In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast we speak with Justin Schleider we speak about the power of relationships in the classroom & how technology can assist with making this scalable. We also discuss how he’s been able to provide a window into his classes for stakeholders with tools such as SeeSaw. Justin also shares some insight into his schools 1:1 rollout of ChromeBooks & professional development options for teachers.
Resources & topics shared in this episode include
[00:00:29] Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone and welcome to episode 69 of the PE Geek podcast and always it’s an absolute pleasure to be here. Now super excited to launch into what are quickly becoming my favorite episode and those are where it’s got nothing to do with me, it’s all about the people that I’m interviewing and today’s no exception as I’ve certainly handpicked a phys ed superstar none other than Justin, all the way from where?
[00:00:59] Justin Schleider: Springfield, New Jersey. Little old Springfield, New Jersey.
[00:01:05] Jarrod Robinson: Awesome. What do you do? You teaching phys ed and what sort of grades?
[00:01:09] Justin Schleider: I teach phys ed preschool to sixth grade. So ages three to thirteen and they also have me co-teaching a couple technology classes this year. So I am co-teaching fourth grade technology as well. So I get to use a little bit of everything these days.
[00:01:28] Jarrod Robinson: So it’s like a nice little mash-up there of your interests and combining them. I bet you that’s sort of enhanced the phys as well. Would I be right in saying that?
[00:01:42] Justin Schleider: Oh absolutely and it’s cool because working so closely with the computer teacher now we’ve been able to plan a couple cross-curricular projects and I’m able to my have my fourth-graders in the lab and start a project there and do some editing of videos in there where I wouldn’t want to waste my phys ed movement time. But when you’re in computer class that’s what it is, it’s tech. So there it’s hitting the standards and I get the best of both worlds.
[00:02:10] Jarrod Robinson: For sure, for sure. Now you and I met each other for the first time, it seems like a long time ago now back in July of 2015 at the National PE Institute. Great event, I think we both would sort of say that about it. But there’s something I remember quite fondly of how you left that event. Do you mind sharing what you did that I think it’s going to become thing? This could be like a regular sort of thing that happens at the event.
[00:02:42] Justin Schleider: I hope it does, I hope it does. So we roll up Nick and Adam LeBow and I, we roll up and we have quite the hectic ride leaving Nick’s house at midnight getting there at, I don’t even know ten in the morning. One of the first things when we roll up I notice that there’s these PE Institute signs but they looked like sort of like a kindergartener might have made them, like maybe a first grader. So it struck me as rather funny that we have what I consider the greatest gathering of phys ed teachers by far that I’ve ever been around, I’m sure some other people have been to some different conferences with more superstars from all over the world. But it was for me by far the biggest conference I ever went to.
We’re looking at these signs that were handmade and it was just funny, it struck me as assuming. So every day I would tell Nick and Adam I’m going to take one of those, I’m going to take one of those. When we left sure enough I took one and then we documented it on Twitter every time we stopped, Nick and I stopped on the way home. We took it with us, we were in the supermarket, whenever we got gas. It was quite amusing, something to keep us alive because the energy, we were so stoked after that, it was probably the greatest conference I will ever be at.
[00:04:02] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah man I think it’s sort of– I was following the journey of the sign as well via social media and it became this big thing, everyone talking about it, connecting about it. I mean it’s sort of a real testament to the conference and testament to the online connection that people have. So where did that begin for you? Where did you get connected? Where did you start this journey of online and so forth?
[00:04:27] Justin Schleider: Sure, I remember vividly. My superintendent Edith Conroy was talking about how she was at school and they were doing a mystery Skype, she didn’t really know what it was called at the time but telling me and how this classroom was guessing where the other classroom was. I was like alright, I could do that, that doesn’t sound too difficult.
So I looked into it, found Education Skype and then I ended up hooking up with a guy named Nick Gordon out of the U.K., Wales specifically. We did a mystery Skype and I had the links and everything. From there things blew up. So I could give full credit to her and Nick Gordon because Nick is, we’re doing stuff and he made an iMovie and his was fantastic and showing the mystery Skype. Then I made an iMovie and it looked like the first iMovie somebody had ever made. So it was quite interesting.
