With the news that Gavin Williamson is wanting to ‘crack down on discipline’ in schools following the long periods of home-schooling due to Covid, we thought we would use this opportunity to discuss behaviour in PE.
Teachers are often extremely confident with behaviour management in a classroom setting but may struggle to apply the same rules to a PE lesson. There is a conflict between allowing pupils the freedom to enjoy themselves whilst still adhering to the expectations of the school. Clear boundaries are particularly important in PE as often there is potentially unsafe equipment and activities being carried out.
Therefore it is vital all children know what is acceptable during these sessions. In this blog, we will give our top tips for encouraging good (and safe) behaviour within your sessions…
- It seems simple, but the best way to encourage good behaviour in PE is to ensure you are following the same rules as you would in any other subject. Yes, PE is fun and loud and exciting, but the children still need to know what is expected in order to maintain some semblance of order! Children need structure and familiarity to thrive, so having the same expectations throughout all subjects helps them feel safe and comfortable, enabling some fantastic learning to take place.
- In order for everyone to stay safe and to ensure full understanding, the children should be silent (or close to silent!) when gathered to listen to instructions. Silence means it is easier to pinpoint the children who are not paying attention, and also means you can concentrate on giving instructions as opposed to shouting over everyone. This may seem impossible, especially when you are delivering outside, but trust us, it will save you lots of time and stress in the long run.
- Make sure your boundaries are clear and you follow through with consequences. The best-structured sessions are those where everyone knows the expectations and everyone follows them! You may have the same rules every lesson (e.g. two-strike rule) or you may adapt them based on the safety aspects of the equipment being used (e.g. hockey sticks), but the main thing to remember is to make them absolutely clear to your pupils and to make sure you impose the consequences when handed out.
- Most children are intrinsically motivated by praise, so it makes it a hugely successful behaviour management tool. Highlight the children behaving well and you will find that the others soon follow so they get the positive attention too. Obviously, sometimes unsafe or poor behaviour needs to be stopped, but showcasing the children who have done ‘the right thing’ can work wonders for whole-class behaviour.
- On the same note, make sure you celebrate traits that aren’t just linked to sport or sport-specific skills. Celebrate the children who have worked well in a team or who shared their equipment when needed. Celebrate the children who gave something a go despite being nervous about it. Picking up on these little things really gives a boost, plus it shows the wider aims of PE too.
As teachers or education professionals, you are already experts in behaviour management – you have to be! So as long as you apply your known techniques to your PE lessons, you shouldn’t go too wrong. Be confident in your rules, letting the children know why they are in place and how they will be enforced. It seems counterintuitive, but actually having a really structured format helps children feel free and able to learn.