Episode 53 – The Power of Connection with Dave Carney

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast, I speak with Dave Carney, an amazing Physical Educator from Fort Myers in Florida. Dave shares how his teaching has changed since becoming a connected educator and how he got started using Technology in PE. If you’ve ever debated about becoming connected, Dave’s story and successes will reinforce just how powerful it can be.

Resources mentioned in the episode

  1. It’s Now Possible eBook
  2. Sports Education Tchoukball Unit
  3. CollabraCam, Video Tagger Pro, Balance It, CoachNote, Run-Lap-Tap

Press Play below to listen to all previous episodes here.  Alternatively, download a full episode transcript here


00:29 Jarrod Robinson: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the PE Geek podcast, and as always, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here. Now, my favourite episodes are the ones where I introduce you to Phys Ed teachers, who are doing really incredible things and it’s no different today, when I introduce you to Dave Carney. How are you, Dave?

00:50 Dave Carney: I’m fine. How are you, Jarrod?

00:51 JR: Very good. Now, paint the picture for the people listening. It’s an early morning for you whereabouts.

00:57 DC: [chuckle] Yeah. I’m in Fort Myers, Florida. I teach kindergarten through fifth grade PE.

01:03 JR: Awesome, and how many years has this been, what you’ve been doing?

01:08 DC: Well, this is my 10th year. Well, I taught 10 years in the classroom and then I got a lucky break and got the PE position when the teacher quit. So, it’s my fifth year teaching physical education.

01:20 JR: Perfect, and I mean what sort of… You mentioned lucky break, why for you is it the thing that you enjoy?

01:29 DC: Well, I always grew up playing sports, especially baseball, but I went to school for elementary education, but I was also a personal trainer and ran some fitness camps in North Carolina, and my principal knew that, so when the PE teacher quit, he called me up one day over the summer and said, “Hey, do you want the job”, and I jumped all over that and this is my favourite job I’ve ever had. So, I’m great.

01:55 JR: So, it’s sort of like the amalgamation of all the things that you grew up enjoying and you get to sort of bring that to life in an everyday setting. I feel like that’s the same for me too. I grew up with sport and teaching and mash them together and you get this PE profession, so it’s interesting. I hadn’t known that story about you, so that’s really cool.

02:15 DC: Yeah, it’s been great.

02:17 JR: Yeah. So, I mean I wanted to bring you on the show because you’re doing some really incredible things and I think they are a really testament to your interest in wanting to learn more, and I wanted you to sort of paint this setting for us about this whole online journey and where it sort of happened for you.

02:38 DC: Yeah, it’s been incredible. I mean I’d say after teaching about two, two-and-a-half years of PE, I really wasn’t connected to anybody. I felt like I was my own island, and there’s not a lot of professional development in my district. We only meet about once a year and I didn’t know… I can’t just go to the music teacher and ask her for help or another classroom teacher. So, it was really just me, and I’m always trying to learn and grow, and I was just searching for… It’s kind of interesting here, I know you know this. I was just searching for a new, like some books to read and just something new, and I stumbled across your book, It’s Now Possible, and I honestly didn’t even know who Jarrod Robinson was at the time, [chuckle] and it honestly blew me away. I didn’t know any of that was possible in PE class, and it just changed my line of thinking, and I got connected, following you and listening to the podcast, and that led me to talking to people on Twitter through your Twitter challenge. It also then led me to Osama from Dubai, who got me on to Voxer and that just changed everything, just talking to people all over the world, so it’s been incredible.

03:55 JR: Yeah, yeah. It is a real rabbit hole of professional development in many ways, isn’t it?

04:00 DC: Yeah, oh definitely.

04:01 JR: I just love it, like you’ve found a resource and then you’ve got connected and it sort of hyperleverages that connection, which I think is incredible. So, the book that you were talking about, It’s Now Possible, was probably one of the first ever things that I ever published back in 2011. I looked at it the other day and thought it probably needs to be updated or had something done with it, but it’s amazing to know that that eventually led you down the track on social media, and from there, you’ve gone on to be a really important conversationalist in the community that I am part of every single day, and I really wanna thank you for that. And I really wanna sort of get around to one area of a unit that you did last year, I think it was, and that was the Tchoukball unit that you introduced into your… Was it year five students or grade five students?

04:57 DC: Yeah, exactly. We’ve done it two years now, and I definitely learned a lot from the first year. This year was much better and much smoother.

05:04 JR: Yeah.

05:05 DC: But yeah, we just introduced lots of different apps and different technology that the kids were not used to and it was just an amazing journey, so yeah.

05:14 JR: So, I mean you set the scene. It was a Tchoukball unit, and for those of you that haven’t played Tchoukball, I recommend going and checking it out, and you probably wanna… You probably don’t necessarily know how it’s spelt initially. It’s a bit of a different one, starts with a T, but it is a great game, and I know that, Dave, you ran it in a bit of a sport education model, is that right?

