Assistant Professor in Physical Education Teaching
School of Physical Education and Sport Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Effective facilitation is a difficult task since it requires teachers to transform the edges of their traditional practice and not only go around immediate lesson concerns and managerial issues. With a focus on students and their needs, teachers have to be able to frame learning in ways that students recognize what they already know and what they have to know in order to be able to play the game effectively. Summarizing, encouraging, questioning, idea exchange and consensus building are essential facilitation skills for team-based learning. For many PE teachers, the adoption of such an instructional stance is experienced as a complex professional endeavor, one that involves changes at various levels, ranging from the use of materials for planning and delivering instruction, to the alteration of their beliefs. Dilemmas that PE teachers may face during their move to the facilitator’s position include time and resource shortages, trust and confidence in their abilities to move forward, as well as a lack of comfort to balance between the roles of the “lesson’s leader” and the “students’ follower”. Research further shows that for change to be authentic and not experienced at a surface level, the core values of prospective TGfU teachers need to be challenged. As such, substantial time for interaction, idea and resource sharing is needed.
Being part of a community or a working team of like-minded colleagues and sharing experiences of personal successes or struggles proves to be rather beneficial for teachers that want to fill knowledge deficits and pave their way to change. Community based learning provides a capacity building structure that is coherent to teachers’ needs and thus more authentic. Although labor and time intensive, community-based learning is a worthwhile endeavor for promoting teacher success, and providing opportunities for knowledge building rather than knowledge dispersing.
From the position of a committed advocate of the TGfU approach, I would strongly recommend for the establishment of regional collaborative TGfU community networks within which PE teachers could learn how to facilitate game-based instruction through social learning practices. Community based learning could involve continuous cycles of meeting, establishing direction, hands-on-work, sharing and evaluating TGfU strategies. The latter would allow PE teachers to collectively reflect on situations that arise in their practice and decide on teaching practices that are not merely technical but rather authentic and applied.
At an organizing level, the TGfU SIG could provide guidelines and standards in order to assist regional communities to plan, deliver and evaluate the impact of their initiatives. Further, a repository of shared best TGfU practices could provide points of reference for debating and comparing alternatives in usable and appropriate ways. National workshops, seminars and community publications could further raise PE teachers’ awareness on how to facilitate instruction while persevering energy and commitment to improve their TGfU teaching and personally advance within it.
Though the virus pandemic has put stress on PE teachers’ efforts to maintain continuity of game-based instruction, some unique challenges have arisen concerning TGfU professional development programming. From my point of view, it is a perfect time for collaboration and community networking. The launching of online workshops and initiatives could support PE teachers in a remote “learning by doing” style and provide guidance on facilitation skill development in a timely manner (i.e. sessions focusing on skills such as leadership, questioning, problem solving, management, communication, conflict resolution). Geared towards future TGfU action, such skills are definitely needed for effectively directing student learning and building high performance group instruction and course development.