Monday, 13 August 2012

Rewarding achievement

Now I'm going to write this post from the perspective of a PE teacher in a secondary school.  I'm going to explain something we do every year for the past 7 years.  As I chatted about this with fellow Tweachers a little while ago, what I will talk about can, and already has been, done or replicated in other schools in other contexts.  Maybe after reading this your subject, department, faculty or school could do something similar?  It doesn't have to be just for sport.

In the first year of teaching, I was incredibly lucky to start with two other NQT's in my department.  The three of us were separately mentored by older figures but helped each other out where needed.  In our first year, we had the usual excitement as you would expect from a 'fresh out of uni' teachers and I came with a million and one ideas.  It was my fellow PE NQT's that would reign me in and put my ideas into practice.

So, in my first year I put forward an idea that I had kind of got from a teaching placement.  At this particular school they focused only on three sports (Basketball, Football & Hockey).  It was a mixed school but these were the only ones that they chose to put their energy in.  At the end of the year, they would get all of the students in one night and have a 'dinner evening' where all would come smartly dressed and bring the family of sport together.

I liked this idea but thought we could take it further.  Instead I came up with the idea of the 'Brookfield Sports Awards'.  The evening would be similar in idea to the one on my placement.  We would invite students in and have a dinner, but we would also reflect on the achievements of the year and give out awards to players on individual teams (a mix of a traditional end of season club awards evening and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year).  All in all, we wanted to recognise the efforts of students and inspire them to continue.

So numerous years down the line the awards are still going extremely strong.  The night has been amended slightly but the format has stayed the same.  We scrapped the Disco at the end of the night which we had in the first year because of the usual boys standing on one side and girls on the other.  Instead the night works a little bit like this:


Our PE team splits down with most members of the team taking on a particular responsibility for the evening.  This ranges from organising the invites to sorting the food.  Letters with invitations go out and students have to return these with a small charge to cover cost of the evening.  As they return their reply slips, they have to vote for one player on their team who they feel made the biggest contribution.  This doesn't mean the best player and never usually is.  There have been a lot of votes for players who have just been committed, great leaders or the most improved.  These votes are then tallied up by our amazing admin support colleague Tracey.  By the time the evening comes, we have a 'Players Player' for each team voted by their peers.  Trophies for each of these individuals are then ordered.

The night

We go overboard here but with very little cost.  The venue we use is our school hall.  Normally used for assemblies of staff meetings, every year we transform it.  This transformation can not happen without the help of Handmade Productions who are a team of set designers.  Every year without fail, they provide us with amazing staging and props completely free.  This goodwill and sense of community is amazing!  We owe them a lot.

Every year, with the help of Handmade Productions, we create a theme.  Over the years we have turned the hall into a circus big top (it was mind blowing!), ancient Greek games and this year, in celebration of the Olympics, we turned it into the city of London.  Every year the students and staff that attend are wowed by the visually appealing environment we create.  We like to make a fuss.

To start the evening we normally have an impact piece.  This year it was the use of the Olympic bid video to get the atmosphere going.  When we had the big top we had our drumming band and a team of circus acrobats start the evening.  Think of it as our 4 minute opening ceremony!

The format

This year we had 17 teams invited covering Football, Rugby, Cricket, Netball and Basketball.  Teams in each sport range from Year 7 to 9 for both boys and girls, with some combined teams in there as well.  We focus on one sport at a time (e.g. Rugby).  We then break it down to focus on the teams within that sport (e.g. Year 7 Rugby).  We start by reading out a speech prepared by the PE staff reflecting on the year and noting any highlights or performances.  We then announce the winner of the peer voted 'Players Player' award and invite that student up.  The cheers and applause they receive is amazing and such a humbling thing to see.

Winner of the Year 8 Cricket 'Players Player' presented by last Years Sports Personality of the Year.

Before we move onto a whole new sport we have bridging pieces.  Normally these are in the form of inspirational videos, highlights of the students year or special guests.  This year with the Olympic theme, we tried to show off as many 2012 hopefuls as possible to inspire our youngsters.  We were also very lucky to have Jon Tait (@TeamTait) who was an Olympic torch bearer record an excellent video message that went down a treat (and nearly made some staff cry!).  Thank you Jon for doing this it was a very memorable part of the evening.  His two videos are mid way through the above presentation.  Worth a look.

Before the end of the night we then announce the 'Team of the Year'.  This is decided by the PE teachers and isn't only based on successes (and we have a lot!).  It usually becomes a very heated debate when this is decided in our curriculum meeting and rightly so.  We are blessed to have amazing talent and some of the finest young athletes around.  These students behave impeccably at fixtures and are a credit to the school.

Finally, all of the 'Players Player' winners from the night are put forward to the final award.  Any of these 17 students can win the overall 'Sports Personality of the Year' award.  The PE team decide this before hand and secretly vote for their overall personality from the 17 'Players Player' winners.  The winner of this has their name engraved on the prestigious trophy and honours board.  It is also customary that just before the winner is announced, that the winner from the previous year addresses the evening with a speech.

This years winner - Captain of Cricket & Football.  Also a Rugby player and the coach of the Year 7&8 Cricket team.

And afterwards

Gone are the days of the disco.  After the evening is over, we ask the students to retire to our foyer whilst we bring out the pool tables, Wii sports, giant inflatable Bungee Run, inflatable Pugel stick gladiators..... We then invite them back in and let them enjoy themselves!

So why?

We put a lot of effort into sport at Brookfield.  We have tried hard to develop an ethos and culture which we have simply named 'Team Brookfield'.  We encourage recreational activities and then push our school teams.  We have a training night for each sport for all years once a week and we have the simple rule that if you attend training, you are available for team selection.  You do not have to play though if you don't wish - although we have never had this.  We rotate players to ensure everyone plays and experiences competitive sport.  We have older students managing teams, running training or refereeing matches.  We promote fair play and respect.  We instill an idea of effort and commitment.  We try and demonstrate good team work.  The list goes on.  And the reward we get from our amazing youngsters in priceless.  The smiles, moments of brilliance, times of goodwill, fair play, sportsmanship, etiquette, learning from defeat etc are what makes our job special.  From the PE team, we have these awards to say 'Thank you' to our young athletes for all that they have given to our PE department and school.

As a leaving note, I have two quotes/comments.  I asked a colleague (my old NQT buddy) to just sum up her thoughts on the evening:

"The Sports Awards is a chance to celebrate and recognise the achievement and progress Brookfield students make when competing for the school - of which there is always much!  The Sports Awards allow students to have an understanding of the success of other teams and individuals and consequently give them something to aspire to.  I think the look of pride on each of the winners faces and the humility with which they received an award nominated by their team mates is a reason for our Sports Awards - if nothing else for the fab decoration of the Main Hall!"
Fran Bennett

Also, the mother of this years Sports Personality of the Year sent this to us which I think sums up PE, sport and the evening so well:

"Jamie is so pleased with his award and we are so grateful for all the support and encouragement given to him by a lot of the staff at Brookfield particularly the PE dept team.  Sport is very important to Jamie and we believe it teaches so much, not just skill and technique but social, emotional skills and so much more.  Thank you to all."

No comments:

Post a Comment