The word differentiation is used a lot in teaching circle and is often a hot topic for Ofsted when they examine the quality of teaching within a school. Coaching is no different, we have the same massive gaps in ability and the same expectation to deliver excellent provision.
Differentiation put simply means, planning and coaching a session that can be access by every child involved. Here are a few ways we tackle it at Go Active;
- We think carefully about grouping as this underpins a lot of the session. Through understanding the personalities and aptitude of our children we can engage both high and low ability;
- E.G. A coach teaching a year 5 class gymnastics this year decided to pair his low ability students with some of the more confident children in their class. The end result was incredible. All of the lower ability pupils positively responded to their pairings, they were able to have the content of the lesson reinforced and personally presented to them by their more confident partners. The higher ability children had also been challenged through the process of teaching the techniques and moves needed to produce their joint gymnastic routine.
- We use questioning as a very powerful tool. Asking ‘open’ (Questions that have more than a yes/no answer) questions to prompt learning and deepen understanding. We provided opportunities for children to question each other about the learning, teaching them how to communicate effectively with one another.
- Adapt our coaching approaches. Each child responds slightly differently to a coaches input and natural style, which is why we encourage our coaches to tailor their approaches according to the needs presented to them. That might include how they try to teach new content or how they keep control of the children. A one size fits all approach does NOT work and only leads to disengaged kids.
- Using resources wisely. Any good coach will have this skill already well engrained into their everyday practise. For example, a child that is struggling to catch could use a bigger ball to get the muscle memory and confidence needed to keep progressing. Using a variety of equipment does not only help support learning, but also helps challenge and push the most advanced children in your class. You may for example use a smaller target or ball to increase difficulty.
- We facilitate the different paces of learning. The criteria for success is managed in a similar way to the resources allowing us to remove all barrier to aid continued learning. There is no greater feeling for a coach than helping a child achieve something they considered to be unachievable before your coaching. In a recent case an older KS2 child learnt (with adult assistance) how to do a front roll for the first time and although for this child they had smashed their success criteria, for the majority of his classmate this would not have been enough for them to have achieved their own bespoke criteria’s.
There are many deeply entrenched traits that our coaches rely on to constantly produced well differentiated content and the use of both self and peer feedback helps our coaches grow still further. I hope that the aforementioned gives you a brief insight into the efforts made by Go Active to offer and sustain extremely high quality coaching.