Having just survived my second Ofsted inspection as a college lecturer, I was amazed at how much I had to prepare in terms of paperwork and also what had to be included in lesson plans for them to be given a grade 1 (outstanding) or 2 (very good), as opposed to a grade 4, which is unsatisfactory.
Then it got me thinking. Could some of the lessons learnt from my college inspection be transferred to the group exercise fitness format to improve my classes and presentations. Before our inspection we were given an inspector’s guide to the perfect lesson. So let’s go through this guide and see what we learn from this.
The outstanding lesson consist of the following;
“Teaching is very well planned and all courses have thorough schemes of work”
Lesson to be learnt ; Make sure that your class is well thought out with logical learning curves and that the class fits in with where you want the participants to go. For example if you are doing a conditioning class, where do you want them to be in 2 – 3 months time, how many reps should they be doing with what exercises? Which phase of their training should they be in?
“The aims of the session are displayed and shared with the students at the start.”
Lesson to be learnt; Do your participants know what you expect them to do by the end of the lesson? Research has shown that participants are more focussed when they know what is expected of them.
“Teachers are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the best are inspirational, skilfully imparting their passion to their students.”
Lesson to be learnt; this is a no brainer! Know your stuff, be a good teacher, and teach your classes with enthusiasm and passion!
Variety of teaching strategies
“In the best lessons, teachers use a wide variety of imaginative teaching strategies”
Lesson to be learnt: People learn in different ways so try to vary the way that you deliver your material. Vary how you construct choreography, how you break down your choreography and also think about the different ways of getting your message across, for example use mental and visual images as well as technical instructions
”In the best lessons, activities are devised that will stretch and challenge the more able students and also enable the weaker students to learn effectively.”
Lesson to be learnt; Teach to mixed abilities, offer progressions for the level 3 participants but don’t forget the less skilled that need level 1 or 2 options, especially in classes such as step, aerobics and conditioning
Developing learner skills
“Students learn how to be critical and analytical as well as gaining good subject knowledge.”
Lesson to be learnt; I believe that we are educators as well. So try to educate our class participants into why they are doing certain exercises and how they can improve, especially in conditioning or stretch classes. By developing our learning curves and the way we teach our freestyle classes our learners will improve their motor skills which is an important part of fitness.
“Learning is constantly checked and summarised well at the end of lessons”
Lesson to be learnt; Try to sum up the main points of your class to your people. Tell them the key stretches/ exercises, and things to work on for next lesson. In freestyle classes if you have broken routine down differently tell your participants, and informed them maybe how this will be developed next time.
“ Extra material is available for extension activities”
Lesson to be learnt; maybe give handouts at the end of your session or refer people to websites, so that they can find out more about particular areas of interest. Again for freestyle classes you could direct them to any up and coming conventions or one day events, so that your people can develop themselves and also keep their motivation to exercise.
So as you can see there are many things that we can take from the world of education, that we can use to improve our sessions. To take a phrase from college, “tell them what they will learn, teach them and the tell them what they have learnt.” The tips outlined above will hopefully help maintain your fitness classes to a consistent level 1 or 2. Good luck