Last week me and a number of my physical education colleagues attended the 2017 SHAPE Convention in Boston. There was a significant amount of build up to the conference. This was in the form of planning my own sessions, looking at sessions I wanted to attend, debating about how the snowstorm was going to affect things at the conference, and speaking to colleagues face-to-face on social media about the conference. I was pretty well planned for this conference and was really looking forward to it, and it did not disappoint. Like many others I wanted to reflect on my experience of the conference, which lead to the following MAIN reflection, that the conference was where handshakes turned to hugs (term courtesy of Andy Milne, National Health Teacher of the Year, 2017, @carmelhealth).
Handshakes turned to hugs for many reasons. First, I started the conference on Tuesday presenting netball with what came to be termed as a 'British Invasion' with @misslynchpe a young professional from Bournemouth, England, who is currently a Doctoral student from the University of Alabama. We met last year in Minneapolis, and decided to run the netball session with Teaching Games for Understanding. It was an inspired move. Our meetings on Skype and emails prior to the conference had been pretty business-like, as was the meeting we had on Monday before the presentation, the day before the conference started. However, we connected through doing this session and as the session went on, I learned that Shrehan is an incredibly talented physical educator. She inspired me throughout the meetings we had, during the presentation, and then throughout the week. What impressed me most was how she made connections with everyone she met, be it teachers, professors, administrators, other graduate students. The way she straddled the gap between theory and practice as she took an interest in everything going on around her was particularly amazing. And guess what? Our initial handshake on Monday turned to hugs on Friday.
After our presentation, I played the infamous game of Paddle Zlam, brought to SHAPE Boston by Justin Schleider, (@SchleiderJustin). Although I was already presenting with a number of physical educators on Thursday in a session on Game-Centered Approaches (GCAs) I had through Twitter or Voxer. However, I was intentional at this conference in reaching out to and meeting additional physical educators I met in that space. Through informal conversations and playing Paddle Zlam with my partner Craig Kemmlein (@coachkemmlein), I connected on a much deeper level with him and a number of others - Dave Gusitsch (@WstprtWellness), Kari Bullis (@BullisKari), Nick Endlich (@NicholasEndlich), Andy Milne, etc. And guess what? Handshakes turned to hugs.
My final experience was presenting with a small group of incredible people and physical educators on Thursday in a session on GCAs - Jorge Rodriguez (@PhysEdNow), Seth Martin (@smartintahoe), Lynn Burrows (@Lovepeme), Mel Hamada (@mjhamada), and Matt Pomeroy (@Physed_Pomeroy). We have been working together on Twitter and Voxer for about 18-months, and my idea to get more traction going in GCAs such as Teaching Games for Understanding/Tactical Games. We started getting our session planned over Voxer way back in December, 2016 and were still tweaking it as we had dinner the night before. While we may not have covered as much ground as we had wanted, it was truly inspirational to be around those physical educators who really are leaders in the field. Not only are these educators some of the best people you would ever want to meet, they showed me how they has taken an idea (like a GCA) and completely ran with it after being intentional about how it might impact their students. Indeed, this was the biggest message I think people who attended our session to take home: that students matter, and to reach students GCAs were an excellent way to motivate our young learners and teach them skills beyond psychomotor skills. The vibe in the room made me feel awesome, and glad that I originally conceptualized this session. We took the picture below and immediately after the session began to talk about how we may extend this session for next year, which is how great these people are! And guess what? Handshakes turned to hugs.
I think my biggest thing for everyone at this conference (and I think other bloggers have said this since SHAPE Boston) is that we take time out to reach out to people. I feel incredibly lucky and inspired by everyone I met at SHAPE, which includes people not on social media and/or in this blog. We are all physical educators, whether an 'academic' or physical education teacher or school administrator. We know from Aaron Beighle (@AaronBeighle) that with students, its about relationships. And building those relationships so handshakes turn to hugs might be the biggest gift in life we all have. But that comes from taking the time to get to know people, being warm and connecting on the same level. For me as a 'academic', taking time to reach out and connect with practitioners comes easy, and I'm not so sure all us 'academics' do that as intentionally as we should. I know I put myself out there last week, and will continue to do so. Will you join me in doing the same?
Contact me on Twitter: @drstephenharvey or Voxer: sharve7402