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Noise Control In PE

A topic that has come up recently is a teacher's least favourite subject to cover (see Gareth's blog on How to Teach Dance). Like Gareth, Hannah's is PE! Hannah gives her advice on how to get through PE and in particular to control the noise level. 

PE is one of my least favourite subjects to cover. It has its positives, in that there will be no marking and teachers usually don’t mind if you don’t follow the plan to the letter, but behaviour management can be a real challenge. The noise levels can become so high that  you know it won’t be long until a member of Senior Management comes along to raise their eyebrows at you.

PE plans can be very difficult to follow, particularly if the teacher who wrote them (or photocopied them from those lever arch files with the stickmen drawings) did not intend to need cover, and was just writing it as a loose reminder. So try to have a loose idea of what to do just in case.

When getting changed for PE, try to set the standard for the noise. Those that have finished can sit on the carpet and play a quiet game, such as ‘Heads Down Thumbs Up’.

It’s important to stretch before doing the rest of the lesson. If you’re outside, you may want to do this rather quickly before the children freeze, but if you’re inside, this can be a fun thing to do for the children while you can watch them carefully. Have a bank of a few stretching ideas, such as touch your toes and touch your nose, putting your opposite elbow to knee and making circles with your arms, and then if you’re out of ideas, ask a child to demonstrate from the front. This helps your behaviour management in two ways. Firstly, you can make a big deal of who gets to be the person at the front, “I’m going to choose someone who is standing still, looking at me”. Secondly, while they’re busy doing the stretches for you, you are free to make sure everyone is on track. Prompt any children that are being silly straight away, and then move them next to you if they continue.

Next, a warm up game. If you know a few of these, you can play them for the whole lesson in the event of no plans. The old stand-by (pun intended), is ‘Stuck in the Mud’. Choose about 3 children to be ‘on’ to chase the others. When caught, the child puts their arms out until they can be ‘freed’ by a child that has not yet been caught, by ducking under their arms. The ‘Bean’ game (jelly bean: wobble, chilly bean: shiver, etc.) and Dishes and Domes (two teams and cones; one team tries to keep the cones facing upwards like a bowl (dishes), and the other team run around turning them back over again (domes)). You can play those games inside or outside, and it’s good to know a few just in case!

In the main lesson, when the noise levels are too high, it’s good to have some strategies up your sleeve. My preference is to keep children moving, using any markings on the floor. If I want everyone’s attention, I may just say, ‘on the line!’ and expect them to line up. If some children don’t, depending on what I think might motivate them more, I might whisper to the ones that are already there (it does reduce the noise), I might play a ‘trick’ on them, and change where they need to stand (they try to race each other), or I might count down, and say anyone not there will need to sit ‘out’ for a few minutes.

Sitting out can work well, but it can be difficult to manage the lesson with those participating while the more tricky behaved children are sitting out together, being silly or annoying each other. I try to avoid this one if I can.

What I would never do is send them back to get changed. Even if a child’s behaviour is becoming unmanageable, it would be better to take them all back early rather than allow a child to be in the classroom by themselves. Also, for your own safety, do not be in the room with only one child still getting dressed, make sure that you keep yourself safe from any accusations.

At the end of the lesson, if there is still time, play a cool down game. The children often have one that they’ve been asking you if they can play all lesson, and now might be a good time to try it out. 

What strategies do you use in PE to help with controlling noise levels? Do you have some you would like to share with others? Contact Megan for more information on how you can share your ideas.

Tags: HannahB, Behaviour, PE

Category: Australian Teachers

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