It was freezing cold, there was light rain and a harsh wind blew over the bottom Rugby pitch.
Twenty two, eleven year old boys – Seven Rugby balls, Seven tackle pads.
Muddy faces, soaking socks, grass stained PE polos.
Smiles on faces, encouraging cheers and laughs all around.
I don’t know about you, but I still remember my first PE lesson in Secondary School…
Fun, Enjoyment and Physical Activity
It was all about enjoyment, fun and challenge. This is something I have taken and never forgotten. Every PE lesson should be fun and interesting. So often recently PE lessons have diverted away from ‘actual physical activity’. Our subject allows us to guide and challenge pupils through different experiences that they don’t get inside a classroom. We need to keep it engaging with high activity levels. I understand that practitioners are trying to tick boxes and jump through hoops but PE is PE, its physical and needs to stay that way. Self-assessment, peer-assessment, video analysis, etc, etc. can all be included in lessons that are for the most part active. It is essential that we get pupils’ heart’s beating faster than usual, we need to challenge them in competitive situations. When it’s managed well pupils love it. A student doesn’t have to be technically gifted to enjoy physically active competition, that very pupil could be inspired by teamwork, problem-solving, success and positive feedback. That’s the effect we need to have.
Decisions for life
I am a passionate believer that we need to make sure each and every pupil is taught how to make correct decisions for a healthy and active life. Talking from personal experiences in my present school; the obesity and non-participation rate in PE, sport and exercise in Qatar is disastrous. Something has gone terribly wrong. It pains me to see young children struggle to carry their bags from class to class. Some pupils are not participating in PE because of the way they look. Each and every child matters. It is vital that we encourage, motivate and re-ignite the flame of those who have lost confidence or dislike the subject. The importance of what our subject offers has to be promoted to every child. Sometimes the impression of PE is just; ‘Sir, are we playing matches?’ or ‘Do we have to do swimming?’ – PE as a subject, you all know, is much more than that. I’m a firm believer that diet, exercise, training and performance should all be discussed and taught from the very earliest stages of a pupils PE life. They need to understand the effects and benefits exercise and participation in sport can have on the rest of their lives.
The whole child – holistic development
Physical Education should allow all pupils to develop physically, it should enable pupils to develop confidence and independence. Key life skills such as leadership, communication, problem solving and team work are all attributes that should be integral to every child’s PE journey . I believe PE is crucial when considering the development of a child’s social, emotional, creative and cognitive skills. Our subject is a great vehicle for reaching the wider aims of the National Curriculum (if not beyond the curriculum) and so it is important to enable all pupils with as much opportunity and experiences to develop these skills.
Learning for me is a term that has been given so many definitions and has the ability to be tracked in so many different ways. Learning in PE should be kept as simple as possible. Over a scheme or unit of work, does the pupil have the ability to do something new or something differently at the end. EASY. This doesn’t have to be a particular sporting technique, this could be the ability to ask relevant questions to guide their learning. It could be that the pupil has developed much better communication skills. An older pupil may have developed some exceptional leadership skills. Has the pupil developed an attribute or skill that meets the aim of our curriculum. SIMPLE. We can give pupils numbers, letters, traffic light colours, whatever you like… but essentially, at the end of a lesson, if a pupil can do, understand, explain, illustrate something they couldn’t at the start, that is learning. Every lesson should have a purpose, no matter how it’s structured or what its content is, it should have an objective that all pupils are aware of. If each and every pupil has made an effort at achieving that outcome, that is learning. Pupils are human, like all humans we become successful and understand things at different times. As long as their learning journey is productive that’s all we can ask for.
The general bits and bobs…
I like to plan high quality lessons, with high quality expectations. If you aim high and think the world of your pupils, they will do the same for you. Well that’s what I was taught by a great lecturer of mine.
I like to talk, be friendly, smile… let the kids get to know the team you support, your favourite band. There is nothing wrong with that, it develops a positive pupil-teacher relationship. Be assertive when they cross the line, but finding a similar ground makes teaching so much easier.
Extra-curricular activities, fixtures, tournaments, etc. Do as much as you physically and mentally can. The pupils really appreciate it and it can be so rewarding. I feel I have to stay behind at school almost every day to watch the activities, even if it isn’t my club, I will be there supporting and chatting to the pupils.
I like to make learning as relevant as possible by using recent sporting events/fixtures to pose as questions or discussion, I like to use technology to engage pupils. It’s constantly developing, so must our practice.
Well, I hope I have been able to share some of my views of PE with you. Obviously I am certain these will change over the next couple of years but as a relatively new teacher I feel our subject has so much to offer and we need to ensure the traditional values of PE are met with modern and engaging teaching techniques to enable the future generations to be equipped with skills for life and ensure that they make correct decisions about being healthy and active.