In our previous post, we briefly discussed the value of adopting a vision for teaching and how it can serve as a useful tool to guide both professional practice and decision-making. We also touched briefly on the idea of using the features of meaningful PE as a vision to guide our respective practices because it aligned with our individual and collective beliefs, as well as our values for school-based physical education. In this post we will provide a general overview of some of the ways that the participants in one of our most recent studies found MPE to be an appropriate vision.
There were five members of our research team who participated in the study (Déirdre, Steph, Tim, Caitlin and Ciara). Because of that, it is probably not strange to assume that we all came with an initial level of interest and affinity towards meaningful physical education. As a common starting point, a vision of prioritizing meaningful experiences provided us with a clear focus for what we hoped to achieve through our practice. It also provided us the opportunity to incorporate the vision as a reflection tool and ‘measure’ of practice. Caitlin referred to the features of Meaningful PE as a continual filter for making decisions (p. 609). Tim described that in certain instances his practice helped refine his vision and vice-versa, describing how the relationship between vision and practice was not always one way (p. 609).
Some of us also found that the features of Meaningful PE aligned with many aspects of what we were already doing in our respective practices. For some, this led to the realization of a small distance between practice and vision, suggesting the need for small tweaks and adjustments to our current practices. For Stephanie, this led to uncertainties and questions about how exactly this vision could be achieved, as the actions to reflect the vision seemed to be less clear. However, as we continued to fine-tune our practice and become more committed to the vision, the distance between practice and vision gradually became smaller and smaller. As a result, this led some of us to expand the range of our vision to include other contexts as the visions became firmly embedded in who we were and how we identified as educators. For example, for Déirdre, Tim, and Caitlin, their work as teacher educators meant they could see the vision expanding beyond their individual practices in PETE and into schools and communities.
A vision based on Meaningful PE also afforded us the flexibility to emphasize different aspects of the framework to better suit both our immediate teaching contexts and the needs and interests of the students we were teaching. Déirdre explained how enacting this vision allowed her to place boundaries around the things that were important to her teaching (p. 608). For Ciara, this was realized through adjusting the level of competition so that all students would enjoy themselves more (p. 609). Each of these instances demonstrate how we were able to be both intentional and purposeful with the adjustments we made to our practices in ways that reflected the ideals of our individual and collective vision.
We hope that these posts have provided you with more information on the value of establishing a vision for teaching based on your own beliefs. If you are someone who has found that the features of meaningful PE align with your personal views on physical education, we would also like to encourage you to experiment with using this vision as a guide for your practice. We would love to hear any feedback or insights you might have!