Earlier in our year we had a PD visit from Steve Barkley who is well known around the traps as a huge advocate for Peer Coaching and truly believes that this is the only way to move forward. I didn’t need to be convinced, I really do enjoy collaborative planning and teaching, so long as the people that I am working with are of a simliar mind set and are willing to work for the product/reward of the collaboration. I find that team teaching can be such a great learning curve and allows us the opportunity to be confronted with our own teaching fears but to also share great ideas but also to let people give you guidance where you may need some assistance – it all should balance out! And so in the spirit of our new staff focus – peer Coaching – I asked a new UNIS PE teacher, Mr Simon Mills if he would be willing to work together on a G7 unit. Simon is a very experienced coach and sort after PE teacher and we are very lucky to have him working here with us. I quickly sort his assistance and expertise in peer coaching and we quickly established that we are both very excited by the ipads and what we could do with them and it has been great to discuss different ways of teaching and learning and how we can work on this with ICT in PE. We have drawn great inspiration from the #pegeeks on Twitter and also through Mr Robbo and his very forward thinking approach and blog. I am looking forward to greater collab with Simon next year as we trial more projects together.
Our Badminton unit was a great success in a number of ways, firstly we set very challenging goals and wrote a level based system where we were asking the students to work through a series of 30 different levels based on the reading and research we had done into Badminton and the fundamental skills essential for good court play. We wanted to keep the students’ cardio fitness up as well as work on their hand-eye coordination and shot and serve accuracy and so we really tested the kids in a variety of ways. We used formative assessment through about 7 of the levels to gauge progress and asked the students to keep an excel spreadsheet with their level work progress. We worked on the central concept of ‘Mastering a skill’ and so the students’ had to prove proficiency by being able to show up to 20 skills in a row to pass a set level (can you scoop up and catch 20 birds in a row on your racket?) and this proved to be extremely powerful in getting students to realise the time, effort and mind game of mastering a skill. We then used evaluation at each lesson, having student’s work in pairs to evaluate certain skills and tag the consistency of use of these skills in game situations. This proved to be very valuable as students realised that they weren’t transferring their level work, and we had to discuss the active brain game play and really emphasise good technique and form in games and not reverting to their original game play. Students set small lesson-sized goals for game skill improvement and shared them with us and their partner for that lesson; we got more feedback and measured their relative successes before setting new targets. Simon and I worked hard to create a really strong individual work ethic in students; they struggled initially with not having a teacher stand over them all the time, and this was a new concept for some of them and they didn’t truly realise the importance of this until later in the unit. The wonderful thing was watching some of our less able sports students’ set themselves up with achieving small level goals and meeting success and on the other hand having to console very strong athletic students when they failed a level at a formative assessment – a new concept for many of them. This unit still has flaws that we will get to revisit next year as we go back to Badminton but it was so wonderful to work with a clear minded colleague on a new concept for G7 and to work hard to give our student’s a new concept – working hard and what that takes to master a skill.
I am really looking forward to greater team teaching and collaboration after this process. I have already asked Mr Brendan McGibbon, who teaches Music, and is passionate about student reflection and higher level thinking (he would hate for me to use that phrase, but it sums it up) about working together next year on how we can start to drawer greater things from our students when we evaluate our work (formatively and summatively). I am excited about this collaboration and will share as we formulate our ideas.
It was a great experience working with you Mel. We had an idea about a concept of skill mastery when we started, and were not too sure how we could implement it without boring the kids or taking away their natural joy at playing badminton. I really feel you did a fantastic job and showed just what could be achieved, not only in terms of improving their badminton skills but developing their awareness that mastery of a skill involves more than natural talent.