Initial sharing on Twitter and Voxer of the issue I was facing in my G6 Soccer/ Football/ Invasion class.
Last week after a stellar Shape Boston conference week, I had a problem. I had changed to looking at Invasion with one of my G6 classes and specifically a soccer focus lesson. This amazing group of students had really been working hard with focus on Empathy and Integrity and I couldn’t believe it when a group of boys playing a specific Teaching Games for Understanding style game blew out with some physical pushing and then shouting between several of the boys.
We had made our lesson objectives explicit – that we needed to work with positive intent and we had to be creating a Fun experience for all of us – and it was clear that this wasn’t working for the students in this group. I immediately went to the boys and calmly asked What we could do to make this game more Fun? And avoided blaming students or asking leading questions. The conversation was heated but with me pointing this out to students, we went to quiet voices and I asked the boys to think about their words. I know that I could have done this better, but I always panic a bit when conflict arrives.
The boys were upset as they felt some amongst them were being too competitive and physical and they were unhappy with the way the were treating the others in our group. These two particular students agreed with the group, they wanted to be more competitive and were upset that others were calling them out. We brainstormed some solutions and then the two boys decided they would go and play 1 on 1 at the small goal and the other 6 boys played their game without further incident.
At the end of the lesson everyone left happy. I followed up with the boys in their next lesson but there was only smiley faces as they entered and started Science and their teacher reported no issues. But I was wracked with failure – what had happened in this class that would lead my very empathetic and amazing kids to find conflict in a sport that they clearly all love and play a lot of outside in break time or weekend recreational time? I jumped onto Voxer and Twitter to see if anyone had some ideas or support.
Within 24 hours of my initial tweet and vox I was inundated with support from my network. I am here to tell you that social media for professional sharing and learning is outstanding. I had University lecturers offer me advice and evidence about different styles of learning and social awareness; I had a different lecturer ask if I wanted to Skype to talk it over and see if there were some ideas he could offer. I had a conversation about the pitfalls of soccer in MS and curriculum conversations that are a good insight into how others use Soccer in their program. This was a great place for sharing and there were 5-6 people who jumped in to share or offer advice.
I had a number of people in one Vox Chat (TGfU) come in and offer advice and resources for looking at how to engage students and use different games, strategies and sports to see if that would offer me some support or further ideas. I had emails from some in the network and I followed up to get more support and resources as I reflected on content as well as social and emotional growth and scaffolding.
I had one mentor just write and ask me how I was doing – with no set advice, but more an opportunity for me to reflect more deeply with an open ended question that allowed me to really process rather than look for resources. I needed to find the root of my students conflict and then to work to offer opportunity to remove that conflict or to help them problem solve without vilifying students in the group. I still want our lessons to be Fun and for them to play with integrity and empathy but I also want everyone to play without feeling overwhelmed or frustrated (or if they do to have a way to resolve or work through this).
My next lesson was very busy – no time for students to get off-task and we were set activities that asked them to work against time or themselves which took some pressure off of our team experiences. We also brainstormed out the rules we wanted to use in some small sided games and agreed on code of conduct – again helpful!
I wanted to thank everyone who contributed in any way to my reflection and action process. I cannot tell you how grateful I was for your time and expertise and the way in which you so quickly jumped in to help me. I am indeed a very lucky PE person to have such an amazing network.