4. A Year in Review

"What the new years brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year" Vern McLellan

With 2019 done and dusted, I wanted to sit back and reflect on the year and all the events and milestones that took place throughout the journey. The plan was to do this earlier, but I got well and truly lost in the blackhole that exists between the end of the school term, Christmas and New Years Eve.

As I sit here on the 5th of January watching the NFL Wildcard game between the Texans and the Buffaloes, I’ve decided now is the time.

It was at a very similar time last year, after mucking around with it behind the scenes for a while, I created a ‘blog’ on this google site and sent it out into the twittersphere. I had toyed with the idea for some time and finally decided to bite the bullet and send it out. At first, the intention was to try and write a post a week… 1 A WEEK! As the term settled in, I realised that wasn’t going to happen among other commitments, so I scaled it back to at least putting out one a term to share ideas, thoughts or for personal self reflections. If you have some desire to create one, I say go for it. There is absolutely nothing to lose and it can be a great reflective practise that will in turn benefit your teaching practise.

Another, and to me the most rewarding and memorable experience of 2019 from a professional point of view, was presenting at PHASE Asia-Pacific Conference in Hong Kong. I remember seeing on Twitter that Andy Hair was heading over to Hong Kong for a PE conference and naturally checked out the website to see what it was all about. While scrolling through, I noticed a tab saying ‘Apply to Present’. Without a thought, I clicked and filled out an application. I didn’t expect much to come of it but love making the most of these types of opportunities and seeing what comes of it. Fast forward a number of months, I was presenting to about 40 teachers from International schools from across Asia in a Hong Kong International High School. This professional experience was second to none throughout the year, and on a larger scale, my career so far. The energy and enthusiasm of all the attendees, along with their willingness to share and participate, made this conference an absolute highlight and one I will never forget. I have been to other conferences before but there was something really special about this one. It was simply amazing and something I would certainly love to pursue if the stars align once again in 2020 and would encourage anyone else to do the same, should the opportunity present itself.

On further reflection, other highlights came in the form of becoming a ‘Team Leader’ within my school. While this isn’t a huge title or job, it has provided the opportunity for leadership development and has given me greater insight into the inner-workings of the school. It has also helped reaffirm that my main motivation and my ‘why’ for teaching, is to be on the ‘front-line’ so to speak, and be in the gym teaching and forming connections with the students rather than aspiring for higher leadership roles (at this point in time anyway..).

2019 also saw the development of some HeadsUpHPE stickers thanks to Sticker Mule, which have been a huge hit with both students and participants at conferences throughout the year.

I was also fortunate enough to present two sessions at #ACHPERVIC19, a conference held at Monash University in Clayton, Victoria. ACHPER is the Australian Council for Health, Physical Education & Recreation, and holds this 2-day conference annually at the University. This conference again provided the opportunity to not only share what I have been working on within my lessons and within my school, but to also learn from a number of other fantastic educators from around Victoria, Australia and the world. This also led to creating and consolidating connections with other PE teachers from Twitter, those that I’d met through the ACHPER Conference previously and touching base with people that I had completed Uni with.

There was also the development of various HeadsUpHPE resources, including Apps, Visuals, Gifs and the re-imaging others. I finally implemented the ‘Choose a Greeting’ so that it became a norm within a Phys-Ed lesson and continued to challenge my teaching by implementing a ‘thematic approach’ within my lessons with older students, which I found incredibly beneficial and enjoyable. I also tried out a number of awesome ideas that I had learnt at conferences or seen on twitter. Along the way there were definitely lessons and ideas that failed or simply didn’t work, but after a reflection of these, it generally led to improving my practise.

Heading in to 2020, I am looking forward to continuing the development of resources - I have a few that I have worked on in bits and pieces, but am looking forward to sitting down and finalizing these. I am excited to redesign a number of other resources I have created in order to keep them fresh, not only for the students, but for how I use them within my teaching. I am pumped to continue to pursue opportunities within the world. This time last year, when writing my first blog, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have presented internationally 10 months on. Who knows what this year will bring professionally! I also have the unique opportunity of taking sabbatical leave later this year, which will see no teaching take place for Term 4 and an abundance of adventures. In this time there may be conference appearances, random school visits, or the cue in the rack for a few months, who knows. On a personal note, this will allow time to tie the knot with my partner after becoming engaged in 2019 and allow for plenty of travel around the globe together, along with plenty of time up our sleeves to pursue hobbies outside of teaching.

For now though, it’s time to relax, and do some odd jobs here and there. With resource development aside, the first project for 2020 will be on the 28th of January, when I have an hour up my sleeve to run ‘connection’ games with our whole school staff on our curriculum day. I have some fun ideas in mind, but if you read this and have an amazing idea, I am very happy to hear it..

As good as 2019 was, which also included a number of personal achievements, I feel it has set up 2020 to be even bigger and better, both personally and professionally.

...by the time this was finished and posted, the Bills had given up their lead and lost in a ‘next goal wins’ school yard contest, Tom Brady threw an intercept touchdown to close out his year (surely not his career!?) and the Vikings and Saints are locked in another absolute thriller! How good is Wild Card round.