PE Challenge No. 5: Go and observe another PE teacher or Sports Coach.

PE Challenge

PE Challenge 5

by @ImSporticus

Over the next 8 weeks, every weekend, I will offer you a challenge for the following week. These challenges will come from other teachers, researchers, academics and coaches and take on different formats. You can try one, try the ones you like, or try them all. The hope is that it will stimulate thought about your practice, your pupils understanding and their learning and potentially change them for the better.

PE Challenge No. 5: Go and observe another PE teacher or Sports Coach.

Watching. It is one of the key ways we learn. Yet how often do we as PE Teachers, or coaches of school sport, go and observe someone else? Not to judge, not for performance management, but with the sole purpose of learning something new or reflecting on what we do?

As an NQT I was expected to teach Olympic Gymnastics to Year 11. Rings, Pommel, Parallel Bars, Vaults and Floor. In fact it was the very first lesson I ever taught as a qualified teacher of PE. Looking back on it, it was truly awful. After that first lesson I went to the local gymnastics club. Every Tuesday night after coaching school rugby I would go and watch the coaches teach juniors how to perform on these pieces of apparatus. I listened to their language. I watched how they supported them. I made notes on technical feedback and drills to build confidence. I watched how holding indvidual body shapes could be developed into simple routines. I absorbed as much as I could and then implemented it into my teaching.

At my current school, one of my colleagues,holds a UEFA B Coaching Badge. When possible I go an observe him run training sessions. This is far better for me than any book or video on youtube. Observing is a wonderful tool for professional development, especially in context like physical education and also sport.

So this week make the time for an informal observation. If you have a free lesson or afternoon after work go an watch a colleague. Even better if you could make a contact at a local club or another school and go and watch someone there. Go with an open mind, watch and see if you can learn something new to add or challenge your existing repertoire.


One of the most successful means of improving the quality of our student’s learning outcomes is by improving the quality of the teaching (or coaching). One of the ways of educating the teacher or the coach is through observation and then reflection. Adopting a critically reflective mindset to our own approach, means we can focus on the process rather than the product. I think good teaching and coaching of physical education and of sport is intuitive, but this can only be gained by asking ‘what’ and ‘why’. However this can be very difficult to do when in the actual process of teaching, although I think the truly exceptional teachers can critically reflect at the same time as teaching.

Observing another, not only allows us to gain new knowledge, like the technique to ‘muscle up’ on the rings, but allows us to critically reflect on our own practice. It is by the act of observing others, especially those with subject specific mastery, that we are able to achieve a higher awareness and understanding of our own teaching. As teachers we often end up in our own classroom, day after day, doing what we are good at. Getting out of our teaching space and observing others could help us to innovate or further refine our methods. This week then, get out of your classroom and go an observe someone else. It might just be some of the most useful professional development you can do to improve your own teaching.


If you decide to accept the challenge, I would love you to share your thoughts. Did it help your teaching or your pupils learning in anyway? What were the outcomes of the challenge, both positive and negative?

You can either post your response to this blog.

Or on Twitter direct to me at @imsporticus

Or on Twitter with the hashtag #pechallenge and I shall collate them.

Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you.

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Written by ImSporticus
On the first day in my current school I sat down next to a colleague and began to introduce myself as the new Teacher of PE. She kindly smiled at me, pointed to the opposite side of the common room, and said sweetly ‘I know. The shallow side is over there.’ I’ve been drowning ever since.
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