Creating authentic and meaningful physical fitness units is something that has challenged PE teachers for decades, everyone with own ideas and tweaks of what works and what does not work. My objective for this unit was to:
– Challenge pupil knowledge on physical and health related fitness
– Expose pupils to real world jobs (Physical trainer/coach), to develop a relationship with a client.
– Reflect on the impact they have made (if any).
This unit was planned for 6 weeks including their summative exam, and was organised simply as pupil 1 was the coach of pupil 2 (client) and vice versa. With some classes there was groups of 3 which was manageable through a triangle of coaches and clients. In order for the relationship of coach and client to flourish then these pairings were made by the pupils, even if there may have been the problem children together.
The unit began with an interview to each other asking what the client thinks are their physical strengths and weaknesses while using these helpful definitions from thephysicaleducator.com.
Pupils were then tested on most of the important factors of; agility (Illinois agility test), muscular endurance (push up and sit up test), flexibility (modified hip flexion test) and cardiovascular/muscular endurance (12 minute Cooper run) . I chose these tests as I feel I could achieve the most reliability in results. Therefore, to implement the 12 minute Cooper run, half of the class participated as the client, while the other half counted the number of laps as their coach and vice versa. With the other tests, I demonstrated the specifications of a successful push up, sit up and flexibility for these tests so that they could be conducted in their group. This was a good idea as the coach made sure the client was doing the test as I specified, this was happening while I supervised (timed) individuals with the more complex task of the Illinois agility test. Furthermore, after these tests the coaches compared their client´s scores with a table of norms (references included). After the tests, the clients were interviewed to create a SMART goal most so that their coach could begin to create an relevant training plan for them.
In addition, the pupils began to create sessions for their clients to complete during classes with the guideline that it should be challenging, progressive and last at least 20 minutes in duration. After each session students would give feedback on the session, both as the client and coach. This was to focus on developing the relationship between coach and client and so there was interaction after their sessions were finished. After 3 sessions were completed the students completed a mid-point interview to see if the client was happy with the progress being made towards their SMART goal, or if they wanted to adjust their goal, or adjust the type of exercises they would like to do. Some students were happy with the progress and others made small adjustments to their client´s plan based on the mid-point interview. During the final 3 sessions we discussed during classes and wrote down answers of how they were developing the relationship of being a coach and client. The students were able to identify key skills needed in order for the relationship to work but struggled to explain with confidence in why these skills had a big impact on the relationship. Furthermore, after our fitness tests were conducted at the end of the training plan students looked to see if there was any changes in their scores and asked to reflect if the training plan they created had any impact on them as a client. Students reflected on the impact of their performance in the sport/physical activity they do the most, for example has their improvement in their muscular endurance had any impact on their football performance now? Has their flexibility improvement had any impact on their dancing ability?
Overall the key concept of relationships was fitting as it was at the heart of the unit, because despite the fact that students lacked knowledge of exercising effectively and with variety, they were far more willing to follow a plan created by their peer who they have a closer relationship than with me. It really was student centered as half of the time my role was checking in with groups to see their progress, instead of calling on the attention of certain pupils for not following my lead of exercises. To address this issue next year I will run a ´masterclass´with demonstrations and links to resources for pupils to engage with depending on the physical factor they aim to improve for their client. Thanks to the SWORKIT app, that helped with the coaches as they were struggling with ideas after 2 or 3 sessions, very easy to use and has great demonstration videos to follow. Furthermore, the students who do not do any physical activity or sport outside of school found the question on impact very difficult as the felt they could not answer the question with confidence. This means next year I will ask at the beginning of the unit the sport or physical activity, so we can have this overview of training for impact on performance of ´X´sport, even if they do not do it.
Most teachers are finished now and enjoying their holidays. I will be relaxing my brain from the day to day administrative tasks of teaching, and focussing on some professional reading while preparing for my new role as PE subject leader in my school.