Partnership with Schools
by Ray Allen, Chair, Department of Physical Education & Sport
As the Chair of Central Michigan University's Department of Physical Education and Sport, and currently the Director of the Pedagogy Division, I would like to welcome you to this introductory newsletter. This is our first step in attempting to create lines of communication and collaboration between our PETE program and physical educators across Michigan who conscientiously and professionally do their jobs every day.
We as a profession face real trials ahead, and as physical educators, you know that. There are a lot of factors that are at play that make it difficult for us to elevate the status of physical education programming, improve the quality of programming, and improve outcomes in terms of documented positive changes in the lives of our children. In my opinion, one of the major contributors to our difficulty in elevating the profession is the degree of isolation in which we work. Elementary physical educators as an example often have multiple buildings with student numbers near or over a thousand each year with little time or resources to collaborate with other physical educators. One time I was contracted as a consultant for a physical education program. On our first meeting with all the physical education faculty, we had to dedicate the first 45 minutes for teachers to introduce and actually get to know each other! On the other hand, university professors – those preparing future teachers and completing research on teaching and learning – are so without significant and lasting connections with practitioners.
Obviously, both K-12 physical educators and university personnel would benefit from a system where members of both groups collaborated and communicated on a regular, rich basis. I believe my understanding of the most significant problems of practice have occurred during my years of service as a consultant in schools. It is in those settings that we as collaborators identified problems, searched for solutions, and found ways to improve student performance in economical ways. All entities can bring unique contributions to the table. Physical educators bring expertise in identifying the issues and problems of practice and vast experiences in managing learning environments and actually teaching children. University professionals bring expertise in framing research questions and collecting and managing data. They also have access to specific areas of knowledge such as motor development, exercise science, technology in teaching, and creating cultural change. Together, the physical educators and university teams can plan and test solutions and innovations that draw on the strengths of both.
So this is our invitation to grow a partnership relationship between your programs and Central Michigan University's Department of Physical Education and Sport. We are in the process of creating mechanisms that allow all of us to communicate and share information and foster a real partnership between schools and the university. We are starting by creating modes of communication, but expect it to grow into much more. We are planning on quarterly newsletters in this format that familiarizes you with our faculty and programs but also brings you regular updates and analysis of latest research on teaching and learning, and updates on latest trends and changes in policy.
We are constructing a Facebook page to assist in our collaborations. We do not want it to be a social tool as much as it is an informational tool. We do want to highlight partner K-12 physical education programs and their accomplishments, and we do want to use it to engage in constant ongoing discourse. Beyond that, we want to create discourse on issues and solutions. We want to use it as a platform to identify common problems of practice, then work together to study and implement solutions. We will not be as interested in what persons are doing as we will be focusing on what actually works. When we find solutions that work, we can use this as a tool to share our innovations with everyone.
There is more, but this is probably enough to share in this first communication. I am personally inviting you to join us in this network of professional physical educators. We will continue to send you newsletters unless you contact us, asking us to stop. Beyond that, we are encouraging you to respond back to us telling us that you would like to join our fraternity. Please contact us at the following email to unsubscribe from receiving the newsletter and/or expressing your interest in joining our network:
To coin a phrase from the great philosopher, Red Green, "…we are all in this together"