Meaningful PE has become an area of focus for me this year. I feel that as a more experienced PE teacher that I have an opportunity to now delve into thinking and creating learning intentions that are about offering students the chance to make Movement meaningful beyond doing for assessment or just for doing’s sake. I have been yo-yo-ing backward and forward around the idea of how to be more Meaningful in PE and how to make experiences in PE more meaningful.
Recently a class of my MS students completed a Tripod 7C’s survey about me and their experiences in my PE class. I waited with anticipation for the results. I admit that once they came, I had more questions than answers, but perhaps this is normal when you get feedback! I feel that I engage in my own Professional Learning very heavily and work hard to be inclusive and offer learning experiences that are valuable for my students, but what I read was that I do this Averagely across the domains. The image above does have some areas that are stronger (Caring, Class Management, Confer and Captivate) and some that need to be thought about and new applications tried and tested to be stronger (Challenge, Consolidate and Clarify). I found it hard to acknowledge that students at my school find my work Average. I am still feeling this and although this is only one piece of data it has had the effect of me scratching my head as I consider what to do with this information and channel my energy for professional development this year.
The day after these results arrived, I decided I would Challenge a class of students to see if what I saw as Challenging and what they saw as Challenging correlated or not. I believe that many of my students believe that they are much more able and skilled in Motor Competency than they actually are (when looking at their Fundamental skills and their Gameplay awareness and execution) and these conversations are always interesting for me as we try and look at data to support our viewpoints.
In my G6 class, I ran a Mini-volleyball lesson (5th out of our 6 lessons). I set out levels of skills and had them work with a ball each to work through skills in a progressional way. (ex. Level 1 was to Throw the ball up in the air/ clap 5 times and catch it again above their head x 10 times without making a mistake. Level 2 was to Throw the ball up in the air/ Set to self (ball staying above the head, elbows close, fingers wide etc) and then Catch the ball x 8 times without making a mistake.) We added on and added on until no-one could do even one repetition of the Level that was set. I deliberately didn’t give them enough time for success and I gave lots of feedback to them about how they were going making it clear that they were doing a fabulous job of persevering but that they were not meeting the target set. It was chaotic and I felt it was hard – clearly, it was as no-one could get to the top Level I had set (by far). We then played modified games and I had different players and teams have different modifications that were very hard for them to be successful and required a lot of negotiation and for games to not be in flow as they were constantly stopping because they couldn’t play at that required level.
I then put a Question on the board (Was this Lesson Challenging for you?) And offered them three sentence starters:
- Yes… because…
- sort of… I found ______ challenging but ______ easy.
- No. I nailed it….. because……
I then had them think/ Pair and Share this out and then we used a thumbs up to show me which starter they had shared. Thumbs up for Nailing it, thumbs to the side for Sort of and thumbs down for Yes it was Challenging! I asked them to be honest as this was good feedback for me to choose appropriate Challenging content for our next lesson. Overwhelming the class felt they had either Nailed it or Sort of. Only two people told me it was too hard. I was shocked. Where had I gone wrong here? How did we see that this was beyond them in every way??
As I work around making PE more Meaningful, I would like to consider how I:
- Define the word Challenge (in our PE environment) and how we talk about the Zone of Challenge (Proximal Development) or the Tension that you can create with Challenge so that the lessons and activities and learning opportunities are Challenging for each student but that they are able to acknowledge what Challenges them and how they could choose more risk or less risk based on the activities we are doing. This could include:
- Being much more specific (Clarify) what is expected so that students can Challenge to meet that or exceed that or know that they have not met that expectation (yet) and be thoughtful about HOW they can take the next steps to be successful.
- Challenging my super strong Athletes beyond asking them to take on more responsibility (as coaches or leaders) but to play more skilfully or with more knowledge or to extend themselves (they could plan this out – how would they like to be challenged?) to progress in their Motor Competency.
- Being more mindful and planning more explicit activities students who are learning or experiencing a game or sport or activity for the first time to see their growth but not feel overwhelmed by the Challenge ahead.
- Social Interaction – Be mindful of how we group teams and how I choose activities that consider social students, students who prefer learning alone or in pairs and those who find social interaction very hard
- Record my lesson plans and notes to consider my EAL or Learning Support students
- Poll the students or ask for their input and advice, make my observations and offer feedback as data collected on my class and our combined efforts to work at being Challenged!
I would like to:
- Meet with other stakeholders (Learning Support, Language specialists) to be more aware and mindful of the needs of some of my students and be more explicit in my intentions when planning and setting appropriate work
- Have more back-up plans in my toolkit (injured, sick or unable to do the activity plans)
- Set up a Warm-up routine that works in a variety of situations/locations/spaces that allows my students to begin class as they arrive that provides Choice and Challenging activities they can begin with so that I can check in on students as they arrive in small groups
- regularly Define Challenge with my students in new units and activities from different lenses for scaffolding conversations about Risk, Grit, Failure and Appropriate Challenge
- Find resources to Challenge my very able students and make time to determine how to best move them forward in their journeys
- Continue to converse with parents and coaches about students who I feel should be in teams or activities and be more mindful of what my students enjoy and are good at to pursue this as an avenue for Challenge and confidence building
- Challenge myself to a higher standard – I will Coach a new sport and work with much more experienced coaches to better understand Challenge in a new context and from my own angle as a learner
@Imsporticus has told me to be singular and to consider a question or statement to focus my attention. I always want to do more than I can. I think most teachers do.
Guiding Principle around Challenge
Currently, I believe that Challenge is necessary and needs to be appropriate for the journey of each student. Appropriate Challenge will (hopefully) grow us to be more confident, improve our motor competence, have fun and potentially grow our social networks and learn more about ourselves in the process. Challenge is a part of a journey, with each student starting where they arrive and moving forward. Challenge is different for everyone and I must listen to my student’s feedback and not assume my way is best or the only way. Students may fail as part of this journey. Appropriate Challenge will help build them as resilient, problem solving young people with grit and determination.
More to add here. Feedback and comments are always helpful.