Matteo Cianfrone – OCT, Physical Education Teacher and Soccer Coach

Matteo Cianfrone – OCT, Physical Education Teacher & Soccer Coach
About Matteo Cianfrone

Matteo Cianfrone is a second-year Health and Physical Education teacher at Bayview Glen. Being a Health and Physical Education teacher, as well as a high-performance soccer coach, Matteo explores the similarities and differences in both professions.

Along with sharing his motivations and journey through education, Matteo also shares a couple of fun and basic activities he uses to increase online engagement during these trying times.

Connect with Matteo: Email | Linkedin

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

Bayview Glen Independent School

St. Michael’s College School

Ryerson University

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Tabata Workouts for Students

Active Scavenger Hunts for Students – Be Creative!

The Transcript

**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.

Sam Demma (00:00):
Welcome to the High Performing Educator podcast. I’m your show host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Before we get into today’s awesome interview with another amazing educator, I have something of value that I wanna share. If you’ve ever struggled with teaching your students virtually, if you’ve ever struggled with getting them to turn their cameras on, I have have assembled all the information that I’ve learned and developed over the past six months of presenting to students virtually I’ve spoken at over 50 events since COVID hit back in March and I’ve taken my best tips, my gear list, and any special ninja tricks and assembled it all into a free five video mini course, you can go and get access to it right now www.highperformingeducator.com. And if you do pick it up, you will also get added to a private group of educators who tune into this show. People who have been interviewed on this show and you’ll have access to opportunities to network and meet like-minded individuals during this tough time.

Sam Demma (00:59):

So if that sounds like it might be helpful, go to www.highperformingeducator.com, grab the free course and get involved in the high performing educators. Network enough for me and onto the show. Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator. Today’s special guest is Matteo Cianfrone. Mateo is a second year health and physical education teacher at Bayview Glen Independent School. I had the pleasure of speaking to the school and we connected shortly thereafter being a health and physical education teacher, as well as a high performance soccer coach. Mateo explores the similarities and differences in both professions, especially in today’s interview, along with sharing his motivations and journey through our education. Mateo also shares a couple of fun and basic activities he uses to increase online engagement during these trying times. I hope you enjoy today’s episode and I will see you on the other side. Mateo, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and maybe how you got into the work you’re doing in education today.

Matteo Cianfrone (02:08):

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah. So my name is Matteo Cianfrone. I’m currently teaching at Bayview Glen in the prep school there. So how did I get started? I mean I mean, there’s always those individuals that kind of inspire you. I, and that’s kind of how it all started. You always have either a coach either a teacher or just a colleague. It could be a pastor, it could be a priest, it could be absolutely anybody that influences you and you kind of look back on these people and you’re like, wow, what they’re doing is really, really awesome. And not only does it influence you, but it also kind of guides you towards maybe something that you want to do in the future. So I think that that’s kind of work all started and that’s where self subconsciously, like I kind of really thought what they were doing was awesome. And I just wanted to kind of go through that myself.

Sam Demma (02:54):

Tell me more like who were those people? I know there is some specific names or?

Matteo Cianfrone (02:59):

Specific names, specific names. So, so I mean, I’ve had I’ve had a couple coaches coaches like Dave Bottabo coaches like Soupa other ones. I have had some great teachers. I went to St. Mike’s, so I’ve had some fantastic teachers like like Niko Romano. I had an English teacher, Stokes, that the way that he talked and the way that he just would be able to relate with individuals, it was unbelievable. And something that I always kind of geared towards and always tried to move towards. Yeah. So if I were to say some names off the top of my head, those are definitely ones that stick out.

Sam Demma (03:40):

You started kind of answering my, my follow up question, what was gonna be like, what did they do that made them such an impactful individual in your life, you know, from the coaching perspective and the, the classroom perspective?

Matteo Cianfrone (03:51):

Yeah, so honestly, I think one thing that I’ve always tried strived to do in that each of them did in their own a way they relatability. I think that to almost sell someone a message, you have to be able to relate to them. You have to be able to kind of meet them on their level and just, and just maybe converse with them in the way that they’re gonna understand. And the way that, you know, they’ll be able to just get at what you’re saying and buy into what you’re saying as well. There’s that saying? That goes, you know, some, some students are never gonna remember what you, what you taught them, but they’ll always remember how you make them feel. So that’s something that I’ve always kind of gravitated towards and always held onto and always tried to put forth every single day.

