esports anyone?

performance-3110696_640Yesterday I had a meeting with a representative from the British esports Association in relation to esports competitions within schools.    As with a lot of technology views are rather polarized, and none more polarized than the views on esports.       Either esports is a window into the future and future big business or it is addictive computer gaming and bad for users ability to focus and communicate.

We are already seeing massive investment in esports.    Prize money in relation to esports is seeing continued increase.    It is also worth considering the industries which are linked with esports including the IT industry, news and media, computer games design and development as well as the advertising and marketing industries.    esports is therefore a growing sector, an industry in which an increasing number of jobs are being created which the students we currently teach will need to fill.    But only if we appropriately prepare them.

On the negative side, my view is simply one of balance.    Students who continuously study and worry about their academic ability can take this to an extreme where it results in health issues including stress.   Students wishing to be the top of a given sport may also take this to extremes, training to the point of physically breaking.    esport training equally can be taken to extremes however like sport and academic studying, esports can be part of a balanced lifestyle.     Only by talking with our students and engaging them in relation to esports can we seek to help them achieve an appropriate balance.     One look around a school or a quick listen to playground chatter will tell you that gaming and involvement in basic esports activities is already happening.    In schools we can either choose to ignore this or we can seek to get involved and in doing so can help to provide students guidance and a steer in the right direction.

I am looking forward to exploring how esports might become part of a schools offering, how students might be encouraged to take ownership of it and be provided opportunities to develop leadership skills.   I look forward to seeing how students work together as a team, how they communicate, problem solve, develop critical thinking skills and develop as esports players.   I look forward to developing a community around esports.

Let the games begin……

 

5 a day; A possible framework

apple-256263_640I have enjoyed following Teacher5aday on twitter for a while now and have also got involved with some of the activities such as teacher5adaysketch however it has only been recently I have reflected on what “5 a day” means for me and what it might mean for teachers, those working in education but also for those in other high pressure and challenging jobs.

Firstly I think it is important to be clear on my views of what “5 a day” might mean.    I am looking at 5 things I believe are important to do or include within the average day.   That doesn’t mean all 5 have to happen every day;  life isn’t simple enough to make this a reality.    It is more about looking across the wider period of time, maybe a month or a term, and considering if these 5 things are regularly appearing, if something is too prominent or if something is being missed.    It is about seeking balance and not about creating a simple checklist to tick off each day.   I note that quite often where checklists are involved completing items from the checklist becomes the aim, rather than the checklist simply being an assistive tool to help with organisation of your task.   We need to keep focused on the actual aim, seeking balance in this case so a checklist can just end up detracting from what you are really trying to achieve; so no checklists please.

So my five things:

Fun or relaxation

Am going to start with the need for a little bit of fun or relaxation as in our busy lives this is often the thing that we miss out.   We often prioritise other tasks over having fun and therefore leave ourselves insufficient time to relax or enjoy ourselves, but it is important.   Think about something you enjoy doing or find relaxing such as reading, which works for me, or watching TV or playing with the kids and make sure you are doing it regularly.

Challenge

It is easy to get in a rut and to simple repeat the same tasks and activities week in week out based on habit.    The issue with this is that it leads to boredom and a lack of fulfilment.    Challenge is a key part to life and I therefore think it is important to regularly step outside our comfort zone whether this in learning something new, taking on a project, getting involved with a community group or whatever else you find challenging. There needs to be something that stretches you to go further in your life, and it should be something which you are doing regularly.   For me this is often learning something new, a project or trying to improve my fitness, which leads nicely into my next point.

Physical / Health

It is very easy as we spend more time at our computers and using technology to forget about the physical health side of life.  For those who have followed my posts you will be well aware of my difficulties in this area as I am not the most sporty person you will find.   That said I recognise that mind and body work together, so if I am healthy and fit I am likely to perform better in other areas.    As such it is important to make sure that you engage in regular exercise in a way that suits you whether this may be home exercising, a gym, walking the dog or, as is the case for me, engaging in CouchTo5K.   The main thing is to simply get active.

Purpose

It is all well and good to do things, engaging in exercise, or taking on a new work project or relaxing in the garden reading a book but in all we do we need to ensure we have purpose.    Why are you doing what you are doing?  Where are you hoping to go with things in the future?   The things that you end up doing have to purposeful so for me my physical efforts are about improving my fitness to balance out the time I spend at a computer or in meetings, and to hopefully be a healthier person.   In work I hope to support my school in the use of technology as an enabler, enabling students, teachers and support staff to excel in all they do.

Mindfulness / reflection

I list this last not because it is the last thing to deal with but because I think it has an overarching role to play.   I recently heard Sir Anthony Seldon refer to the need to stop and reflect and this is my final point.   We need to provide ourselves with the opportunity and permission to stop and reflect.  To consider how we feel, our worries and our ambitions; we need to be conscious of ourselves and be mindful.   We also need to stop and look back on our past, our environment, friends, successes and failures, and what we can learn from them.     Only by setting time aside to be mindful and to reflect can we ensure, as Sir Anthony suggested, that we are the best we can be.    This, however, is the one area I find the most difficult and one that I need to continue to work on.

