I have been thinking about this quite a lot recently, and yet again I have been switching between my ‘teacher hat’ and ‘coaches hat’. It is now time to share my thoughts after a solid 6 week block of hockey work in a primary school, which has allowed me to make some interesting observations that has shaped my opinions.
As mentioned in some of my previous blogs, it is now more important than ever that we spark an interest in physical activity for children at a young age, if we are to see them carry this on into adulthood. That been said, I have been really paying attention to how much I stop and correct a whole class/individuals this half term because I am wary of putting them off.
As a child I played in many sports and LOVED physical activity both in and out of school. However, when at my local club or in PE sessions, if I was corrected on more than one occasion, or the coach consistently stopped play to make a point, my reaction was one of annoyance. I just wanted to PLAY! For somebody who is less interested in sport than I was, I feel this could be a real put off and disengage them greatly.
My coaches hat – Now, from my coaching perspective, I want to correct technique. It is my duty to observe players, improve their performance and have them enjoy the session at the same time. The key difference here is that when coaching in an ‘out of school’ setting, most children have made a conscious decision to attend and WANT to be there. Therefore they are more likely to have a mind-set that is willing to accept intervention. When I was coaching for Brazilian soccer schools, I could stop and correct at any time without worry of dampening their enthusiasm because of the desire the children had to become better players.
My teacher hat – Of course, school is compulsory, as is PE. All children have not made a conscious decision to be in a PE lesson, they HAVE to be. The make-up of the group is completely different as are their interests. Children are very impressionable at primary school age and I want to instil enthusiasm and engagement for all children in my lessons. I want them to enjoy being physically active and not put them off. If I see a child holding a hockey stick incorrectly I want to intervene and correct. If this continues then I may correct again. But if this is a persistent thing over the same lesson and even weeks, how far can I push it without ‘putting them off’? Perhaps at this stage it is better to let them explore using their own technique if it means they are getting more enjoyment out of the session?
I have taken a greater step back this half term and allowed children to explore more. I have corrected and taught correct technique early on, but if it persists, I let them explore and simply enjoy the experience. I liken this to my role as a classroom teacher and teaching literacy. If I stood over some of my ‘weaker’ writers and ‘intervened’ every time a letter was formed incorrectly or a word spelled wrong, then their flow would be halted, confidence shaken, and in turn, enjoyment of literacy and writing reduced. In this scenario I would intervene and then allow them to continue writing (exploring). I suppose the difference here is that I would mark the books afterward and this would then allow for detailed written feedback, highlighting the area for improvement. Perhaps I need to think more about a similar feedback system in PE for after lessons.
Overall, this is a fine juggling act. You have to find a balance as a teacher. Skills must be taught and corrected. It is up to the teacher to gauge their children to decide who can accept this intervention regularly and who just needs to be left to explore at their own pace and enjoyment. My opinion is that enthusing the children is of the utmost importance at this stage, and if that means easing up on the ‘coaching’ (as difficult as I find this) then I’m prepared to do it for now.
I would love to hear the thoughts of the PE Umbrella community and how you approach this scenario.
Click HERE to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes!