Tuesday 24 October 2017

MODEL: It’s important to do so!

Brent Bradford: Concordia University of Edmonton
Clive Hickson: University of Alberta
Ashleigh Evaniew: Edmonton Public School Board

Each experience influences in some degree the objective conditions under which further experiences are had. 
(Dewey, 1938)

Arguably, teachers, with their knowledge, skills, and attributes, are the most important building blocks of the educational system (Yilmaz, 2011). As physical education teachers, due to the role and presence we have in the lives of our students, we have a unique opportunity to positively impact them every day. It is, therefore, important that we employ every skill and resource at our disposal to cultivate a learning environment that supports the development of physically active and healthy lifestyles. While issues such as planning, lesson delivery, and the evaluation of learning are constant themes of consideration, an area that is often overlooked, and has been identified as understudied, is the importance of ‘teacher as a role model’ in physical education.

It is essential that we understand that role modeling has a potentially powerful influence in promoting physically active and healthy lifestyles. Role modeling can exist in many ways; it can include actions, language, behaviours, etc. So, knowing that our actions, words, and choices can be under a student’s microscope of thinking…What can physical education teachers do to be positive role models?

Whether they like it or not, teachers of physical education must view themselves as role models. 
(Dean, Adams, & Comeau, 2005)

We believe that teachers need to be a MODEL

Students will advocate either for or against physical education, and that outcome is largely contingent on the caring education that physical education teachers provide. 
(Rikard, 2009)

Message that Students are Important Partners in the Learning Experience. Teachers can show students that they truly care about their learning by engaging with them and in the learning process. Fostering interpersonal relationships with students based on a caring perspective requires teachers to interact with students, to develop mutual trust and respect, and to attend to student needs (Rikard, 2009). A caring attitude toward students and their learning is a strategy that has been found to build rapport between teachers and learners (Bradford, Stanec, & Hickson, 2012). Such rapport can be most beneficial, as Rikard (2009) contended that ‘care’ has a definite impact on student learning. 

Outcome Attainment. Through innovative and appropriate teaching approaches, teachers can offer breadth and variety in quality physical education programs. By attending to learning needs, the use of different resources can assist in the learning process. For example, carefully chosen online materials, task cards, music, equipment, etc. can be employed to promote physical literacy. Inviting special guests, such as physical education consultants to help introduce new activities, or senior citizens to help teach dance, can add to the value and experiences in the learning environment. Also, when we are well-planned and organized with long-, mid-, and short-term plans, and assessment strategies in place, it affords us with the flexibility and time to create, modify, and reflect on our students’ overall learning.

Dress Appropriately for the Learning Environment. What a person chooses to wear is a powerful communicator (Damhorst, Miller-Spillman, & Michelman, 2005). First impressions, which lead to firmly held perceptions by students, are affected by a combination of teacher characteristics including teacher clothing (Workman & Freeburg, 2009). For example, the clothing being worn by a teacher in physical education must fit that of a person who is prepared to engage in physical activity, or students may perceive the teacher as uncaring toward the subject area, not prepared to demonstrate the skills, and/or disinterested in engaging in physical activities (Bradford, 2015; Bradford & Hickson, 2010). In physical education, therefore, teacher clothing that is associated with physical activity should be recognized as a teacher’s choice of attire.

Engage in the Learning Process. An underlining basis for modeling is that it becomes easier to perform a motor task more proficiently after watching the task being modeled (Vogler, 2003). The use of demonstration is a large part of presenting information clearly to learners and, in physical education, is an important part of the overall process of communication. The combination of verbal and visual information and rehearsal are most effective when the objective is to provide students with a clear idea of how to perform a motor task (Rink, 2010). When we engage in the learning process by providing ourselves as examples, participate in physical activities alongside students, and display enthusiasm consistently during lessons, it can help increase student motivation (Vidourek et al., 2011).

It is essential that, as role models, teachers of physical education exhibit healthy lifestyle practices to optimize teaching effectiveness. 
(Cardinal & Cardinal, 2001)

Lifestyle. It wouldn’t be difficult to argue that, on a daily basis, teachers can constantly provide lifestyle messages to students (Hickson & Bradford, 2010). For example, when teaching the importance of nutrition and physically active, healthy living, teachers can model behaviours that they want students to learn from. Hence, teachers can either show students that they believe in what they’re teaching, or not. If a teacher stresses to students that healthy eating is an important part of healthy living, then mixed messages will be communicated if the same teacher chooses to eat an unhealthy lunch in front of them. In addition to eating habits, lifestyle choices can also be communicated to students. Ideally, effective teachers model, and thus teach, the most current information in their field. Since the promotion of physically active, healthy lifestyles is a primary goal of physical education, we need to model the most favoured behaviours for active and healthy living (Dean et al., 2005).

Conclusion. Being a model for students is an essential, but often forgotten, part of teaching that requires greater attention. There are several ways that teachers of physical education can model to their students (including ways shared in this blog). Mixed messages will occur when teachers say one thing, and do another in front of students. This year, let’s MODEL for student learning; let’s “do as we say!”

Bradford, B.D. (2015). Symbolism of clothing: The relationship between teacher clothing and children’s perceptions in elementary school physical education. Dissertation. University of Alberta. Retrieved from https://era.library.ualberta.ca/downloads/dj52w739f
Bradford, B. & Hickson, C. (2010). What we wear: Does it matter? Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance National Convention (AAHPERD). Poster Presentation. Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Bradford, B.D., Stanec, A.D., & Hickson, C. (2012). Trading spaces, two journeys: Reflections on career transitions. The International Journal of Learning. 18(8), 17-32.
Cardinal, B.J. & Cardinal, M.K. (2001). Role modeling in HPERD: Do attitudes match behavior? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. 72(4), 34-39.
Damhorst, M.L., Miller-Spillman, K.A., & Michelman, S.O. (2005). The meanings of dress (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Fairchild Publications, Inc.
Dean, M.B., Adams, T.M., & Comeau, M.J. (2005). The effect of a female physical educator's physical appearance on physical fitness knowledge and attitudes of junior high students. The Physical Educator, 62(1), 14-25.
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.
Hickson, C. & Bradford, B. (November 2010). Healthy, Active Messages: What Are We Telling Our Students? P.E.Links4U Physical Education Website. http://www.pelinks4u.org/articles/hick_brad_1210.htm
Rikard, G. L. (2009). The significance of teacher caring in physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance. 80(7), 4-5.
Rink, J. E. (2010). Teaching physical education for learning. (6th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Higher Education.
Vidourek, R.A., King, K.A., Bernard, A.L., Murnan, J., & Nabors, L. (2011). Teachers’ strategies to positively connect students to school. American Journal of Health Education. 42(2), 116-126.
Vogler, E.W. (2003). Students with disabilities in physical education. In S.J. Silverman, & C.D. Ennis (Eds.). Student learning in physical education: Applying research to enhance instruction. (2nd Ed.). (pp. 83-105). Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.
Workman, J.E., & Freeburg, B.W. (2009). Dress and Society. New York: Fairchild.
Yilmaz, A. (2011). Quality problem in teaching profession: Qualities teacher candidates feel to be required of teachers. Educational Research and Reviews. 6(14), 812-823.