This school year I will start as a teacher physical education again at a school for prevocational education (VMBO) close to where I live. It was about six years ago that I got rid of my whistle, and the indoor shoes I once used weekly have become so dry that they are dangerous to use playing tag. Two months ago there was an p.e. opportunity at a school near me, with a doable schedule. I applied and got the job. So I am back to where I started, or am I?
First of all the answer must be yes! I do move back to my first profession and I am very pleased with that. I do miss the actual work in the gymnasium with the students and their typicalities. I am looking forward to practical planning of lessons (and tests!) and joining in on for example a game of dodgeball. A pile of folders and literature is looking at me for some weeks now to inspire me for activities in the classes. When I walk the dog, I hardly can stop thinking about planning outdoor trips with the groups in the woods bordering my house.
However, on second thought I rather see this move as a step forward instead of back. It is a logical step in my development as a teacher trainer to update my practical experience in education. Six years without any actual teaching other than those in higher education, and even 13 years (!) without teaching in secondary education, I am not the teacher trainer with the most recent experience in the practice I train my students for. After my academic development as a researcher and curriculum developer, it is certainly time for educational practice again.
Combining my two professions, or vocations, or jobs, or whatever the academic correct description is of what I do for a living, the very logical step for me to do now is practitioner research. That is, maybe paradoxically, something I have never done before. Although I like to see my PhD research as very practical and close to practice, and although I try to develop curricula based on theory and research, I actually never researched my own teaching practice.
So yes, teaching p.e. again means going back to my professional roots, and researching that very practice reflects what I was trained to do during my PhD project. And, moreover, practicing what I teach the student teachers will surely makes me a credible teacher educator.
But no, this step is foremost a jump ahead in my development. I may now become closer than ever to my ideal of combining teaching, educating teachers and researching. I will share this practitioner research journey on this blog as a means to show that I practice what I teach and teach what I practice.
And, by the way, the tentative exploratory research question I will start this new journey with will be:
What educational tools from cultural historical activity theory can be used in lessons p.e. to support students’ identity development?