Sam Demma (04:38):

Nah, I love that. And then what about on the soccer field? Because I know you have a whole idea about coaching and it’s that, you know, coaching is like teaching, but with shorts on and cleats shorts on. Yeah. yeah. How has that had an impact on how you teach or on your idea of mentorship in teaching?

Matteo Cianfrone (04:54):

Okay. Well, yeah, I mean the great thing about, yeah, like I, yeah, it’s, it’s teaching with shorts on it’s inspiring others. It’s it’s, you know, kind of scaffolding you’re learning and it’s just a whole, they go hand in hand really. But the one thing that I’ve really had to like hold onto is that before they are like, at least with my, my, my players or they are athletes before they’re anything, they are individuals much like my students before they are, you know, before they’re people that are trying to get grades before, they’re the ones that are writing the test they’re individuals. So making sure that you’re always tending towards what they, you know, what they need in their life and stuff like that. That’s, that’s something that always relate to and then when it can comes to kind of, but there are like dissimilarities as well, right?

Matteo Cianfrone (05:45):

Like with, with coaching, I have to gear my, you know, what, let’s start actually with the teaching side of it, with teaching being a phys. ed. teacher, I’m just happy to sometimes just get them moving. I’ll get everyone from the world class athlete to the kid who just simply just does not want to do anything. Mm. So I have to, I have to kind of put my teaching cap on, cuz I’ll have my coaching and my teaching cap. And then my teaching cap will kind of be geared more towards how are they, are they enjoying them to else? Are they moving? And that’s kind of like the extent of am I, am I teaching them properly? Because if I try to, with my soccer team, it’s a little bit more competitive. Kids are trying to get scholarships, trying to kids are trying to get professional looks and stuff like that.

Matteo Cianfrone (06:32):

So I kind of can’t take the same approach as, as teaching, because if I start trying to make everything execution based and performance based in my classroom, I’m gonna lose all of my kids. Whereas if I take the almost more nurturing standpoint with my players, they might not be pushed enough. So it’s kind of like, again, I’m just using two different hats. I kind of have to put two to different masks on every single touch. I time to touch a pitch to every single time I go into the classroom. Right. So there are similar similarities and there are differences.

Sam Demma (07:09):

Yea, no, I think that was a great explanation. And then through your own journey back when you were going through, you know, high school and university at what did you make the decision that you wanted to be a teacher like mm-hmm where did that all come from?

Matteo Cianfrone (07:24):

So it all kind of started. So I, I went, like I explained earlier, I went to St. Michael’s College School, all boys, Catholic school and Toronto. And that was fantastic, but every single year we would actually have, so in high school you have to do 40 hours of community service. I think everybody remembers those 40 hours. Yeah. But at St Mike’s, we actually had to do 20 hours for our high school tenure. So for grade nine, you would have to do 20 hours for grade 10. You would have to do 20 in 11 and 12. You have to do 20 each as well. So that accumulate to be 80 hours. So we were also very fortunate at same mics to have two weeks of March break which is, you know, I, I was complaining at all. But the, the fantastic thing about that was that the first week you would kind of use to see friends and, and you know, just to catch up and maybe just take a little bit of relaxed time.

Matteo Cianfrone (08:13):

And then that second week was geared more towards, okay, let’s get some homework done. Let’s and I would actually use that for my community that week to kind of get some community service hours and nice. My cousin, Luca , he’s a music teacher. He and I was always kind of like, oh, teaching’s really cool, but never really been in a classroom. So I said, Hey, you know, Luca, do you mind if I come, I’ll help you photocopy, I’ll arrange the instruments. I’ll do whatever you got. You need me to do. Just gimme me some hours. It’ll give me it’ll it’ll two days will get me 16 hours. If I do a third day, I’ll get 24. That’s more than I need. And we can move forward from there. So it kind of started from there in grade nine, I did two days, got my hours and was pretty happy.

Matteo Cianfrone (08:57):

And then this next year after I said, Hey, Luca, do you mind if I do it again? He was like, absolutely. And then, so I just continued to grade 9, 10, 11, 12, and then almost all the way to the grade 12. He, he had me actually teaching a couple of lessons. I had a very, I had a very basic piano background. So I was able to teach a couple things, but I remember there was this one lesson. It had nothing to do with music at all. But it was I was just teaching students about, I don’t know, you’re maybe a little young, but back when I was growing up all those years ago, I’m 28 right now. And we were we, there was like tectonic that was huge and would dance and listen to this music. And then, so I did a little lesson in which I showed them different songs and we were all dancing together.

