For the moment, I want to reflect on control and compliance vs. autonomy and engagement in regards to our instructional practice in PE. It is important to constantly evaluate where our instruction falls on this spectrum. All the science out there indicates with certainty that humans thrive when they feel that they work within environments that foster autonomy and freedom. Whether you work in business, education, engineering and so forth, the key to productivity is autonomy. If this is the case for the workforce in general, what are the implications for our students as they embark on their learning journeys in school? If the science supports the notion that adults are more engaged in their work and more productive in general when they work in environments that promote and foster autonomy, it is obvious that students thrive in the same types of environments within the walls of their own schools.
I think it is an absolute necessity to involve students in assessment design in PE. Again the science clearly indicates that humans gain much higher levels of motivation that is sustainable over time when they have more freedom and autonomy in their work environment. This science is no different for our students. Our number one goal, in my opinion, should be to create intrinsically motivated students. Intrinsic motivation is at the very heart and essence of success in school and in the workplace. If we can help to develop intrinsically motivated students in our PE classes, everything else comes easy. I guarantee that they will meet and/or exceed all of the student learning outcomes in a unit. They will meet and/or succeed all of the standards and benchmarks that they are required to meet in PE.
How can we help to create an environment that encourages autonomy and freedom in PE?
- Give the students more ownership over their learning
- Allow them to design the learning tasks they will engage in
- Ask them what they want to know, learn, and do in PE
- Allow them to simply explore apparatus and other equipment needed in a unit
- Give them opportunities to share their learning with their peers
- Let them fail at a task, but be there to ask provocative questions to help them persevere through this difficulty
- Allow them to have a strong voice in how they want to be assessed
- Celebrate every student's success in PE regardless of skill level
I ask you again to assess where on the spectrum your teaching practice falls. At what times do we need more control? At what times can we give up control? All important factors to reflect on when trying to improve our instructional practice in PE. Let me know your thoughts.