Posted by Rachael Wiseman

Instructional Decision Making

Over the first four weeks of student teaching, I have learned to make several accommodations to my lesson plans to maximize student learning. Every lesson has room for improvements that can help with student success.

In our tennis unit, I have already made several adjustments. For example, my cooperating teacher has always taught the students to place the tennis racket and ball on the ground on her stopping cue to get the students to freeze and pay attention. I did this the first time I was teaching tennis and didn’t like how the students responded. It either took them too long to put the equipment on the ground or they were being too forceful with the rackets when placing them on the ground. I decided to train the students to hold the tennis ball and hug their racket when they heard the stopping cue. I also had the students practice hugging their rackets in their squad spots before releasing them for activity. Having the students practice this prior to activity ensured that they all knew the expectations. This is a minor adjustment but made a huge difference throughout the lesson so that we could maximize our time with instructions and minimize our time on transitions.

Another instructional adjustment that I made was the placement of students during activity. Initially, I had the students line up facing their partners so that they were facing the center of the gymnasium and their backs were facing the basketball hoops. The activity alone tends to seem a bit chaotic from the outside. When allowing students to practice their sidearm strike with a partner, they are going to struggle to keep in controlled. Especially with the younger students, they haven’t fully developed their sense of control. One of the warmup activities allowed students to practice their sidearm strike against the wall. The wall acted as a great rebound for the students. However, the first position I had the students in did not allow their tennis balls to have the wall act as a rebound. Additionally, with the students placed in this position, they did not have as much personal space which left room for potential injuries. Upon realization of this and discussion with my supervising professor, I decided it would improve the lesson greatly to face them so that their backs were along the walls horizontally. I did this with the next few classes and the results improved. The students were able to limit their scrambling around to chase their tennis balls. This new position also increased the amount of personal space for the students which decreased our risk for injury.

One final change I made in my lesson was how I had students practice their “T” formation for the sidearm strike. The first few times I taught this lesson, I didn’t have students practice the “T” formation until we transitioned to their positions where they would hit against the wall. At this point, students had already been doing other warmup activities with the tennis racket and tennis ball, so they were eager to continue to play. It also made it more difficult to explain the skill when students had two pieces of equipment in their hand. I made the decision to change this after I struggled to keep their attention for this. I decided to give each student a tennis racket while they were still in their squad spots. Without giving them a tennis ball, I had them practice the “T” sidearm strike motion at least three times so that I could ensure every student understood the skill. Giving the students the tennis racket in their squad spots also allowed me to practice the “freeze” cue so they could practice instantly hugging their racket to wait for further instruction. Instructional decision making is an extremely crucial part of physical education and I am grateful for this learning experience.

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