Turning a tough lesson into a success

A photograph of Danny Holliday

Danny Holliday,
physical education (PE) teacher

I started in quite a hard school in a deprived area. I taught there for three years and it was tough, but extremely rewarding.

Teaching is a massive responsibility; you’re tasked with working with hundreds of students each day, and they’re placed into your care – that’s quite a demanding responsibility. But it’s part of what you do as a teacher.

Behaviour management skills need to be absolutely spot-on if the students are to learn in your lessons, because there are a lot of barriers that can prevent the students from accessing that learning.

I’ve worked with students who are, almost, PE refusers. Most you manage to get on-side and work with, but some have a preconceived view that it’s not for them.

They arrived to the lesson – a rugby lesson – and they detested the idea. It took a lot of work, a great deal of effort to turn their minds around and see what the sport could offer them.

These year 10s had arrived with the view that they weren’t going to do rugby and that it wasn’t for them.

Once we got out to the field, they weren’t prepared to take part at all. I had to start my lesson with a talk about how I would deliver the lesson in a way that’s accessible to them, that they could enjoy. I basically asked them to give me a chance, to go with it and see how they get on.

There’s so many different things you can do with rugby – you take out that physical side of the game and it’s still competitive, it still requires the same skills.

That lesson had been quite a challenge for me to turn around, and – seeing them turn up to play rugby in their own time – I really felt like I’d achieved something.

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