G’Day learning peers,

Welcome to Blog 3 of ‘Gunn Engagement - 365 Day Sharing Project’ a daily reflective piece for teachers/coaches of all movement contexts, curating the learning of unique individuals. 

I’m Gunny (Coach Gunny/Craig Gunn) an experienced educator. I have a particular ‘calling’ to support those at the grassroots/foundation/community level.  As such consider joining the below group:

“Grassroots Coaching and Consulting” Facebook group (not the page) which gathers coaching/teaching brains from around the world.  It began less than 17 months ago and now has 528 members from every continent and most sports:

Join and invite your friends!  We’re practical, warm and engaging, but also a little more generalist for people who are often given a bag of balls as volunteer ‘coach’ and are trying to navigate what it means to be a teacher!  

I’m sharing this ‘Gunn Engagement - 365 Day Sharing Project’ to further support communities of educators, sharing about how to best engage learners. 

The topic of today’s piece..

My blog begins now!

It's 9:47pm as I write this and I am an 8:30pm to bed bloke... However, I've already found this reflective habit beneficial. In the past couple of weeks (as indeed mentioned yesterday) I was reminded of something important: advocacy through creative, professional sharing requires teachers to remain curious. Although I think this is changing, my memory of school teaching features a tendency of colleagues working in isolation and shutting ourselves off from other peers' innovation. Times this by at least five when it comes to higher education institutions. I was certainly guilty of this when it came to technology so got out! However, I loved 'teaming' and professional learning conversations. And now, my last half a decade dalliance working with sports' organisations instead of schools or universities has taken the silo effect to another level in some.

Notwithstanding the amazing recent efforts of Netball and National Rugby League (NRL) mentioned yesterday to be honest and vulnerable in their collective work, the guarded actions displayed towards me by some leaders within large corporations like the Australian Football League (AFL) has me constantly curious. After guiding key people through things like 'Game Centred Approaches' and other coach development innovations around safety their guarded and at times combative attitude towards me could be because good teachers/learners open us up to questions like you know, how’s it going with the communities of practice you promised after going online with 'Coach AFL'? How much have you written of the curriculum? Do you mind telling me why a coach of children rather than youth is not allowed to do a level 2 or 3 coaching certificate? Distancing themselves from me rather than being curious with questions and dialogue... They just don’t want to go there. But I've seen it all before. Most teachers (as leaders of young people) are just like leaders of powerful institutions. We want to keep private, for some maybe just out of a sense of fear. For others, you know, perhaps it's just because their sole job appears to be to hold power. That is all just like leaders of large corporations.

But this week I was walking my dogs recalling my Australian Football learning journey over the past five years and I remembered the first light bulb moment that occurred from interaction with Dr. Shane Pill. I reached out to him because after being asked to deliver to AFL staff on 'Game Sense' coaching, it appeared to me that they knew little about any of it, despite what was promoted through official AFL manuals and the like. So Pilly, I doubt you are reading this, but my journey would have taken a different path if not for our professional conversation that day. Maybe I'd be back to knowing little about Australian Football! Yet I reached out to him over email (a little intimidated) and I said, you know, can we have a quick phone call because I think, you know, your research shows we’re thinking about many of the same issues. Indeed, I only knew him through his research and had been citing much of his work in my coaching and PE lectures at Australian Catholic University a few years before. So many things came out of his kind professional conversation. I of course took lots of notes as we were talking and Shane eventually coached me through my only peer reviewed conference paper as a result. And so that was amazingly helpful to talk with him that day. Shane’s so very giving.

Yet, the main thing I got from that conversation was that Shane thought about these learning issues in a different way than I was. He was questioning the cultural processes and I was still stuck on some of the words, like, 'Game Sense'. And even the games I was using to help the learning were overdone. For me it was a transformative conversation. For example, when I 'banged on' about the words like 'Game Sense Drills' that to me were counterintuitive, Shane asked me to dig deeper and consider if the AFL was really using 'Game Sense' as a model. This learning conversation again (just like with Richard I posted yesterday) helped me to remember how I cannot assume certain things about complex organisations and their learning structures. And eventually he led me to think about how my practice as an agent for change needed to tell my story of how I came to this and to try to connect with coaches once again on their 'story's' level. And of course always start and end with questions...

Unlike many of my peers at an un-named university in this piece that I also worked at, I certainly don’t consider myself to be an expert on coaching and teaching issues. I mean, just because you have a PHD and written a few a book on things means nothing (Jack Cahill, 2018). Indeed, I’m really not that arrogant unlike some haunting the halls of academia or fields of stadia! Yet, through sharing my coaching practices for volunteers and creating safe forums to share, I am trying to foster support for young people that would have been most helpful for me when I was growing up. And like the weirdo I am, I just had to do a bunch of stuff on my own that was essentially unique. And why should other coaches learn with me? Well, why can’t they learn from the kinds of methods and resources that I promote? Well, they couldn’t in the past due to my guilt at not being a so called and self-labelled ‘expert’ which has held me back for the last decade… See I’m just a teacher. But a ‘flaming’ good one.

So when I sat down and started to think about what this blog could be about, I was jolted again thinking about the fact that the best learners are the most humble, curious and giving. Indeed, rather than being solitary and closed, the great Shane Pill gave me some words and phrases on that day in early 2015 that set me on a path that I was never even thinking about. For example, I’m currently working on a book with someone Shane introduced me to: the ultimate in 'engagement', Dale Sidebottom. It will be much lighter on academic references than other things I’ve written on learning, but it will be rich in stories of learning through sharing and action.

Thus in closing dear peers, remain curious and never stop sharing, just like the great Shane Pill.

Yours in learning - Gunny!

By the way, Gunny and Dale Sidebottom are coming to UK and Ireland in September: 

1) What questions have you asked your sharing peers about the deeper meaning behind learning? 

2) How has this helped your own learning? 

3) When have you given yourself some dedicated time to stop, observe, and think??? 


email: (September UK and Ireland tour of learning 2019)

Again learning peers, I’m Gunny.  If you want these Blog Posts to your inbox send me a personal email on address above or other, and, I’ll start compiling an all-important ‘list’.

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‘Gunn Engagement - 365 Day Sharing Project’ was brought to you by, me Gunny, and superior learning vision is curated by my partner in learning Anthony O’Brien of AOB Media,

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Finally, “Kids learn teacher NOT subjects!”