Trying something new.

I was first introduced to the sport education model during my ITE year just 9 months ago. The lecturer Paul McMillan and his enthusiasm and interest in the model as evident before he uttered a word, I was hooked. Paul taught us the model experientially; we were the pupils in his charge. The theme of the model was ultimate Frisbee, better known as ultimate. Paul allowed us to play the game and introduced it with great enthusiasm again I was hooked. After that first lesson we chose 3 ‘captains’ to chose 3 very even, fair and competitive teams. From this our teams were born. We gave ourselves team names, team colours, team chants and team roles. I was a rule official; my role consisted of refereeing when our team was ‘on duty’ and voicing my teams issues with our set of rules, which we could change at any time. We played through a ‘season’ and could win our games not only through scoring goals or touchdowns, but also by gaining fair play and sportsmanship points. Points would be deducted for unsporting conduct and any abuse directed towards the match referee. We closed the sessions off with a finale, we battled it out (fully dressed in our team colours with vest tops and tights from primark alongside face paints!!!) in front of holy rood park. I was a fantastic finale to a great introduction and one that will sit with me for a long time, thank you Paul.

From this I have introduced this model to a group of S2 pupils at school. The pupils had to elect a ‘project’ to work within and my one ‘sport education’ was fully subscribed. Instead of ultimate I chose to introduce the pupils to handball, considering its prominence at London 2012 I was sure the pupils would be keen. The first lesson was as it was 9 months ago, I introduced the sport, set some rules and parameters and allowed the pupils to play, and they enjoyed this opportunity to ‘just play’. From this the pupils selected 3 ‘star’ players, I asked them to consider who would be the best leader, motivator and performer in both attack and defence, they chose. The 3 captains then chose 3 fair and competitive teams and I assigned them a colour red, blue and green. They came up with a team name and also I introduced roles for the team to take when not playing (they chose their playing role and I am not going to interfere with this aspect). The roles I set are as follows, fitness coach, skills coach, captain, rule official, timekeeper, scorekeepers and goal line judges. The pupils allocated themselves a role and we were off. I set aside two lessons to introduce the format of the games and the roles as fitness coach and skills coach are practice roles when not playing and ‘on duty’ they would be in charge of the video camera and photography of the games (for their folders and memories). The format of the games would work like this, two teams would play and the team ‘on duty’ will take up their role whether it was referee, timekeeper, photography or goal line judges. It was up to the pupils how this was organized and looked during game time (I did step in to offer advice at the first instance). The focus of my attention was the scorekeepers as I set up a score sheet so that goals alone didn’t win you the game. I offered points for sportsmanship, I deducted points for yellow and red cards and there was a fair play mark given out of 3 (3 being excellent fair play and 0 being poor display or fair play). On the conclusion of each game the teams shook hands and the team ‘on duty’ gathered round to make any final amendments to the score sheet (as other members of the team on duty may have seen an incident). The team on duty then read out the final score and the breakdown, the aim of this to gain confidence in public speaking and also reasoning skills as teams had the opportunity to ask why they were scored in such a way (but no changes could be made at this point) in the hope that the teams learned from occasions after each game.

Prior to commencing the ‘season’ I offered the pupils the option of a practice session before the big kick off. They took this offer and the fitness and skills coach asked me for advice and ideas after asking them to consider as a team their strengths and weaknesses. The following session I set the pupils an area to work with and provided all the necessary equipment for them. I was taken aback by the imagination and initiative the pupils took to research and set up practice drills (whether they were relevant to their teams weaknesses is another discussion altogether). We finished this session with a round of games and I readied the pupils for the season starting the following week.

The season arrived and the pupils were into the hall and off to a quick start, they know their roles (well some needed to be reminded by teammates and myself as I kept the necessary documents for reference). The first few games were excellent with the pupils sharing ideas and decided what is good fair play and what isn’t good fair play. The pupils were even having appropriate discussions to change the rules and now after each session we have a rules discussion.

I am a few weeks away from the big finale, which I hope the pupils will embrace like myself and m colleagues did not so long ago. It has been a good start to my use of a new teaching model and of course I will be asking for feedback from the pupils but their engagement so far has been pleasing and I hope I see some great outfits for that finale.

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