Back to School Night is probably found in every school in every country, possibly you call it something different at your school. It is the night where parents are invited to come into the school and informally meet teachers and receive information about what their children will be covering in their courses in the academic year. What I am interested in knowing is how Physical Education teachers use this night to showcase their PE programme.
Last year was my first year at YIS and I didn’t want to make major changes, I went with the flow of the department and looked at what other departments were doing to keep things similar for parents. However this year I plan to make some changes as I want primarily to educate parents into seeing the the PE programme has developed way beyond what they experienced as students at school. I believe the biggest battle at the moment that PE faces are the memories etched into the minds of our parents (and colleagues) – the ones that centre around either being super athletes and so expecting that others will have very fond memories of being really good at a specific sport OR the opposite, the one where the PE teacher made the students run cross country in the rain while they drank coffee in the warm staff room or shouted on the side lines to “hurry up”.
There has been a lot written about these topics in recent years, but I guess I wanted to share what we are doing at YIS this year to try and make PE visible not a rehash of what is assumed content or learning in our subject. This is the single most important chance to get our parents on board, at the start of the year, when learning is alive and full of excitement and a place for us to really explain/share what happens in our classes.
Parents receive a hand out about what we ‘do’ in our curriculum, I have tried hard this year to steer away from the usual units ‘- basketball, soccer etc. and to work back into frameworks eg. invasion games or net games and then instead of tying units into these, to give the major concepts that we will be studying:
eg. Invasion Games – Communities and Leadership
My hope is that we can start to engage with parents about how we are teaching the concepts such as Communities and Leadership through various sporting opportunities (eg Invasion Games) and that our subject is about teaching life concepts through activity – fitness for life – and so we see the multi-faceted approach. I don’t really care if you can play basketball or not, what I want you to do while playing though is work in a team, have experience of leadership and of supporting other leaders, to problem solve, to plan, to design strategies and test them out and reflect on your learning and to enjoy your learning. Assessments should naturally attach themselves to these learning opportunities and not be an added extra or burden to your learning. This is the great part about teaching PE.
I am hoping by showcasing the concepts we hope to study in the year and adding some of the conceptual questions we ask students in these units, that the conversation with parents will be more about the non-sport related learning rather than the questions about ‘when will they learn lay-ups?’ or ‘what shoes do they need for PE?’ and so the myth about the jock PE teachers might also start to be dispelled.
What are you doing on your Back to School nights? Are you advocating for Concept driven PE?