Happy New Year fellow teachers of PE.
The new year is a time for resolutions and is full of grand new plans. Rather than formulate and implement those plans, why don’t you try a challenge instead? A challenge is a test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking.
Over the next 8 weeks, every weekend, I will offer you a challenge for the following week. These challenges will come from other teachers, researchers, academics and coaches and take on different formats. You can try one, try the ones you like, or try them all. The hope is that it will stimulate thought about your practice, your pupils understanding and their learning and potentially change them for the better.
PE Challenge No. 1: Talk to every child in a class about their physical activity over Christmas.
You may want to just pick one class you teach this week, or every class.
Get a clipboard of their names and then try by the end of the lesson to ask every single child about the type and amount of activity they did over Christmas. Tick them off as you go and make some notes of their responses.
I know this will be time consuming, but you can do this as they arrive as a way of greeting, whilst they are changing, whilst walking to facilities and on the way back when getting ready for the next lesson.
During lessons there are natural breaks and pauses, use these times to engage in conversations with your pupils.
The ultimate aim for Physical Education is to ensure the child is healthy and active, beyond school and for life.
PE teachers are natural talkers, and can often dominate conversation, by giving answers and telling students what to do or how to improve.
How often do you engage in conversation with children about their lifestyle out of class?
You could ask them the following questions: Did you play any sport in the holidays? Did you participate in any new activities or ones that you learnt last term? Did you do anything active with you family like walking or cycling? Did you do anything active that was new or you were proud of?
Simple conversations starters like this will hopefully open dialogue about their health and their activity. It will give you a deeper understanding of your students lifestyle outside of school. It also means you can personalise your advice on a healthy and active lifestyle to them.
It may help you to link what you are doing in that lesson to being healthy, and the importance of being active. It will help check their understanding of what it means. The information they offer, if you listen, could help with your planning for future lessons. It may allow you to provide the pupil possible information about extra-curricular or out of school clubs that could support their interests.
Sometimes as PE Teachers we can become so focused on outcomes within the lesson, like improving technique, understanding tactics or developing physical fitness, we and therefore the children, can forget the bigger picture. Talking about what they do out of lessons, within class time, may encourage more regular activity. The least it will do is get them thinking about it. This simple challenge particularly after a excessive time like Christmas, but at any time of the year, can bring some direction and emphasis back to that overall aim.
If you decide to accept the challenge, I would love you to share your thoughts. Did it help your teaching or your pupils learning in anyway? What were the outcomes of the challenge, both positive and negative?
You can either post your response to this blog.
Or on Twitter direct to me at @imsporticus
Or on Twitter with the hashtag #pechallenge and I shall collate them.
Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you.