In one of our most recent publications, we’ve highlighted how the features of Meaningful PE can be used as a vision for teaching, which can inform teachers’ decision-making. A vision may bring to mind something far off or ethereal, but we think it can offer something strongly grounded in your own reality. So what is a vision for teaching?
Your teaching vision is what attaches you and your accompanying beliefs to your teaching practice. It can encompass everything from decisions related to how and what you choose to teach, to more broad considerations such as what you hope to see from the schools, communities, and the societies of tomorrow. If you were to refer to your own personal philosophy and how it relates to ‘the bigger picture’ of what you are trying to accomplish, you would likely be referring to your vision for teaching. But why is developing this vision so critical to our practice as physical educators?
Developing a clear vision can help shift your practice towards being more intentional and informed with regard to the decisions that you make every day, while lack of a clear vision may lead to adverse outcomes for students. To illustrate how a vision has consequences for your day-to-day actions, think about the following. You may have attended a professional development workshop last month and are now deciding how to incorporate some of the activities into your lessons. It is through continually referring back to your vision that you are able to assess and effectively incorporate these activities into your programme in a way that best reflects its focus and direction. If you were to simply use the ideas without identifying how they relate to your purposes, the end result may be something that is incoherent to both you and your students – there is nothing that connects the dots. Having a clear vision can serve as a means to navigate the gap between your current practice and intentions and also help you to find ways to fill that gap. It will likely never be completely filled, and so a vision can be sustained over time as you continue to change as a person and professional.
According to Hammerness (1999, 2001), a teacher’s vision may vary across three dimensions. Each of these dimensions can lead us to a question that can help us to learn more about our own respective visions:
- Focus: Is my vision blurry or clearly defined?
- Distance: How far away is my vision from my current practice?
- Range: Is my vision narrow and specific or broad and panoramic?
In our most recent publication, we are by no means suggesting that there is one best vision for physical education. Rather, an MPE-based framework for decision-making has resonated with our beliefs and values about the design and delivery of school-based physical education and has provided us with what we feel is a clear vision that we can aspire to. In the following blog post, we will share how some of the participants in our study also found MPE to be an appropriate vision to guide their professional practice.