Matteo Cianfrone (09:42):

And I remember it was just so inspiring and just such a cool feeling being in front of that class and being able to relate to individuals and seeing their smiles and seeing sometimes their inquisitive looks and all this stuff. So that’s kind of what, where it started. And then after that, I kind of knew that I wanted to get into teaching, but not really went through Ryerson. Did English and history as my two teachables went to OISE was fortunate to fortunate enough to do my master teaching there and then just got kind of a lucky break. And here I am at Bayview Glen teaching phys. ed. fulltime.

Sam Demma (10:14):

Ah, it’s a phenomenal story. And when you were doing your masters of teaching, did you have a bunch of awesome teacher mentors? Like, were there a bunch of people in your life who were kind of pushing you down that path and helping you along the way? Absolutely.

Matteo Cianfrone (10:26):

No. Yeah. I had some, I had some really, really great mentors, but honestly I think the people that I was in my class with pushed me the most there was some unbelievable individuals that were in my class and that we would push each other. We would convene, we would talk, we would. And I mean, when you have a, something like your cohort, so you kind of stay with your cohort, your entirety of the it’s unlike any undergrad or anything like that, you stick with that group for the entire two years that you’re there and you just, just get so close with these individuals. Like if I were to name off a couple like Christopher I think in Victoria like there’s just there’s. Oh my gosh. There’s Caleb. There’s John there’s. Oh, I’m going through memory real . But yeah, there just some unbelievable individuals that, again, we were there for one another when with things outside of school, but a also when it came to school we were just so helpful. And so those are some of my favorite individuals that I’ve ever met is just being there. And I’m not sure it’s again, cuz of that relatability, but I also think it’s just, they’re just unbelievable people just in general. Yeah.

Sam Demma (11:32):

No, very cool. And you know, your journey or your jump or transition from finishing the masters into teaching. Yeah. How was that like, what were, what you, what was you, what you were expecting as your first year, did it fulfill expectations based on what you learned about in school? And what lessons did you learn from that experience? Getting the masters in, getting into teaching that you thought, wow, like this really helped me with my teaching?

Matteo Cianfrone (11:58):

Yeah. So I mean, they, they, they always say that you never really know, like everything’s just a lesson until you get into the classroom. So again, there’s a reason why they have those practicums. There’s a reason why they have that in class experience kind of sewed in throughout your entire my masters and what would be a lot of people’s bachelor of education. Because going from classroom to like, everything just sounds so beautiful and poetic even when you’re in class, but then once you go you’re oh, this is the nitty gritty. We’re kind of in the trenches right now. So was it a wake up call? Absolutely. My first, I remember my first kind of, not so much, this was still kind of in my masters, but my first practicum was definitely an eye opener a lot of nerves, but then as you do it, it’s just one of those things, you know, like with anything, whether it’s soccer, whether it’s anything you more practice and more how can I say, like more exposure to what you’re doing?

Matteo Cianfrone (12:56):

That, that kind of like just takes over. But I mean, I’ve also, I had a lot of confidence. I mean, I was coaching from when I was, so I was playing on the U 21 team and my club and I was like captain there. And then I was also, I was like, how else can I kind of get back to the club? So I was also coaching at the same time time. So even from 21 all the way to when I got my like first teaching gig, quote unquote, which was like 26, 27 I was coaching for about like six years and I was always in front front and center and I felt very comfortable. So I mean, as much as there was a little bit of a transition and there were those nerves and stuff like that of getting first class I kind of felt like I was at home ready. I felt yeah. At home. Exactly. Like I want to say that, but yeah, no, that’s exactly what it is. Is that you feel at home, you don’t feel uncomfortable, you just kind of feel, feel good in the skin you’re in kind of right.

Sam Demma (13:48):

Yeah. And I mean, you’re 28 now. So you you’ve been teaching for?

Matteo Cianfrone (13:52):

Two years, three years, but yeah, this is my second year at Bayview Glen.

Sam Demma (13:55):

Yeah. Phenomenal. And if you could go back to day one and give yourself advice that you’ve gained over the past two years, what would you tell your 26 year old self?

Matteo Cianfrone (14:06):

My gosh. Be, be a little, be a little kinder to yourself. Because I, I am my, I am my own worst critic and when things don’t work perfectly, I, I can really, like, some people will sit back and feel say, oh, you did a really great job. And I’m like, no, no I didn’t. And again, it’s just, and this year I’ve had to learn it more than ever was the lessons that you run. Aren’t gonna be perfect. A lot of people are teaching like this for the first time. So, I mean, just being just being very, almost compassionate with yourself and not being so critical and just, you know what, this is a learning experience, you know, it didn’t run as well. That’s okay. You know, for the next time, cuz I’m I’m cuz I could already tell you this being my second year, my first year it was, it was okay.

