4 Ways to Use Grit to Teach Skills in PE

In this episode of the PE Express Podcast, Dr. Robert Pangrazi shares how to teach students how to be persistent while learning skills. Listen to the episode below and follow along by reading the article.

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I’ve observed teachers for many years and I’ve kind of randomly put them into two groups. Those teachers that think they need new activities and new games every day to keep kids motivated. Versus those teachers who think it’s their job to physically educate kids and teach skills that they can take with them for the rest of their life.

1. Don’t Fall Prey to NEW, NEW, NEW

It’s pretty exciting as a teacher to bring in a new activity or a new piece of equipment and see how excited youngsters get by the novelty of the new equipment and if you’re not careful as a teacher, you can fall prey to that – thinking that your job is just to go out and find as many new games and new activities to teach kids as possible. That physical education is primarily a play space and your job is just to play with them, motivate them and keep them moving. Certainly there’s some truth about having some excitement like that in your class and I wouldn’t rule that out, but there’s another complete side to that and that is teaching kids skills that they can use for the rest of their life.

2. Introducing Grit to Students

It’s often called grit and grit is the passion and perseverance to achieve long term goals. It predicts that over the long haul grits probably more important than raw talent as a predictor of a youngster’s success. It’s a very long term trait, but the major ingredient is reinforcing deliberate practice.

In other words the concentration and focus it takes to learn that skill and if you don’t give them a lot of opportunities to practice skills over and over and over and realize that repetition is the key to learning skills, particularly repetition with instructional feedback, then you may be shortchanging your students and they leave having a good time but not learning anything.

3. Using Stretch Goals

I think great teachers are always exciting to be around because they’re always teaching hard and trying students to be their best, but if you’re going to teach skills, then you need to teach them grit and deliberate practice and how do you do that? Well, you set and get buy in from your students to clearly define stretch goals. A stretch goal is one that’s slightly out of reach, but one that they think they can achieve if they work hard. Another thing you do is encourage concentration and focus. In some cases I often tell teachers don’t use music while you’re asking them to concentrate and learn a new skill. It’s not any different than teaching math problems and having music going while they’re trying to concentrate on their math. They need a lot of immediate feedback and informative feedback. It has to be right on the spot and it has to tell them exactly what they need to change, what they’re doing well how they can improve their performance.

4. Teach with the 3 R’s

And then of course, I always add, teach with the three R’s: repetition, repetition, repetition, followed by reflection and refinement. In fact, all of skill learning is repeating a skill, reflecting on how you did and refining it to make it better and it is our job to teach skills. So certainly there’s a place for joy in activity and new activities to motivate your youngsters but the flip side is there’s also a very strong place for being a teacher, being someone who teaches skills and teaches kids tools that they can use to be active for the rest of their life. Happy teaching. Thanks for being a teacher. Talk to you soon.

Dr. Pangrazi is an Educational Specialist with Gopher Sport and is a Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. He was the First Executive Director of the Arizona Governor's Council for Health and Fitness,

Dr. Pangrazi is an Educational Specialist with Gopher Sport and is a Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. He was the First Executive Director of the Arizona Governor's Council for Health and Fitness,

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