…in 5 minutes! 

It was another fresh January day, the sun was shining, the temperature close to freezing and students were passing the time during their lunch break. 

As I approached a group of KS 3 students on my lunch time walkabout, they looked as though they could have done with some direction and purpose. As I engaged in conversation with the group, a student reminded me of a chat we had earlier in the year about Parkour. I hope to one day create a Parkour club, but need to ensure I have the capacity to consistently commit to the students each week.

I set down a couple of tokens (used to reward positive behaviours around the school) marking set distances from a low wall that we were standing next to. I demonstrated a simple precision jump  for them from the first level, landing on top of the brick work with control and balance on the balls of my feet. A few students then had a go with varying degrees of success, but there were many that were reluctant to make any attempt. Continue reading

Excellence V Success

In a recent Cabot Learning Federation CPD session on developing a growth mindset, I was introduced to a quote from American Football Coach Joe Paterno (1926-2012).
“There are many people, particularly in sports, who think that success and excellence are the same thing. They are not the same thing. Excellence is something that is lasting and dependable and largely within a person’s control. In contrast, success is perishable and is often outside our control. If you strive for excellence, you will probably be successful eventually. People who put excellence in the first place have the patience to end up with success. An additional burden for the victim of the success mentality is that he is threatened by the success of others and he resents real excellence. In contrast, the person that is fascinated by quality is excited when he sees it in others.” 
– Joe Paterno

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Looking back…

…at posts as far back as 2011, there is evidence of changing the way I teach to promote Growth Mindsets in students (although I may not have specifically used the term back then).

I have been having a look at the archives, in readiness for a CPD session for the PE staff of Academies within the Cabot Learning Federation. I am co-coordinating this termly event as part of my Specialist Leader in Education work.

A range of posts include:

Comfort – Stretch – Panic from December 5th, 2011

A range of thoughts/posts considering Setting in PE from March 2012
I recall writing these early in the morning (5:00am) and early evening (5:00pm), on my phone, whilst turning out and bringing in my horse from the paddock/stable. In particular Part 5, talks about setting by Personal Skills.

This incident from a Waboba / water polo lesson called Man Down, a post from a swimming lesson called I don’t want him in our group and the follow up to both of these. All posted in November / December 2011.

One final post on a tipping point, occurring in November 2011.
On reflection, this behaviour is now an embedded culture; a culture that I am immensely proud of.

@thedanplan – The Assembly

Every term, our assemblies at BCA are strategically planned by the Principal, appropriately themed and then planned and delivered by senior and middle leaders.

As we continue to try and raise the aspirations of the young people who attend BCA, we used the book “Bounce” written by Matthew Syed as a stimulus.

The concept of 10,000 hours of practice isn’t a new one, but it is one that we have used as part of our work to develop growth mindsets among our cohort. The basic message – work hard, achieve more.

We (SLT) were each allocated a famous person mentioned in the book (including Picasso, David Beckham, Tiger Woods, the Williams’ sisters) to talk about. I was given an extra subject – Dan McLaughlin, who I had not heard of before. With a bit of research ( I soon became captivated by his story and started to work up some ideas about how the assembly might work.

Having thought up a few ideas, I decided to try and make contact with Dan, which I managed via Twitter (@thedanplan). Dan agreed to record a Skype chat with some of our students and do a radio interview (with our school radio station) to talk about his plan to become a professional golfer.

I helped to prepare some of our students, who thought up a series of questions for Dan. Unfortunately, I was unable to host the Skype chat, however I was helped out at the last minute by a colleague. I then edited the video, embedded it in a Prezi, took some key themes and then presented it in an assembly.

Enough of the preamble, here it is…

(some of the video embedded in the Prezi appears to take a while to load, so please be patient if you see a blank screen)