Conclusion

Over the last six months I have had some significant difficulties, which I have considered blogging on however haven’t felt in the correct state of mind or correct place in my life to share, yet.   I have also more recently found myself to be very busy, and at times possible too busy.    As I consider the past six months and my 5 a day, I can see areas where I am making real progress, such as on my fitness but areas which, due to other things have taken a back seat including simply having fun and also setting aside time to reflect.   With this now in mind I have a better idea of the direction I need to take in the months ahead.   This can then help me in planning.

Hopefully the above 5 a day will help me to achieve the balance I believe is so important.

 

Reflections on the Bryanston Edu Summit

Twitter_20190605_092616I recently attended the Bryanston Education Summit, with this being my third visit for what was the third annual education summit.    As has been the case in previous years the weather smiled on the event.   Having now had a little time to reflect I thought I would share my take away’s from the event.

The need for reflection

Sir Anthony Seldon’s keynote began with a breathing exercise where he encouraged all in attendance to get involved, providing all a moment of mindfulness.  This was a bit of a departure from the normal start to a presentation which might highlight the key questions of the session or the key topics.  The purpose of this activity was to highlight the need to stop and reflect.   Sir Anthony also suggested the need for us to stop and ask “am I being the best I can be?”    This message is one I believe strongly in as our fast and frenetic lives often mean we are focussed on getting things done and checking off tasks from our to-do lists, simply moving from one activity to the next.    In education things can get particularly busy as is evidenced by the continued discussions as to workload.   The issue with this is that we don’t have time to reflect on our core values and on what really matters, on being the best we can be.    Without time to reflect we may be very busy however we may be having little impact or may simply be doing the wrong things.  In order to address this we need to provide ourselves both the permission and time to stop and reflect.   I will admit that finding the time isn’t necessarily easy but we need to prioritise and provide ourselves regular opportunities to reflect.  I also think there is value in doing this to model best practice for the students in our care.   Otherwise all they will see is their teachers rushing from task to task, forever busy, and for them this will shape their view of what is normal.

Trust

The session on leadership by Michael Buchanan included mention of trust and the need for leaders to provide their teams the “permission to be themselves”.    I think this needs to permeate through the culture of a successful school to include formal teams such as departments, but also informal teams and all the way through to how teachers lead the students in their care.

In Alex Beard’s session he referred to the need to try and remove things from teachers where they don’t have an impact on teaching and learning going on to suggest that such time might be used to develop technology skills, understanding of cognitive science and subject expertise.   To me this links to trust in that the most obvious thing to remove, or at least the thing which appears most obvious to me, is any task of an administrative nature which is related to accountability.   If we trust teachers we wouldn’t need as much of the paperwork and data to prove that what needs to be done was being done.

Professional Learning

Cath Scutt’s session focussed on the status of the teaching profession.    She quickly identified her concern with the idea that we need to “raise” the status of the profession in that this creates a “deficit” model.    It suggests that there is something wrong or deficient.   This is similar to the concept of Professional Development which has always for me suggested a deficit;   I have therefore always preferred the term “professional learning”.   For me the key issue here is the need for a culture in education similar to the Japanese term Kaizen, or continual improvement, as mentioned by Alex Beard in his presentation.    We should be seeking to improve, or better learn, not because there is a deficiency, but because we have to if we want to be the best we can be and if we want to enable our students to be the best they can be.

Networking

The session focussing on Hattie’s research into visible learning highlighted the importance of teacher self efficacy to student outcomes and also on the need for “teachers who are learners.”   I believe technology can help with both of these issues.   Take for example twitter.   It allows for discussion and sharing of ideas, for us to question our own practices and ideas.    I think as a tool to both self reflect and also to search out new solutions, twitter is excellent.   It also allows us to stretch beyond our own local context and connect with different educational institutions with differing age ranges, focal areas, internal structures and from different parts of the world.    This can only help us both in being more self aware and in being learners as well as teachers.

Conclusion

The third annual Bryanston education summit was an interesting and useful event.  The above only briefly summarises some of the key points of the pages of notes I found myself coming away with.   I suspect as I have more time to reflect other points will likely surface for me.   One area which I haven’t mentioned for example is the impact of technology on student outcomes.   The provided Hattie data indicates 1:1 laptops only have a minor positive impact on student outcomes however, as was suggested in the session, there is a lot of context to be considered in this.  This is something I will likely discuss in a blog post in the near future.     For now I will conclude that my key take away wasn’t a particular leadership approach or curriculum model or learning model.   The key message I heard from sessions was a need to focus on softer aspects of education, on reflecting, on trusting and on working together to ensure the educational experience we provide is the best it can be.

I enjoyed this years event and now hope to be able to put in practice some of what I have learned.   I look forward to next years Bryanston Education Summit.