But we were talking afterwards and he goes you got to get on Twitter. I thought just what most people think when you think of Twitter, celebrities talking about what they’re wearing, who’s eating what for dinner at what restaurant and just thought it was a huge waste of time to be honest. Nick set me straight, got to get on there! There’s a ton of physical educators and links and resources. Alright, got it on and ever since then I’ve hit the ground running.
[00:05:54] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah man, I think you’re probably one of the most active people in the space, constantly pushing out content, constantly being part of the conversation. I think you’re really powerful in that sometimes say what other people are thinking but don’t say. I think that would be one of your strengths as well.
[00:06:13] Justin Schleider: Yeah the old foot in mouth trick. Yes, absolutely.
[00:06:17] Jarrod Robinson: But yeah, I think you definitely are pushing out some really good stuff. I mean every week you push out a blog post. Do you want to tell us about that?
[00:06:26] Justin Schleider: Sure, so the blog is slowchatpe.wordpress.com and we always hear about blogging, growing up writing was alright. But I saw that there was a need for a phys ed Twitter gathering. Joey, at the time I came in, Joey Feith had kind of stopped with his chats. There wasn’t much phys ed action that was organized. I had, when I started Twitter and go on outside of phys ed and looked at different education things, there was a slow chat called Slow Chat Ed and these were probably those most brilliant educators I had come across up to that time. I mean it was one question a day Monday thru Friday and they were talking about things and going in depth with ways I’d never heard talked about before. So I was intrigued, got to know some of the people, still talk to a couple of them, Ross LeBrun was one of them.
Then I got the idea of well hey if they Slow Chat Ed, I could do Slow Chat Phys Ed, that way I’m not tied to an hour a week, you don’t have to schedule anything. Obviously everyone has different lives from either time zones or busy with different family constraints. So question a day, you show up whenever you want, you answer the question if you want, if you don’t want to answer the question that’s fine, it’s just super relaxed. So it seems to work.
[00:07:53] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah it definitely has and it seems like there’s really good themes that come from it then drive projects, collaborative projects and even more thought around it, so yeah well done. So I mean technology obviously is at the heart of all of this. Have you always been somewhat intrigued by tech or did it happen with that initial moment?
[00:08:15] Justin Schleider: No, I’ve always, well my tech was always video games. I was a gamer, I loved gaming. I would rather play sports and play activities and get sweaty. But when I wasn’t doing that in college and even growing up when I was young starting with Nintendo, I just loved video games. Then when computers came out I enjoyed computers, I messed many a computer up trying to figure something out.
To be honest I don’t know a ton about technology. I know what works for me and what I like and if it’s easy to use without too much hassle I’ll try to implement it, but I don’t know too much, I don’t know coding, I have kind of piecemealed my way through adding things to a computer, switching out hard drives but usually with the help of a buddy who knows much more than I do and YouTube. So I love tech, I think it’s great but I don’t think I’m very good at it to be honest.
[00:09:16] Jarrod Robinson: I think that’s really like a testament to how powerful it can be. When used by people like yourselves, smart people, it can be completely out of the way, it doesn’t have to be this thing that you have to be also knowledgeable. The good tech should do that, I think you’d agree that it should get out of the way so you can focus in on the important things. So when you are using it, what do you think makes tech work for you? Does it have to help student learning? Is it all about teacher efficiency? What do you value in that sort of equation?
[00:09:53] Justin Schleider: Well for me, I’m all about relationships, forming bonds with different people, doesn’t matter where I’m at, what I’m doing, I’ll talk to the person in the grocery stores in line behind me. So for me I like tech increasing that, making my relationships stronger. As a phys ed teacher where always, I don’t know about we, but I’m always worried about the stigma, do I just roll out the ball, are parents thinking this.
So really I wanted to get into sportfolios and show the parents this is what I’m doing in class, I have standards, I have outcomes that I’m teaching, we’re not just playing games. So how can I allow my stakeholders to really see that? That’s where I think the strength of my use of tech comes in with allowing people into my classroom and whether they’re stakeholders or fellow phys-ed people or admin from around the world. Anyone can get a glimpse of my class, all the need to do is ask.
