Ross Wallace is a practicing teacher and a Professional Masters of Educational (physical education) PESS graduate, and Dylan Scanlon is a PhD Researcher in PESS; both of us have an interest in enacting curriculum policy (in this case, the wellbeing indicators from the Junior Cycle Framework – see image) and we decided to write this blog together to learn from each other.
While, arguably, we all implicitly include some form of wellbeing in our teaching, we suggest that this needs to become explicit; and we have chosen to use the wellbeing indicators to do so. When speaking to teachers, pre-service teachers and/or teacher educators, we can all agree that hanging the wellbeing indicators poster up in the classroom/physical education hall is not enough. We need to teach the wellbeing indicators but confusion arises when we ask ‘how’ – how do we teach the wellbeing indicators? Do we embed them within the learning experience (within the learning intentions/success criteria) or do we treat them as an add-on where we visit the indicators at the end of the learning experience? Do we implicitly teach the indicators or do we explicitly teach the indicators (i.e., construct a particular learning experience for the indicators)? The exciting thing here is the potentialities of ‘how’.
I (Dylan) contacted Ross to discuss this as Ross has done amazing work on enacting the wellbeing indicators (please see examples of his work here – https://twitter.com/RossWallace_) and this is what attracted me to work with, and learn from, Ross, and share this knowledge with pre-service teachers. When Dylan approached me (Ross), I was delighted and eager to share my experiences, learn from a teacher educator’s perspective and gain access to research associated with meaningful, creative and different experiences in physical education. I took this opportunity to collaborate with Dylan and find new strategies and pedagogies to ‘wow’ our students and improve their overall learning experience. Ross shared a number of teaching episodes which we then discussed by analysing them through different research lenses, i.e., Meaningful experiences in physical education and youth sport‘ and ‘Re-conceptualizing embodied pedagogies in physical education’ and this podcast: ‘Playing with research in health and physical education’. Ross now shares his teaching episode where he outlines how he teaches the wellbeing indicators:
Teaching Episode 1
Before we first introduce the wellbeing indicators to students, we question the class using a ‘pose pause pounce bounce’ approach where we let every student think individually about what a wellbeing indicator might mean to them and how could they demonstrate that indicator during their daily life. We then ‘pounce’ by asking a student at random to share their answers. We then ‘bounce’ to another student who states whether they agree or disagree with the first student’s answer and gives reasons why. Then bounce to third or fourth if necessary. This approach engages all students to think deeply about what each wellbeing indicator stands for and by linking it to their everyday life can motivate them to participate as it makes the content more relevant and meaningful to the students’ interests.
Afterwards, students are divided into groups of 4 or 5. It is explained that all students will participate in a miming role play activity. Each group gets a sheet with a different wellbeing indicator and instructs students to create a scenario about how they could demonstrate their wellbeing indicator during a physical education class. The groups then perform their scenario non-verbally to the whole class and after each group performs their role play task. The other groups observing then vote on which wellbeing indicator they believed was mimed (this also embeds formative peer assessment into the learning experience, i.e., students assessing their own and their peers understanding of the indicators).
By providing students with the opportunity to create and perform a miming scenario can be difficult at the start for most groups as they need to creatively think about what they will do and how they will do it. However, after some time, and prompting with questions and sharing ideas, they really get engaged! You can see the lightbulb moments. The students love thinking about what equipment they could include and going into the equipment room and selecting whatever items they want as a group – giving the students’ choice and ownership over their miming scenario. After the students perform their wellbeing indicator scenario to the whole class, the groups feel a sense of accomplishment as they have done something outside of their comfort zone. At this time I enjoy helping the groups that struggled realise that they have demonstrated ‘resilience’ as at the beginning they didn’t know what do and found it tough but didn’t give up, persisted and kept moving forward to complete the task. I use this example of resilience to help students understand the term and believe that they can overcome any type of challenge which they may come across in life both inside and outside of school. As a physical education department at St. Paul’s Secondary School, Greenhills, Dublin 12, we teach, embed and get students to value the importance of the wellbeing indicators to help them to grow physically, cognitively, mentally and socially.
Lambert (2020, p.170) comments “rest assured I’m not suggesting that PE [physical education]/PETE [physical education teacher education] teachers should become drama teachers – though why not? What I am suggesting…[is that] teachers could easily pay more attention to the role of…building student choice and interests via exploration and imagination…encouraging and building exploration and curiosity around and in movement”. This quote really stood out for me (Dylan) when reading the literature and looking at the Ross’s teaching episode. While we both agree that educating students to understand, perform (in the broadest sense – drama teachers?) and appreciate the importance of the wellbeing indicators could be a successful approach to improve students’ wellbeing. Ross asks, ‘but, as teachers, how do we get our students there?’. Personally, I (Ross) believe that integrating Lambert’s (2020) embodied pedagogies guidelines could be the first step, especially the strategies: think and plan with purpose; stretch way outside PE; consider context seriously; facilitate bonding and making moving pleasurable (please see Table 1 and 4 of Lambert’s paper). Ross provides further steps:
- We need to relate teaching and learning activities to students’ interests and needs. This can include challenges or situations which they may experience in their daily life. Design teaching and learning activities as if you are in the students’ shoes – listen and hear the student voice!
- Develop positive relationships with and amongst students by helping to develop their teamwork and social skills to solve complex problems.
- We need to foster and develop a safe, supportive and challenge learning environment for all learners.
As we commented at the start, the teaching of the wellbeing indicators is exciting as there are so many possibilities and potentialities in how we teach the indicators, particularly when we think about it creatively and differently – echoing Lambert’s comment, ‘why not’? Why not try something new, something different if that ‘something’ makes the wellbeing indicators meaningful and authentic to the students’ lives? There is no wrong or right answer here as long as the wellbeing indicators are being taught in a meaningful, relevant and worthwhile manner for the students. We hope this blog will start a conversation between others in how we can creatively and differently teach the wellbeing indicators. Please share with us through this blog or Twitter how you teach the wellbeing indicators!
Finally, we encourage this creative thinking to occur through dialogue between teachers and teachers, teachers and students, teacher educators and pre-service teachers, teacher educators and practicing teachers, pre-service teachers and practicing teachers, and so on – so let’s learn from each other, as they say, ‘two heads are better than one’!
Feature Image: Wellbeing | Resources | Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT)
Beni, S., Fletcher, T. and Ní Chróinín, D., 2017. Meaningful experiences in physical education and youth sport: A review of the literature. Quest, 69(3), pp.291-312. DOI: 10.1080/00336297.2016.1224192
Lambert, K., 2020. Re-conceptualizing embodied pedagogies in physical education by creating pre-text vignettes to trigger pleasure ‘in’ movement. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 25(2), pp.154-173. DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2019.1700496
Dylan Scanlon is a Postgraduate Researcher in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick. His current research interests include curriculum development and assessment re physical education. You can contact Dylan via email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @DylanScanlon1
Ross Wallace is a Ross Wallace is a practicing teacher and a Professional Masters of Educational (physical education) in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick. You can contact Ross via email email@example.com or follow him on twitter @RossWallace_