Today I was working with a supply teacher, supply teacher A, who had some experience in PE and knew most of the classes we were going to be working with.
Lesson 1 - Class A
I enlightened supply teacher A about the rolling I had seen Class A doing at the end of the previous lesson. We placed out the mats in the middle of the hall and played a game of simon says. Supply teacher A incorporated nursery songs, like “dingle dangle scarecrow,” and even improvised a few; this was interesting to me as I hadn’t thought to use songs to help the students understand what I’m asking of them, especially as it seemed to work well in keeping this class’s attention. The teacher gave simple commands such as “simon says wave your hands,” and “simon says tickle the person next to you.” The latter worked particularly well as the children enjoyed the interaction. As usual, Pupil 1 struggled to stay on task and occasionally made an effort to run away. Supply teacher A did well to remind Pupil 1 to return to the “blue” mats - pointing out the colour of the mats is a method widely used when teaching autistic children, as it is thought that they pay attention to the details, particularly colours, of objects and their surroundings. The supply teacher never ran after the Pupil 1 either, which worked well as he had a discipline system on the board to refer to if Pupil 1 failed to return to the matted area. The system on the board was a list of the students names and they’d get a tick next to their name if they misbehaved. Being able to display visually how the students where behaving during the lesson worked well in encouraging this class in maintaining good behaviour, especially as they had the opportunity to have their tick rubbed off the board if they started to behave appropriately.
Pupil 6 appeared reasonably distressed during this session and tended to make winging noises and wasn’t copying all of the movements given. She also climbed on the TA with her who did well to gently ease Pupil 6 off her and keep her involved in a majority of the lesson.
After the session I mentioned to supply teacher A how odd it seemed to me to use nursery rhymes in a PE lesson, particularly as I couldn’t remember many myself. He said he had two young children so he was using nursery rhymes a lot in his current affairs and he feels it works well to calm young children down or get them to pay attention; something I had noticed during the lesson. So this got me thinking, could I incorporate songs and rhymes into my lessons? - it could certainly be a memorable method amongst young children, but it may seem I would have to come up with a few myself if I want them to induce physical activity. Another trouble might be getting the students to learn the songs, that may take too much time; nonetheless this type of creative implementation may prove useful in the future, and could be worth considering.
Lesson 2 - Class B
In preparation for the next lesson I gave the supply teacher an update on the tennis skills we had been practicing with this class, and the tennis game that was very similar to cricket that we had been playing at the end of most lessons. Supply teacher A briefed me on a few ideas he had for some skills that the students could practiced, which I agreed would be useful, and he asked me to take over when it came to playing the end game as I was familiar with the rules - I of course was more than happy to do so.
The supply teacher set up green cones as markers for where each student will practice their skills. I was intrigued to see how this would go as I had explained to the teacher that this secondary class liked a sense of independence and enjoyed moving about the hall on their own when practicing, but he wanted to try taking his part of the lesson this way.
Each pupil was placed by a cone with a racket and ball which they too seemed surprised by, however they soon forgot about it when they began practicing their skills. Supply teacher A asked me to demonstrate the skills (balancing the ball on the racket while spinning around, then spinning at a low level, then spinning and hold the racket above one’s head) which is something we had not discussed prior to lesson so I felt put on the spot. Nevertheless I attempted the demo and dropped the ball, resulting in all the students laughing at my poor display. At first I felt embarrassed but I then realised that perhaps this clumsy demonstration was more suitable for this class than I realised - these students hate making mistakes and tend to suffer enormous frustration with themselves if they fail to perform a given task; seeing an authoritative figure like me fail a task in front of everyone not only made them laugh, but hopefully showed them that everyone makes mistakes and that we all need to practice to get better at something. After thinking about this I felt recomposed and actually satisfied with how the demo went - I even thought that tactically making mistakes might be a helpful ploy in future demos for this particular class.
