We recently had an article accepted in the journal Professional Development in Education where our focus was on being intentional in accessing and responding to PETE students’ engagement with their learning about meaningful PE. Déirdre and Tim had felt that prior to the study, many of their ideas about students’ engagement with their learning came from casual observations of students’ body language (e.g., smiling, looks of boredom). While this has some value, it comes mainly from our own lopsided interpretations and we felt this did not go far enough to really get a sense of what our students felt about their learning – their aha moments, times of joy, their struggles, confusion and so on. Specifically, we wanted to find out how our students were engaging with the pedagogical principles of LAMPE (described here) by being more intentional in how we accessed and responded to their engagement with their learning about teaching.
Some of the things we did to be more intentional included: frequently using exit slips and other sources of written reflection that contained both open-ended and pointed questions about students’ learning; focusing small and large group discussion on students’ learning about meaningful PE, and; observing students making adaptations to the principles of LAMPE.
One of the interesting outcomes of this research was seeing how we responded to our students’ engagement using aspects of reflective practice. In particular, we came to see how Déirdre and Tim did this differently but with similarly helpful outcomes. For example, Déirde tended to use students’ responses to their engagement with their learning to shape her reflection on-action – that is, how she reflected on lessons after the fact. This informed her planning for subsequent lessons. In contrast, Tim tended to use students’ responses to make decisions in the moment – reflecting in-action (and using the watch mechanism metaphor).
We don’t see much point in advocating for one type of reflection over the other but our work shows that different teachers/teacher educators can benefit equally from using various types of reflection they see as being helpful for their work and for their students’ learning. This allowed us to be more intentional in how we accessed students’ perspectives on their learning, and while we don’t feel we achieved the same extent of student voice in PE done so well by, for example, Eimear Enright and Mary O’Sullivan , we are certainly doing it better than we did before. Importantly, this has allowed us to go back to our own ideas, planning, instruction, and assessment to refine some of the things we have been working on around meaningful PE based on what our students have been telling us. You can access the full text of the article on the PDE website here or the accepted full-text on our Publications page here.