Having recently read ‘The 4-hour work week’ by Timothy Ferris, I stumbled upon this gem of a quote:
“Many a false step was made by standing still.”
I see many primary teachers ‘particularly with PE’ doing exactly that, ‘Standing still’ and this is down to a number of reasons. It has inspired me to create this list of PE tips for teaching primary with the hope that they help serve a greater good to many teachers out there who are at this moment feel like they are stood still.
Be Enthusiastic – This is something that I have mentioned time and again in my previous blogs and podcasts but I can’t over emphasise the importance of this enough. If we, as teachers, are to inspire the next generation to enjoy physical activity and know how to lead healthy lifestyles, we are the front line in schools. For lots of children, PE in school is the only real physical activity and sport they will do; so let’s make it a memorable experience. If we are enthusiastic about what we are teaching and ‘appear to be enjoying it’ then the children are more likely to do so. Of course, PE isn’t everybody’s ‘thing’, but if you let your children in on this, then I think you would be doing them a disservice (as with every other subject in the curriculum). Sometimes we have a greater impact on our children than we think and they hang on every word we say or action we take. So let’s show enthusiasm for all that we do, especially our PE lessons.
TIP ONE: Be Enthusiastic
Confidence – I realise fully that this is easier said than done. However, if there is one thing I have learned in my years as a primary teacher, it is that if you act confident, the children see you as an expert in whatever it is you are doing. As mentioned previous, they hang on every word. Any sign of nerves and children will pick up on this in an instant and may lose respect or interest in what you are saying. Was I ever the best at teaching French? Was I confident in my French speaking ability or teaching it? The answer to this is a resounding NO! Did the children I ever taught suspect this was the case? Again I’d have to say the answer is a resounding NO! I had to teach French on a weekly basis and delivered my lessons with confidence and certainty. Sure, I made some mistakes, but if I realised this I would confidently address them later and correct them myself. Let’s look at this in terms of PE delivery. If you appear confident in your delivery, demonstrations and teaching points then you are sure to have greater success in the lesson and maintain the respect of your class. Remember, you can always address and correct mistakes later with confidence. If you show uncertainty from the outset then children may begin asking questions.
TIP TWO: Act Confidently
Demonstrate – This is huge! It was discussed in depth during my interview with Simon Blower from Pobble here. SHOW THEM what you expect them to do. ‘Easier said than done’ is how many may respond to that statement. Sure, we aren’t all ‘sporty’ or the best at something but we need to lead the way. As a Primary school teacher I always maintained that Literacy was never my strongest suit. Did that mean I never modelled writing? No. Was I nervous when modelling writing? Yes. Did I let on to the children that I was nervous? No.
It is very important that you show your class what you expect them to do. Whether this is a pass in football or netball, a jump in athletics or a balance in gymnastics, it is essential that this be demonstrated. Below are 3 suggestions for effective demonstration.
- Teacher – show the children what you expect. They love to see you get involved and show enthusiasm Some teachers are afraid of making mistakes (or looking silly) but this is a good thing too. If children see that even you, the teacher, makes mistakes, then they will feel better about it themselves if they find it hard.
- Children – Identify your strongest children and have them demonstrate. If a boy in your class plays at a local football academy then use him to model a pass. If a young girl is the next Beth Tweddle then have her show a handstand. It is important to note we don’t neglect the other children in the class here too. Have children demonstrating throughout, showcasing their improvements. Celebrate their success.
- Videos – The Internet is awash with millions of videos of professional sports men and women performing skills. Use this to your advantage by showing them skills you will be working on before a lesson, or if you have access to iPads/tablets, during the lesson.
TIP THREE: Demonstrate
Plan to be flexible – I have found that having this skill is invaluable when teaching not only primary PE, but also other subjects. It is important to be flexible and ‘stray from the plan’ if you see the need. Just because you have it written down to do in the lesson it doesn’t mean you have to do it. If my class are struggling with a push pass in hockey, and my intention was to move them onto opposed passing, I will simply not do it. Repeat the skill you are teaching but be sure to have both progressions and regressions to cater for all in your class. You can always build back up to the activity you missed at a later date. Quality over Quantity.
TIP FOUR: Plan to be flexible
Feel good factor – Aim to have your class walking away from every PE lesson with a smile on their face. We want them to go home that evening with a story to tell over the dinner table about how amazing their PE lesson was. Here are my 2 steps on how I try to achieve this every lesson:
- High fives and handshakes – After and during individual/paired or even teamwork, I have the children high fiving congratulating each other on how they have done. Acknowledging effort and performance. This continues throughout the lesson right till the moment they leave, ensuring they return to the classroom having had a positive experience in a supportive environment. Kind words are encouraged and rewarded with the school system, whether this be house points or the wonderful Class Dojo points system (I recommend this for all schools).
- Positive reinforcement (by the bucket load) – I try to praise anybody who I see doing something positive immediately e.g. “Superb body language Katie, I love how you are showing me good eye contact”. My aim is to try and praise at least 3 children within the first 30 seconds of the lesson. Often, the rest follow this lead and try their best to be next. They crave positive attention. Stay consistent with this throughout the lesson and highlight improvement, effort & determination as well as anybody participating with a great attitude (high fives and encouragement).
TIP FIVE: Feel Good Factor
Social Media CPD – Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to your advantage. Invest time into yourself and your development and see the benefits. Personally I love to use Twitter and have gained so many valuable pieces of advice and tips from engaging in the community. Below are some people who are simply a must follow to develop your knowledge, and gain ideas for teaching PE:
- @mrrobbo – The PE Geek
- @pe4learning – Brilliant site
- @thepecircle – Awesome blog sharing website
- @imsporticus – Superb blog
- @tagtiv8 – www.tagtiv8.com
- @pescholar – Website filled with incredible resources!
This is a great starting point and through these you will find many more excellent twitter accounts to follow.
TIP SIX: Social Media CPD
I hope you have enjoyed my top PE teaching tips for Primary School teachers and I look forward to seeing you again next time ‘Under the Umbrella’