05:37 DC: Yeah, that’s correct. I kinda did a blend of something I saw from you on your website and then something from Nathan Horn and tried to blend it into my own type of unit with… The kids all had different jobs between captain, scorekeeper, immediate team, referees, things like that, and we did like a round robin tournament, and eventually did a culminating event, which was just amazing. Inside… We’re normally outside all day long, and so the culminating event was actually inside our cafeteria. We created that. We made that into just a big [06:15] ____ [chuckle] of just craziness, and we had most of the school come out to watch it, so it was just incredible.

06:24 JR: Now, I remember you mentioning that the principal had even made a journey into the culminating event.

06:29 DC: [chuckle] Yeah, we had a VIP section for the administration. We had… Some of the students were like the ticket sale people and the security. We call ’em security. [chuckle] They really took those jobs seriously and escorted our VIP to their section and everything. It was amazing.

06:50 JR: Yeah, that’s incredible. For those of you that are listening that aren’t familiar with the sports education model, essentially, as Dave has pointed out, students are given roles and a little bit more responsibility, you would say, in the class, and did you find as the teacher that you got to step back a little bit and see a different perspective from the students?

07:12 DC: Yeah, it was absolutely amazing. I actually did my own, on my phone, videoing and talking to kids. I have three assistants, pairs, and between them and just the kids running everything, it was just incredible, and I got to just be a fan and walk around, and it was just… It’s hard to describe just how wonderful the kids… They just took their jobs so seriously and did just such an amazing job of just learning new things. They took the media team to a new level. They actually used your Balance It app to do a cheer squad, and things like that. It just blew me away.

07:55 JR: Yeah, really impressive. So, if you’re interested in learning more about the sports education model, you can head onto thepegeek.com/sportsed, and that will redirect you to a 60-minute webinar that you can complete, that sort of takes you into the different processes around running it. Now, would you have, sort of going back to the students’ responses in that particular unit, do you think they got a lot from it? More so than just a traditional PE setting with direct teaching and so forth?

08:29 DC: Yeah, I really think so because I have definitely some students that just were not [08:35] ____… Just they didn’t want to participate, and with the sports ed unit, they just took on these new jobs. They were part of a new type of team where everybody had a position, everybody had a job. And I’m thinking of one in particular, he’s not a big PE fan, let’s just say, and he took that media position to a whole new level. He was excited to come to PE every day, he couldn’t wait to go around and either take pictures or use some of the apps to document the journey, and I was really impressed. And that led to deeper conversation with him, and getting a better relationship with him down the road, so it was great.

09:20 JR: Yeah, all really big wins. Now, going forward, what sort of things did you learn from that? Maybe it was a mistake that you made on that sort of Tech in PE journey scale that you could share with us today, because I’m a big believer in mistakes being really big lessons for us in the classroom, and I know that you probably think the same.

09:43 DC: Yeah, there is one really big one, and I was so excited to use the app, Collabracam, that I saw on your webinar.

09:48 JR: Okay.

09:51 DC: And for those who don’t know, Collabracam basically takes… You have a director with one iPad, and then different cameras can be set up with other phones and iPads, and it just brings it all together in one movie, and they could take different shots in the court, different angles, and it worked at home flawlessly. It was perfect. I worked on it with my children [chuckle] and I was so excited to use this, and then I brought it to school and brought about 10 students down to the cafeteria to try it out, and it would not sync up. We thought the Wi-Fi was probably blocking it, but eventually we found out it just needed a separate kind of Wi-Fi box, which we fixed on year two.

10:38 DC: So, we really didn’t use Collabracam the first year of our tournament unfortunately, but this past year, it worked just perfectly and it was one of my favourite apps there is, so it was great.

10:49 JR: Yeah, it is a pretty incredible app, and I know that they’ve just recently updated it to make it even better. I think you can add more devices to the different camera angles, but like Dave’s mentioned, it produces a professional video-type effect in a phys-ed class, which I think is extraordinary. So, you can head along to thepegeek.com/collabracam, which is C-O-L-L-A-B-R-A-C-A-M, and that’ll redirect you to the app store where you can have a look. Now, you mentioned Collabracam. Are there any other apps or devices, tools, that you are quite fond of?

11:29 DC: Yeah, during the tournament, we used a couple of yours, the Video Tagger Pro and… Loved that, and like I said, the Balance It app, the students just loved doing those balances. During our regular PE class because we’re outside, we added a outside projector that allows me to project to our white board. I think people think we’re a little kinda crazy outside projecting, but it works pretty well for us, especially in the morning when there’s not a glare.

12:00 JR: Yeah.

12:02 DC: So, yeah, we use… Some of the ones I use the most, I guess, would be Coach Note, [12:07] ____ Kids, especially now that they have the kids version.

12:10 JR: For sure.

12:12 DC: Yeah. We use another one of yours, Run Lap Tap. I time some students… They love to be… Some of them love to be timed. So, they love seeing their scores and how they can improve on their times.

12:24 JR: Perfect.

12:25 DC: Yeah.

12:25 JR: Now, I think you pointed out a really good thing that I wanna mention, and you do teach in a very… A very interesting environment in that you’re always outside. That’s right, isn’t it?

12:39 DC: Yeah. Unless it’s like a rainy day, then we go inside the media center or the cafeteria.

12:43 JR: And the other sort of difficulty is that you’ve got a very big number of students every time that you teach.

12:47 DC: [chuckle] Yeah. I have anywhere from four to six classes. So, about, usually about 100 to 100, sometimes 50 students at a time.

12:58 JR: Absolutely. So, Dave is really testament to how good planning and enthusiasm and so forth around how to use technology can actually be possible in a large classroom. He’s showing that it absolutely is. In approaches like SEPEP program, a sports education program that he’s mentioned, you’re able to remove yourself, which meant that you were able to do things that you probably normally wouldn’t have done, which again, sort of references that the model of teaching that you use can definitely free you up in those larger environments.

13:35 JR: Awesome stuff, Dave, that’s why I’m really impressed with the work that you’ve been putting out there and wanted to get you on the show to share it. Is there any other mistakes that you’ve made along the way, outside of the SEPEP sports education program that you can think of off the top of your head?

13:49 DC: Oh, yeah. I mean a lot of it was when we first started trying to project, project my iPad or phone to the screen. We just had a lot… I had a lot of WiFi tech problems, that were eventually fixed. Things were being blocked and I can definitely think of at least one or two times when the… I was trying to project it, and for some reason, it just wouldn’t do it. I have a connector and it just would not connect, and so I just had to improvise, just had to just start jumping around with the kids, and moving around until it got working. I was calling the tech guy, and it happened actually more than once. [chuckle]

14:33 JR: Oh, yeah.

14:34 DC: Just getting things blocked and things not working.

14:36 JR: Absolutely, I mean, I am the same. I’ve had numerous situations myself, [chuckle] where mistakes have been made, and I think they’re some of the best lessons that I’ve ever had in this whole tech and PE space. Fail forward, make sure that you try and not make the same mistake again. I think you’ve got to expect it because learning is messy. Students learn every day, and it’s not a flawlessly executed thing every time, and we’re no different. So I don’t think that we should be afraid to try something out of the risk of failure. I think you’d agree with that as well. You’ve mentioned Voxer. Now, we haven’t really spoken about this a lot on the podcast. However, I do wanna sort of highlight, for you, why you think that’s being the absolute game changer.

15:26 DC: You know Voxer is like a instant message system for… Or you can even text different teachers around the world. I just got connected into just a PE general chat, and that became… That was when it was only about I don’t know 10 or 15 people in the chat, and it’s just been… It’s just grown over to, I don’t really know, 200-250 people, which led to other side chats as well with different interest groups, and I could just get on there at any time of the day or night, and throw a question out there, or share something that we’ve been doing, and within moments could get a response from people all over the country, all over the world. I’ve just… These people have become my friends on Voxer. Just talking to them for over a year on there, a year-and-a-half, so…

16:20 JR: Yeah.

16:20 DC: It’s just been an amazing journey.

16:22 JR: I just love that it’s like a virtual staffroom.

16:26 DC: Yeah.

16:27 JR: I know that you’re in a school where you don’t have access to heaps of phys ed teachers all the time, but what you do have access to with Voxer is that, you can talk to someone in a different country about a question you have right then and there, and it’s as if you’re in that staff room environment, which I think is really quite powerful. So, head along to thepegeek.com/voxer, which is V-O-X-E-R, and you can find a tutorial video about how to use it and get started in your PE journey. So, Dave, that will probably bring us to the end of this episode. Where can people find out and get connected with you after today’s show?

17:08 DC: Well, I’m mostly on Twitter and Voxer. My Twitter handle is pe_dave1017, and you can find me on Voxer, it’s dcarne, without a y, 681.

17:22 JR: Perfect, and we’ll have all those links inside of the show notes at thepegeek.com for you to download, as well as all the resources, and anything else that we’ve mentioned throughout today’s show. So, I really wanna thank Dave for coming on and sorta taking us on an inside look into how he got connected, and the value of connection right through to how it’s sort of being introduced into practice, and then how that practice has sort of grown all because of the connections that he’s made, and I think the biggest part Dave is the fact that you’ve been willing to try, and learn, and fail, and adapt, and move. I think that’s the absolute reason why I’ve asked you to come on the show, so I really appreciate it, thank you, and I look forward to speaking soon.

18:04 DC: Yeah, sounds good, thank you, Jarrod.

18:06 JR: Your welcome, see you.



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