When looked up in the dictionary, the word “change” was described as “a process through which something becomes different” (Oxford Dictionaries | English, 2019). I liked this idea of “process” as I do believe change cannot happen overnight. Do I believe I can advocate for changing physical activity habits? I do. However, I also believe that to be an agent of such change I must realise it is a process that will take time and commitment on my part as an advocate. My teaching metaphor is that of a compass. In this instance, I am a compass ready to help guide and navigate both my students, my school and the wider community towards more positive physical activity habits.
Firstly, I believe that it is important to look at the social-ecological model if I am to be an advocate for change. Although the level of change evoked by each level may differ, every level is important if a lasting change in physical activity is to occur (Langille and Rodgers, 2010).
So, how do I plan to be an advocate for such change? Well, I believe the first place I can start to advocate is within my own PE class (at the individual and interpersonal levels). In my last blog I spoke of Physical Literacy, a holistic concept that acknowledges the link between the mind and body of the student in their learning. If we acknowledge this link between mind and body, it wouldn’t be too far out of the way to suggest our actions can be shaped by our thoughts (IAMSPORTICUS, 2015). Therefore, if physical literacy gives students an opportunity to develop more positive thoughts towards physical activity well then I believe this too will cause their actions towards physical activity to be more positive.
Secondly, I believe I could advocate for change through engaging with comprehensive school physical activity programmes (O’ Keeffe, 2019). The best example of this which I have yet experienced is the Y-Path programme. This programme stresses the link between psychological variables and physical activity levels i.e. self efficacy is directly correlated with their attitudes and involvement in physical activity (Belton et al., 2014). By getting the whole school involved in such programmes, along with extra curricular activities, not only am I engaging with the organisational level but I am taking another step towards advocating for changing physical activity habits.
Personally, I have seen how a lack of self belief/ knowledge/ skills, were the major reasons people did not take part in physical activity. While working alongside a man with a severe spinal injury, I have managed to help him begin to partake in physical activity regularly again by giving him the skills/ knowledge and therefore helping him realise how capable he is. We cannot deny the link between mind and body if we are going to advocate for change!
Some may say that with advocating for those changes alone, as a teacher, I am doing enough. That nowadays we expect too much from teachers in their ever changing role (Gleeson, 2012). However, I disagree. If I want to be a true advocate for my subject and evoke change that will last, I believe I must also engage with the community and public policy levels as seen on the social economic model i.e. linking with local sports partnerships, engaging with research to inform public policy etc. (Tannehill et al., 2015). In an era where only 12% of secondary school students meet physical activity guidelines (Getirelandactive.ie, 2019) , there is no time more important than now, to use my voice as a teacher and guide my students towards a lifetime of physical activity.
Can I do it? Yes I can.
Cardon, G., Van Acker, R., Seghers, J., De Martelaer, K., Haerens, L. and De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2012). Physical activity promotion in schools: which strategies do schools (not) implement and which socioecological factors are associated with implementation?. Health Education Research, 27(3), pp.470-483.
Belton, S., O’ Brien, W., Meegan, S., Woods, C. and Issartel, J. (2014). Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health: evidence and background to the development of the Y-PATH physical activity intervention for adolescents. BMC Public Health, 14(1).
Jim Gleeson (2012) The professional knowledge base and practice of Irish post-primary teachers: what is the research evidence telling us?, Irish Educational Studies, 31:1, 1-17.
Getirelandactive.ie. (2019). [online] Available at: http://www.getirelandactive.ie/Professionals/National-PA-Plan.pdf [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].
Langille, J. and Rodgers, W. (2010). Exploring the Influence of a Social Ecological Model on School-Based Physical Activity. Health Education & Behavior, 37(6), pp.879-894.
Merriam-webster.com. (2019). Definition of ADVOCATE. [online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advocate#synonyms [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].
Owen, M., Kerner, C., Taylor, S., Noonan, R., Newson, L., Kosteli, M., Curry, W. and Fairclough, S. (2018). The Feasibility of a Novel School Peer-Led Mentoring Model to Improve the Physical Activity Levels and Sedentary Time of Adolescent Girls: The Girls Peer Activity (G-PACT) Project. Children, 5(6), p.67.
Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2019). change | Definition of change in English by Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/change [Accessed 2 Mar. 2019].
Tannehill, Deborah et al. (2015) Building effective physical education programs . Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.