[00:10:56] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah, yeah. Documenting it is a pretty cool thing. Now I know you’re fond of a couple of portfolio tools in particular. Did you want mention what they were?
[00:11:04] Justin Schleider: Sure, I mean I’ll talk about my bread and butter this year, it is Seesaw. Seesaw could be the most versatile app I’ve ever come across. It does pretty much everything I want all at one time. So the basis of it is it’s a sportfolio app, you take videos or pictures, you put it in, it’s under the kids name. You could do it all as the class so everyone can see it or you could do it individually. That’s cool but that’s not enough, I want parents to see growth.
So what’s really cool about Seesaw, you send a link home to the parent through email say hey now sign up for Seesaw and then they could choose the way they want to get alerted whether it’s through the app or email or whatever it is and then that’ll show them their kid before, with the younger kids specifically, beforehand, how they are/what they’re doing and then after. So kind of like the base line or the pretest, then the summative. That really for me is hammering home how much growth their child has in my class. So that’s just one, but the initial part that makes it cool.
[00:12:15] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah, for sure. So I mean is there a take-up of Seesaw and collecting evidence amongst everyone in your school or is it something that’s sort of happening just for you in isolation.
[00:12:29] Justin Schleider: Oh it’s me and the music teachers caught onto it a little bit as well. So in Seesaw you can make folders and the music teachers made a folder and it has some of the kids putting videos in there as well. So it can be cross-collaborative with other ones I don’t have many teachers that are willing to go the extra mile with that because we always have four billion things on our plate.
[00:12:52] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah. Have you found that it’s been really good for looking back and then being able to assess correctly because you’ve got some evidence to back up your own judgments and those sorts of things.
[00:13:03] Justin Schleider: Oh absolutely, by far. It’s all there. It’s completely objective, completely. It’s there, this is your child. My older kids will videotape themselves or a partner I’ll videotape them doing whatever standard outcome that we’re talking about after we’ve practiced and done what we need to and they have to basically prove to me that they’ve mastered the standard. Here’s the standard, this is what I expect, a lot of times I’ll let them choose the way they want to do it so they can do a tutorial, they could demonstrate it, they could do all different ways and then it’s all right there.
So if a parent comes in and says well my child has a two [00:13:42] (?) they’re progressing towards the standard, why? Well here’s the videos, this is what I was looking for, this is what they gave me, this is what they showed. They’re working toward the standard or they’ve mastered the standard or whatever the conversation has to be.
[00:13:57] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah, so you’ve got like real world evidence to back up things because I think we’re often guilty of this subjective I’m the expert, this is my opinion but really. I mean sometimes we need a bit more than that, which is I guess what Seesaw’s so powerful for. So I mean in and amongst that journey is there any other things that you’ve become really fond of? Obviously you’ve got the portfolio thing, is there any other bread and butter tools that you use on a day to day basis?
[00:14:26] Justin Schleider: Well Adam LeBow got me all about the Team Shake app and that’s really cool for me because, yeah of course he loves that then, because the biggest part, besides the ease I never have problems picking teams. I know my kids, I don’t have that many, it’s not that difficult to know their skill level and break them up, make it even for whatever I want or skew it to one side or the other, however I want.
What really bothered me was when I would tell kids to get in groups and we weren’t doing games and I just wanted them to practice some skill or another whatever the activity was, and a lot of my special ed kids weren’t getting chosen or they were choosing each other and you could kind of tell that certain kids would run to each other then the last couple would be kind of walking around with this lost look of nobody wants me as their partner or on my team. That really has got to make you feel garbage. So the Team Shake eliminates all that, I don’t have to worry about it, and the kids for the most part are pretty cool with it.
[00:15:29] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah, it’s a pretty useful tool like you said. If you want you can get ninja and make it sort of so the teams are in your favor in another way or you can have kids who don’t want to work, don’t work well together, it’s a pretty useful little tool. So in and amongst that I know you mentioned your earlier iMovie that you designed, I’m not saying that’s a failure or anything, but have you ever had failures in the tech and PE space that you’ve gone to try something you thought oh what’s happened.