I took the role of the bowler in the end game and reminded everyone of the rules. All students listened to me well and I asked them questions to ensure they understood, to which they responded appropriately. The class played and behaved wonderfully, being quiet when I asked them to get ready, and asked me questions to reacquaint themselves with certain rules. Everyone appeared to enjoy this last part of the session and supply teacher A thanked me for taking an a assertive role.
Lesson 3 - Class C
The supply teacher employed his nursery singing knowledge to effective use again in this lesson. We found that Pupil 2 reacted particularly well to this method and enjoyed performing the actions to “row your boat,” and “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” with some assistance. At one point in the session, Pupil 2 performed the actions to the latter and more excitingly...sung; I have never heard him so vocal, so clear, and so enthusiastic to use his own voice, all the TA’s in the area held their breath as each of us instantly knew it was a special moment. Pupil 2 had turned away from his assistant, sung at his own will with accurate pronunciation, and performed effective movements in time with his voice - none of us were expecting it and we made sure to give him appropriate praise afterwards.
Lesson 4 - Class D
In essence, this lesson was the same as lesson 2. I had informed the supply teacher that we had been practicing tennis skills with this group as well and so we decided to keep our arrangement about taking different parts of the lesson. While we were practicing skills however, the teacher decided to split the group in half to form to circles. I was asked to assist Pupil 1. When practicing the balancing and some bouncing skills I needed to be very encouraging, keep the pupil looking at the ball, and I even had to help him hold the racket although I tended to back away every now and then to nurture some level of independent practice. Pupil 1 worked with me very well, and when he felt he was struggling he would politely ask for help; I did not always provide it as I sometimes believed he was performing better than he realised and so I tried to encourage him to continue on his own for a few more attempts and then I would agree to help him again. I think it’s crucial to identify when someone really needs help, and as I am starting learn who the children really are in each class I felt more able to do that in this lesson.
At the end I took on the same role as before in lesson 2 and became the bowler of our tennis game, while enforcing the rules.
Lesson 5 - Class E
The last lesson I had seen this class doing was tennis skills similar to that of Class B. Supply teacher A and I agreed that it would do well then to simulate a similar lesson to lesson 2 and perhaps adjust a few exercises to suit the students needs. I also reassured Supply teacher A that I was on standby to help at any time and that I was happy to take the role of the bowler in the final game we would be working up to.
Cones were used again with this class, but these students did not seem as surprised to stand in one place; as a slightly younger class than Class B I assumed they were perhaps less resistant to authority in this way, however a couple of students who arrive instantly display a desire to be active with one male doing pull-ups on the basket ball hoop, and another who will pick up equipment that is lying around and start playing some kind of sport. I knew the latter student liked to help with putting names on the board to enforce the school discipline system before each lesson, so I figured in future lessons to make more of an effort to help me do that. Today though the class seemed in a reasonable frame of mind and listened to instructions; maybe this was because it was the end of the day and students may have performed other tiring activities, or maybe they were slightly put off by the absence of their regular teaching and felt more obliged to focus? It wasn’t easy to confirm, but something to always bear in mind.
As before, Supply teacher A gave basic skill tasks to the class with me helping during a few demos. The class as a whole performed very well, and listened intently. The TA’s were on board to help the wheelchair users and I saw them simplifying some tasks for them. For example instead of spinning around on the spot trying to balance the tennis ball, they remained stationary but tried to roll the ball around the racket. Eventually we worked up to the cricket based games where again I stepped in as the bowler and reminded the class of the rules. However I knew this class was not as mathematical as Class B so I simplified the points system: originally, if a student hit the wall after performing a forehand they would get ten points, if they hit a wall after performing a backhand they would get twenty points, and five for each run they made. As the class had not practiced many backhands and I thought it may be a lot for them to remember the different points available, I decided to eliminate the backhand rule and just focussed on encouraging a fun end to the last lesson of the day.
Live life to the full.