When things just don’t go to plan..

 Below is a reflection conducted on a task that we were asked to complete in EDH2151. Honestly, completing this refelction was scary as I learned just how little I really do know about teaching children HPE. 

Coaches need to be able to evaluate the technical and tactical aspects of a player’s performance, the physical and mental condition of the performer, the extent to which the goals were achieved, as well as their coaching performance (Gray, 2007).The evaluation process enables a coach to structure future training sessions in a more logical fashion, based upon the actual requirements of the players and the ability of the coach, rather than what the coach may think is apporpriate (Slade, 2014).  In response to the feedback provided by the marker, there are activities I have changed from my session plan to create a more successful learning experience for future participants. The activities I have changed were ill suited to the skill level of the students’ participating in the lesson, affecting both the way they participated in the lesson and their enjoyment of the learning experience.

 

The objective of the session was to develop the participants’ knowledge and understanding of basic attacking principles utilised in touch football. These activities were chosen as players need to be involved with direct situations that are game sense related that have particular relevance to what may occur in a game (Light, Curry & Mooney, 2014).  In every, activity students were engaging in some form of attacking scenario; starting with basic attacking principles, progressively building upon those, working towards a game situation in which they were asked to put the skills learnt into practice. Skill learning begins with the mastery of the core competencies and techniques and progresses to applying those skills in increasingly competitive situations (Hopper, 1998). Validity is facilitated when the nature of the evidence gathered aligns with the criteria required to measure the skills, knowledge or attitudes relevant in regards to a particular standard (Popham, 2002).  It is, therefore, evident when evaluating the validity of the activities chosen that they align specifically with the overall objective; it measures what it claims to be assessing (Tovey & Lawlor, 2004).

 

The enjoyment and engagement of the session was affected by the suitability of the drills selected for the body of the lesson. Sometimes the best of plans do not translate into workable sessions (Cassidy, Jones & Potrac, 2004). The activity the students had the most difficulty completing was the ‘stay in your squares’ drill, where many of the participants struggled with timing their passes or panicked to get the ball away when the defender rushed forward. Being unable to complete the activity correctly the students became frustrated and disengaged from the learning experience. When students perform a task successfully, they are willing to try something more difficult.  On the other hand, repeated failures can diminish confidence (Denison, 2007).

 

The ability to utilise effective transitions helps coaches to minimize disruptions and behaviour problems, maximize instructional time and maintain optimal learning conditions (Strategies for Managing Classroom Behaviour, 2012). Transitions between the different sections of the session were slow due to a lack of organisation and preparation before the start of the lesson. It is important that the coach check the area used for the session beforehand, marking out grids, ensuring that the correct equipment is available as the inability to do so encroaches on the students learning experience (Mosston, 2001). The timing and transitions between each section were slowed down further as the instructional performance of the lesson was compromised by the weather conditions experienced on the day. Due to the strength of the wind some students were unable to hear the instructions given for each activity.  This created a situation in which half the students understood what was expected and were eager to continue the lesson while the rest were confused and required further clarification. During a session the coach should be giving clear, concise instructions and explanations; providing key information so that activities can be started safely and quickly (Mitchell 2013).

 

Safety played a significant part in the way the area was laid out as there were a few hazards on the field that restricted the space that we were able to use. It is vital that within every session or lesson the area used is set out with the participants’ safety in mind (Goodman, 2006).  By selecting activities that required a similar setup meant we were able to use the same grid a number of times. Pre- arranging the grids meant the session was able to begin right away, but misjudging the space required meant that adjustments were needed when the session was being conducted.

 

There were some factors that contributed to my ability to communicate effectively with the students.  In an attempt to incorporate a command teaching style, where the teacher or coach makes all the decisions while the participants execute the performance (Callcot et al., 2012), questions participants had in relation to the activities went unanswered, as I focused on the delivery of the instructions. The choice of instructional format should be sensitive to the characteristics of the participants (Siedentop & Tannehill, 2001). Further confusion arose when I used technical jargon to explain certain activities such as in the ‘3 on 2 attacking’ drill when I told the students to “stay deep” so that they had more time to receive the ball. Although these instructions were made to assist the students, they did not understand what I meant by them. When working to communicate strategies, the more accessible and intuitive language is, and the easier it is for people to learn (Mosston & Ashworth, 2001). The success of any coach, at perhaps every level, is determined by their ability to communicate effectively with athletes and in turn getting them to communicate better with each other (De Meester, 2014).  The provision of a visual demonstration would have provided clarification of my expectations. Demonstrations provide the model, the image of the content; therefore, content replication and clarification are the primary reasons for conducting demonstrations (Mosston & Ashworth, 2001). Different types of content requires different approaches for instruction whether it is reproductive approaches such as command, practice, reciprocal and inclusion or productive approaches such as problem-solving and guided discovery (Goodman,2006).

 

Good coaches adapt and modify aspects of their coaching and create an environment that caters to individual needs and allows everyone to take part (ASC, 2014a). When conducting the lesson, the importance of being able to be able to change and rearrange activities that are not working effectively became apparent. Students may have been more engaged in the learning experience if in the “stay in your squares” drill the defenders had restrictions on where they were allowed to move within their squares. However, these changes were not made during the session and this affected the successfulness of the learning experience. Contingency planning and problem-solving are vital components of a coach’s toolbox.  A good coach will have the ability to pre-plan for some of the possibilities, or to come up with creative solutions very quickly after a problem arises (Siedentop & Tannehill, 2001).

 

By evaluating this lesson, there a number of changes I have to implement before delivering this to another group; evaluation assists in developing a more successful learning experience. The main changes would revolve around selecting more developmentally appropriate activities for the body of the session and choosing activities that are easily adapted to the skill level of the participants. I would also change the communication techniques that I used and make an effort to listen to any question participants may have about an activity as well as provide them with visual demonstrations of the different activities for clarity.

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