[00:15:58] Justin Schleider: Oh sure, I’ll tell you one of the biggest ones is trying to use the Google Drive and Google Classroom with iPads from Apple. Apple and Google do not get along very well, it should be much more seamless and it’s not, it’s a pain in the butt when you’re talking about like because they’re signing in and they’re signing in as the Chrome first user and then my next class is coming in. It’s just it doesn’t work very well so that was a problem there.
The other one was Seesaw at the time doesn’t have, Chrome you can’t take videos on Chromebooks you had to use iPads, that kind of stuff. But one of the biggest things I had was a little bit of a pushback against using Chromebooks in my class for assessment because I love using Padlet and they, my oldest kids really do not like using Padlet as an exit ticket or even formative like when they’re off during and activity, if I’ll shoot out a question, they do not like it. So I had one, we talked and I said listen that’s fine if you don’t want to use it bring a pencil and paper, we could do the old fashioned way, I have no problem with that. They actually preferred that, so I thought that would be interesting.
[00:17:17] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah. I think that’s a pretty point isn’t it, like being willing to adapt and try things and get the feedback from a student voice and model it. I think it’ll be a foolhardy teacher who just continued down that path of doing something that they thought was just being innovative but the students didn’t really respond to it. So I think it’s a big lesson there.
[00:17:40] Justin Schleider: Yeah, all about being a critical consumer, I mean just because it works for other people it’s not necessarily going to work for my population.
[00:17:49] Jarrod Robinson: I agree completely.
[00:17:50] Justin Schleider: I’m pretty in tune with the kids, I mean kids are pretty easy to read, I’m at elementary school so they pretty much just tell you. Oh no a technology class, like it’s thirty minutes on a Chromebook giving me an exit ticket like really is it that big of a deal, but if it is to them I’m willing to change, that’s fine.
[00:18:09] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah, yeah. So you mentioned Chromebook, are they something that the school rolled out or is there a combination of those and other things?
[00:18:17] Justin Schleider: Yeah we have, we’re 1 to 1 with Chromebooks from 3rd grade and up so I have them bring them down every class although I don’t use them every class. We have a floating iPad cart for 3rd grade and up and most teachers don’t even use it, it actually sits in my office like 80% of the time and I house it there. So I actually just moved it out the other day. So that’s sitting there. So I do have a ton of access to tech, absolutely.
[00:18:45] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah, you sort of make a pretty interesting point about you’ve got this floating cart but it’s sits mostly in your space, it is a shared tool I’m assuming other teachers could use it, but they don’t. I think it comes back to that whole idea that just because you give and handout tech doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll translate into people being better teachers, I think you’d be a big, you’d agree with that also wouldn’t you?
[00:19:10] Justin Schleider: Absolutely and the way we rolled out our tech wasn’t the best either. The teachers rolled in last year from summer and break and ta-da here’s an iPad cart or the Chromebook cart in your class, that’s it. There was no training, they didn’t even know that the iPad cart had to be plugged, or the Chromebook cart had to be plugged in. It was a steep learning curve and the policy wasn’t exactly take the Chromebooks home which I don’t understand, I mean if you want a teacher using the tech give the tech to the teachers, I don’t care if you’re shopping on Amazon with it, you’re using it, you’re learning it, you’re figuring it out.
[00:19:47] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah, yeah for sure. Now it’s a common occurrence, you roll out these programs and not necessarily provide the most important piece of that which is training and most people completely miss any of the benefit of that roll out because of the lacking piece. The LA example I knew how they rolled out millions of iPads to districts and forgot some pretty important pieces there would be a big example of this in action. So what do you think works well, I mean what makes a teacher use tech well versus someone who doesn’t. Is there something do you think that makes it happen?
