Often as a teacher I get asked if I’m looking forward to break. I hear other teachers asking each other “How much longer until you can retire?” The professionals I chose as my professional learning network (PLN) embrace a different mindset. Over weekends, throughout summer break, we continue to discuss on Twitter and Voxer about ways we might innovate our teaching. We go to conferences throughout the summer both presenting and attending. Bloggers, podcasters, and creators of free online webinars use extra time to promote physical education. Recently when the lotto got crazy huge the conversation drifted to “What would you do if you won?” Interestingly very few in my PLN wanted to quit, but most spoke of implementing their moonshot idea to further physical education for students across the world.
I’m not speaking of delusional people, but those of us who are very passionate about teaching physical education aren’t in any hurry to retire or go on break! Instead we’re fighting to increase our time with students, and working outside of the school day and school year to make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I love “off time” when I can get caught up on all my “to do” lists, write blog posts, record Google hangouts with Lynn Hefele, work on my websites, spend more time with family and friends, and travel. But I’m not teaching to retire, I’m not counting the days until I’m on break. In my humble opinion, this kind of mindset, which seems to prevail education, is poison.
How does mindset change?
1. Join a professional learning network.
Examine who we’re hanging out with, what we’re reading and with whom we’re listening. I try to surround myself with people who are upbeat, and crazy productive. I frequently wonder if my PLN friends employ small working armies because they accomplish so much. They inspire me to work harder, improve my practice, question the status quo, and take risks by putting myself out there.
2. Set goals.
Again, speaking from personal experience, yes, I teetered on the fence; one side well watered mountains stretching out forever, the opposing side covered with dry barren prairie and green grass just out of reach. The well watered mountains represent challenges, hard work, higher vistas and beautiful satisfaction. The prairie represents the disengagement that happens when we wait for greener pastures. I take responsibility for standing on the fence, lacking zest. I lacked a next step goal, so I coasted on cruise control. Now I set both short-term goals and long-term goals. In the past I primarily set short-term goals but once I accomplished them, I drifted aimlessly until I had determined my next goal. To offset this, I now set more long-term goals, to be accomplished within a year or so. Recently I’ve been talking with some friends who have challenged me, asking “What is your five-year goal?” Another friend asked “What is your moonshot goal?” Those I am still contemplating, and will of course share here, once set.
What steps do you take to stay positively engaged in physical education?
What is your five-year goal?
What is your moonshot goal?
If you’re not already engaged in a PLN here is my website page for Building a Professional Learning Network
Wonder what other PE teachers are saying about goal setting? Check out Joey Feith’s goal to become ideal PE teacher.