After three or even four years of university, placements, teaching practice, coaching opportunities and endless other experiences, you’ve finally made it – you’re a qualified PE teacher, ready to take on the world! Whilst you may feel like you’re all set, in reality, the learning is only just getting started and continues throughout your career. In this article, we explore advice that a current experienced teacher and head of PE would give to their NQT-self…
The first piece of advice to new starters in the profession is to work out the most effective way of planning for you. It is very unlikely that this will involve formal lesson plans written on a pre-designed template as may have been the case on placements, but nevertheless, thorough planning is essential. Ensure that you are aware of all of the additional needs of your groups and that this information is stored securely but is easy for you to access. Ensure you have access to the schemes of work that you are delivering and refer to them when planning your lessons. Once you get into your planning routine, you may find that for each lesson you are writing short bullet points for each lesson in your planner, which will save you time whilst ensuring you are aware of what you should be delivering.
To really maximise your efficiency and also your impact, try and plan the next lesson with each group as soon after the previous lesson as possible. For example, after a Monday P1 rounders lesson, spend a few minutes as soon as you can (ideally the same day) reflecting on what happened and what you would like to do with the class next lesson. Write a few short bullet points in your planner for the next time you see them so you remember exactly what needs to happen next.
The next piece of advice is to be consistent with your expectations at all times, and to absolutely ‘sweat the small stuff’. Be fully clear with all of your classes what your expectations are in terms of attitude, effort, behaviour and kit and rigidly stick to these expectations. If, for example, you allow one student to wear a piece of jewellery in the lesson, or to chew gum, other students will begin to test boundaries and see what other expectations you do not uphold. If you allow a pupil to talk over you, other pupils may assume that they are also able to talk over you. Be fully consistent all of the time, and praise pupils when they get it right.
You can be fully consistent with your expectations, and unfortunately, some students will still get it wrong. Do not take this personally. Remain calm, clear and follow the school behaviour policy. Avoid shouting or being confrontational with pupils at all times. Be firm but fair by explaining to the pupil how your expectations haven’t been met and the consequences of these choices. Some pupils may try to act up to get a reaction from you – by being calm and consistent, but without giving them any leeway to misbehave, you will always overcome any battles. Take a look at our previous blog on behaviour management for NQT PE teachers by clicking here.
Ultimately, you and your department will be judged on the outcomes of your examination classes. Ensure you know the specification inside out and are covering every single base. Whilst we can’t expect every pupil to get the highest grade possible, you can ‘control the controllables’ and ensure that your planning and delivery for these classes are always of high quality. Know exactly where you are in the specification, what content the pupils struggled to grasp, where you intend you go next, when mock exams are, which pupils are exceeding, secure and below their target grades, and how you are supporting those who are underachieving. Do not let yourself or your department be vulnerable to criticism of how your exam classes have performed.
The final tip that we would offer to ourselves… enjoy it. It really is the best job in the world! Remember that you could be one of the reasons that a child develops an enjoyment of sport and physical activity, and whilst there may be low points at times, the highs are always just around the next corner!
Let the PE Office assist you
PE Office could potentially be an invaluable resource for you taking on the profession of being a PE teacher. The platform is host to a wide range and extensive learning bank of lesson plans and schemes of work that can save you an incredible amount of time planning lessons.
The system also includes video clips of elite performers demonstrating how to perform skills effectively. For example, if you are also struggling with how to pass properly in Rugby, then you can watch a clip, like this one, to help develop your knowledge and deliverance of it to your students.