[00:20:30] Justin Schleider: The teacher’s got to know the kids, that’s you have to really understand your kids and when you use the tech, you’re the one who told me this, if it doesn’t make it easier, increase engagement or increase learning why are using it? So that’s part of it. You have to look at what your outcome is, what do you want to gain from it? Is that going to help you? I’m not one of those people that believes tech has to be in every lesson especially in phys ed it does not have to be.
So you have to look at and see is it really going to benefit your teaching. A lot of it is teachers have to start taking the onus on themselves. I mean nowadays there’s no reason why you should claim ignorance of anything. You can YouTube anything you want, you can learn anything you want, anytime in your basement, in your underwear. I don’t understand why people are saying I don’t know this, I don’t. What do you mean you don’t know? Everything you could ever wish to know is on the internet, all you have to do is search it. I think that’s a skill that our students have that some of our teachers don’t have.
[00:21:37] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah, couldn’t have said it better myself, completely agree with that whole idea of being able to access things whenever you need sort of idea and I always look at the concept of people saying that they’re digitally illiterate and I equate that to people tend to celebrate that, they might say oh no I’m digitally illiterate, have you heard that sort of thing before?
[00:22:01] Justin Schleider: Yeah I have and to me it just sounds like you’re being lazy to be honest. You don’t value it, you don’t want to put the time into it.
[00:22:08] Jarrod Robinson: For sure, it’s definitely a value thing. But just imagine if someone said I’m illiterate, would people celebrate that? They honestly wouldn’t, like that would be a cause of embarrassment but I honestly believe that it’s probably just the same to say you’re digitally illiterate in today’s day and age I don’t think it’s something you strive for, you should be doing the opposite.
[00:22:33] Justin Schleider: Yeah and it all goes back to growth mindset. I know it’s a bus burn, it’s overused concept and I get it but if you are trying to get better at your craft every day, every month, every year there’s no way you could get better without understanding tech. I’m going to put it this way, technology’s a major way in which you can get better at things.
[00:22:54] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah for sure, I just like the idea that if you’re a teacher and you’re modeling constant learning then you pretty much modeling what the students are doing. There’s only one thing I despise and that’s teachers that think they know it all and that they don’t need to try new things and they don’t need to change and adapt or at least experiment and I think that’s the key characteristic that makes you and many other people successful in that, they’re willing to have a go.
[00:23:24] Justin Schleider: Yeah, we interviewed Don Reddick for one time and he had a really funny quote about that, he said his dad said Don I don’t care if you teach for thirty years just don’t teach the same thing thirty times.
[00:23:37] Jarrod Robinson: I think you’re spot on there, perfect way to finish the show Justin. So where can people find out more about what you’re doing online?
[00:23:47] Justin Schleider: Sure they can find at @schleiderjustin S-C-H-L-E-I-D-E-R Justin, you can hear me on the Voxcast, there’s a podcast that we put out trying to interview people in and out of phys ed, trying to see what we can learn from people who are much smarter than myself which is really good. You can catch me on Voxer, same name, schleiderjustin and voxerpe.com is good place to get started there.
[00:24:14] Jarrod Robinson: Perfect man, well I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy day and I’m sure there’s a million other things that you could be doing, but you’re here today and you’ve shared some absolute value bombs about tech and as a general sort of advice for people getting started and sort of pursing that growth mindset, so I really appreciate it, so thank you very much.
[00:24:34] Justin Schleider: Oh it’s awesome. I’m very excited to have been interviewed by the PE Geek who’s done it all and who continues to forge ahead. So thank you very much for the opportunity to be here and hopefully somebody listens and likes a little bit of what I said.
[00:24:50] Jarrod Robinson: Yeah man, thank you I really appreciate, so we’ll speak soon.
[00:24:54] Justin Schleider: Alright have a good one sir.
[00:24:55] Jarrod Robinson: Later man.
The easiest way to listen to The PE Geek Podcast is via our dedicated mobile app, which you can download for FREE for iPhone/iPad & Android. The app will let you know when new episodes go LIVE & allow you to listen to all of the episodes while on the go. We even let you store files for offline playback so you don’t need to use your mobile data. Go download here.
Want to support The PE Geek Podcast? Become a Patreon & help bring it to life here