Matteo Cianfrone (14:52):

But this second year now I just feel a lot more comfortable just being, just letting it like one, you almost have like the, the, the rehearsal and now like now it’s just now with and easy. Right. And I’ve had some great people like Lori Hillis, Melanie Day in my, in my, in my group right now that are just helping me along the way. And I always say like, thank God for you individuals, cuz I would be nowhere . But but yeah, that’s kind of just be kinda to yourself, be kinder to yourself for sure. Yeah.

Sam Demma (15:22):

Great advice. And I know like we talked a week after the presentation that I did at Bayview Glen and you were mentioning that we talked a week after the presentation at Bayview, Glen. And you were mentioning I don’t know why I just had the thought now it’s totally escaping me. Yeah. let me, let me think about this.

Matteo Cianfrone (15:42):

So yeah, no, so I, so I emailed you cuz you, you did your presentation man. I was we were joking about how I was talking my with my administrative head and she and I was like this kid, like I’m always critical of guest speakers. I really am. Cause I’ve again, being in soccer and stuff like that. We hop people, come talk to our club and this and the other I’ve been to different schools and I’ve see guest speakers. And sometimes I’m like, oh they’re they’re okay. Like, you know, and then there’s some that just like are really great and you are awesome the way that you’re able to relate with the kids again, relatability. Like I really take a huge ownership of that. And again, I’m not sure if cuz you’re in soccer, I’m in soccer where you said, you know we can relate. But I think that you just had a gray way of interacting with individuals, even though it was just over over Zoom and stuff like that. But you did a great job and I, like I told you earlier, I like to give credit where it’s due and you did a fantastic job and keep going.

Sam Demma (16:40):

I appreciate that. Thanks for filling the gap there.

Matteo Cianfrone (16:44):

Nice plug. It’s a nice plug for you. Yeah.

Sam Demma (16:46):

What I was gonna say was in terms of relatability and teaching online, we had a, we had that conversation and you know, you, we did talk about that. You also mentioned that you’re doing some unique things to engage your kids virtually on Zoom that I thought were really cool and interesting. Yeah. Some activities at which I think would be worth sharing with other educators. So what are some of the things you’ve tried in terms of engaging your students on over Zoom or Google meets or whatever software another here listening might be using and what was the learning from doing that stuff?

Matteo Cianfrone (17:17):

Okay. So yeah, online was online learning and phys. ed. like, it’s just two things that you never think you would say in one sentence. And it’s kind of like a weird little paradox. I always go, whenever people ask me, how do you do phys. ed. online and you just do your best. So like I kind of started off with just doing workouts in front of the camera, right. Where I would do them. They, but then I couldn’t see what they were doing and all this stuff. So doing the workouts and them and just watching them do the workouts was great. But you also want to, like you said, kind of increase engagement and make it fun for them. Like I like you, like we’ve talked about earlier. It’s not about really getting the best performing. It’s just like getting them moving and getting them out there and getting them doing stuff.

Matteo Cianfrone (17:59):

So little things that I would do is like fun day Fridays in which I would introduce a game of who wants to be a Phatillionaire and who wants to be a Phatilionaire is basically multiple choice. If you think, if who wants to be a millionaire, it’s multiple choice questions and based on the answer, so if you answer oh, what is Sam’s last name? It’s Demma, Joe, Smith and whatever. Right? And then if you get the right answer, then you do, or if you get a, if you chose a, then you do workout one. If you chose B, then you do workout two, three, and four. And it was just a little PowerPoint that I made. And I, in the background, I have the, the jeopardy music going on and it’s yeah, it’s a whole fun thing. And I mean, again, it’s just trying to increase engagement.

Matteo Cianfrone (18:43):

Then there’s another thing that again, Lori Hillis gave me a fantastic kind of template of a scavenger hunt, which you’re just going, their kids are going around the house and they’re trying to find different items and then they would do different workouts with that item. So for example, it’s go into your pantry and grab a jar of tomatoes and then do five reps with that jar of tomatoes. Now go to your wall go to a, a wall that is two feet. I don’t know. So like something crazy. And then you can do a wall sit on that wall. And again, it doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous. It doesn’t have to be anything too too intense, but again, just getting them, just walking around their house is, is much better than them just maybe watch something or or anything like that.

