BLOG: The New PD: Igniting your Passion with the Power of Social Media
5th Jun 14
by Joey Feith, Founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com
Imagine, for a second, that your passion for teaching physical education is a fire that burns inside of you.
Keeping that fire burning hot is the key to staying innovative, motivated, and effective throughout your teaching career. However, if you're a physical educator like me, you'll know that we are constantly faced with obstacles that will try their very best to smother that fire.
These obstacles can include anything from feeling isolated within your teaching staff, to facing endless layers of red tape when you're trying to be innovative, or even discovering that your physical education program no longer seems to engage your students.
Regardless of where you teach or how long you've been teaching, these obstacles will find their way into your professional life and cause your fire to burn slightly less bright (or maybe even burn out completely).
That being said, there is something that can be done to help keep that fire burning bright throughout your career. That something is professional development.
Over the past four years, I've embarked on a professional development journey to help sharpen my teaching saw. Through my experiences, I've discovered a problem with many of the professional development plans that teachers rely on to continue improving their skills. To better understand this problem, let's look at the typical career professional development timeline below:
In a typical physical education career, your professional development (PD) will usually start off with your formal training at university.
Upon graduating, if you're one of the lucky ones, you'll be hired by a school that believes in professional development. They'll (maybe) host a PD day at your school, where a speaker will come in and help teach your staff some new tricks. If you're really lucky, you may even receive funds to attend the ACHPER International Conference.
My problem with this type of timeline isn't the professional development itself. Rather, it's the gaps in between the professional development opportunities that worries me.
You see, when you graduate from university with your teaching degree, chances are that your fire will be burning hot. However, as you begin your teaching career and face some of the obstacles I mentioned earlier, your fire might start burning down over time. The professional development your school provides you with will add some fuel to your fire (depending on the quality of the PD), but still the gaps remain.
So how can we solve this problem? How can we fill up the gaps between the professional development opportunities in our career timeline?
In my opinion, the answer is Twitter.
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that thousands of physical educators have flocked to (pun intended) to connect, share, and collaborate with each other.
Through short, media-rich posts (called tweets), teachers from around the world are using Twitter to build their own personal learning networks.
Because of Twitter's easy-to-use, mobile nature, physical educators can use the service as a tool to fill up the gaps between professional development opportunities on their career timelines.
By filling up the gaps, we can continue to add fuel to our fire which, in turn, will not only allow us to maintain our fire over time... but also allow it to grow!
If you would like to join the online #physed community and start adding fuel to your fire today, here is a "Twitter 101" walkthrough I created to help you get started.
Thank you for reading and happy teaching!
Joey Feith currently teaches elementary physical education just outside of Montreal, Canada, and is the founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com, an online professional development resource for physical educators. You can connect with him on Twitter via his personal account @joeyfeith or with his website’s account @phys_educator. You can also visit this page to learn more about #PEChat: the bi-monthly Twitter chat on all things physical education that is hosted by ThePhysicalEducator.com.