Shifting tide

I have just read and spent time digesting @Sporticus’s post on ‘Endling‘ which is a very good read about the shifting tide of non-PE teacher coaches and the dwindling number of them in schools.  Over the last 3 years I have been happily teaching at Yokohama International School and there are a few things that I have really become aware of after working in this job.

YIS is a small private school, our students are about 30% Japanese and then probably another 20% have one Japanese parent, and the rest are ex-pat from all over the globe.  We are housed on a tiny campus and with our 650 or so students, we have an outside playground, then down the road we have a basketball sized gym and a tiny futsal turf and then a multi purpose room that just fits 22 students in it to do some fitness or dance work.

I share an office with the Athletic Director and the PE team, and we work hard in these spaces.  At the beginning of my time here, all the PE folk were expected to Coach two seasons in the year.  We are paid extra for this and we get stipend to travel with the teams to tournaments outside of our area.  There are also a lot of non-PE teachers who coach.

There are a few observations that I would like to share as I think it is important for Educators and those who do the hiring to consider as we move into a new age of PE.

PE teaching has become more and more academic.  There are assessments to front load, to then take and then to grade.  Even with my department focused heavily on “less is more” and “tiny tasks” over massive ongoing assessments, this still equates to a lot of observation, formative tasks, interviewing students, video analysis and feedback and some written work along the way.  We are language teachers, with the need to work with the English and EAL department to front load important vocabulary; we work with Learning Support to ensure our students are successful across all learning constraints and needs.  It feels like we are always assessing, moderating, creating and ensuring that our students learning is foremost (as should all teachers).

Then, we are involved in Professional Development – through our department, through our divisions, year groups and across the school as well as beyond into the global network.  We are also involved in organising and running Sports Days in the curriculum and writing reports and grading student work to share with parents.  We are asked to run student activities outside of class time and to be involved in Elementary activities as well.  We are fun!  So we are invited to be a part of any student activity or lunch time extra, and we do because we love our students and want them to be successful in their projects.

The Coaching at YIS is a full class load.  So when you are coaching a season, this adds effectively another class to your load.  The issue for us is not the extra time with students, we all enjoy this amazing addition to our lives.  The issue is that for us, we haven’t enough space. So we have to travel to practice and to a lot of games.  This is where you see added time.

I agree with @Sporticus that we must be very thankful to all teachers who are involved in coaching and that it is becoming less and less as we see more requirements of teachers and less people being involved in this.  As school’s involve more academic preparation and performance aspects and as we see Community Service as well as other projects come up that we need to be involved in, the Coaching can become too much of a time commitment.

Our HS students practice 3 afternoons a week and this can be fine if you are on campus, but to travel 15-40 mins to the venue, then train for 2 -3 hours and then travel back to school, this eats up so much time.   I am not sure this is the right amount of time for our students either.

Being an Athletic Director can be so difficult and challenging if you don’t have the staff to take on the coaching of running of cornerstone activities either.  How do you keep up the commitments to that league or tournament if you don’t have the coaches to staff them or the resources to make them effective for your students?

I know that being on a team and having a vibrant, centred and committed coach is so important as a student.  I learnt a lot from my various coaches, and as a coach I want to make sure the Season is a journey of growth and development for all players.  But I also want it recognised that there is a lot going on in school and that to be asked to add more and more on all levels means somewhere something has to give.  I see less people coming into coach than I used to, and I am not sure there is one solution but rather we need to see more investigation into this to keep our students coming out for more.

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