Matteo Cianfrone (19:29):

We’ve had to workouts. So we’ll do tabata workouts often and then we’ll also have them make their own tabata workouts and send it to the class and then everybody will do their workout that they just did. And it’s really, really, so again, we’ve kind of jumped outside of comfort zone. So I mean, COVID has been a blessing and a curse in that way that we’ve, we’ve been forced to think outside the box. It’s almost a, like in soccer, whenever you put a stipulation on something, it’s like, okay, I only play with your left. Right. Only one, two, like only two touches. So only in those moments when you’re pressured like that, can you sometimes make a diamond, right. So we’ve been able to to kind of create some pretty cool things out of this, which, which I think everyone’s enjoyed and hopefully yeah, somebody, somebody can definitely borrow that if you ever want it, like, I could send you my, who wants to be Aire stuff. I have no problems that, I mean, I it’s all about sharing. Right? Yeah. And that’s what teaching’s all about, I think is sharing. And I, I always say that, like, I’m almost like a combination of so many different teachers within one person. Right. Mm-Hmm, like, you’re just kind of borrowing and, and, and same with coaching. It’s just the exact same concept.

Sam Demma (20:35):

Yeah. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel at all. If the resources already exist, just, you know, find them and share them. Mm-Hmm when it comes to the past couple months with COVID, I’m sure there is moments where you’ve got outta bed and instead of being like, yeah, another day you were like another day. Yeah. how did you motivate yourself in those moments? I know a lot of educators listening have had those moments this year, or what do you do in those moments to honor yourself and your feelings and try and get your back on track to show up fully for your kids.

Matteo Cianfrone (21:11):

So I, it sounds corny, but it’s like, just think of the children, you know, , I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s, I’ve been very fortunate enough that we I’ve grown up with some great teachers. I’ve grown up with some great opportunities. and these kids, the like some, like I had a pretty seamless upbringing, and I couldn’t imagine if I were them in this situation, what this would be like. Mm. So if I’m able, again, being a Phys. Ed. teacher, I’m so lucky that like a lot of the stuff we do is fun inherently. Like it’s not. So if I’m able to get up and show them the day of their life, like that’s kind of what I’m aiming towards to do it. Then, then maybe, then maybe I made it that much better for that individual. Right. And that’s, that’s something that’s definitely pushed me throughout this. It’s just making sure their experience, even at the roughest times right now is hopefully like something that they’ll always remember. And that’s kind of, what’s caught me up in the morning for sure.

Sam Demma (22:19):

Man. That’s awesome. I love that. I think I’m the same way when it comes to trying to stay motivated. I find that when you tie other people into your goals and aspirations, it no longer is only about you and that kind of drives you, when you don’t feel like doing stuff. Phenomenal. This is a great conversation. Thank you so much for, for doing this. If someone does wanna reach out to you, ask you about your fatilionaire exercise, how you ran the scavenger hunt, or just have a conversation with, with you and borrow some of your good energy, what would, what would be the best way for them to reach out to you?

Matteo Cianfrone (22:53):

So the best way is so my number is no, I’m kidding. I’m not gonna get that. But my email is mcianfrone@bayviewglen.ca. Wow. I can’t believe I’m so happy. I just got that, right. Like that was like, wow. I surprised myself. Okay. Thank God. That’s probably the best way. I’m always on that email. And if I don’t answer in a day or two, I’ll definitely answer as soon as I can. And you, yeah, I think that’s probably the best way. And then if you guys wanna have even more conversations, then I could probably give you the number then. But I don’t want, I don’t want my students hearing this and then prank calling me. That’s the only, that’s the only thing, right?

Sam Demma (23:40):

Yea no, it’s funny you say that literally two weeks ago, I spoke at a school out in Port Hope a year ago, and two weeks ago I got 15 phone calls, one Saturday night saying, hi, this is pizza pizza from St. Catherine’s. Hi, this is pizza pizza from, and, and people were calling pizza, pizza places, ordering a pizza, using my 1-800 number and then having them call me to pay for it. And I felt so bad. I’m like, no, I don’t know. I don’t know. Who’s calling. I’m sorry. I apologize. But I didn’t know how to know pizza. I know I’m Italian, but I have enough for my Nunu. Yeah. Anyway, I thought that was funny. You mentioned that. So that’s very funny. I thought I’d end on that. No, but material, thank you so much again for doing this. It was a pleasure.

Sam Demma (24:17):

And I look forward to staying in touch. Yeah, of course, man. Thanks so much for this. This is awesome with your day. Appreciate it. And there you have another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating in review. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you wanna meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.