“I’m an experienced primary school PE teacher…


Teacher Sean de Morton getting kids excited about PEI love physical education and totally get the health benefits of physical activity, but I just couldn’t seem to convey this enthusiasm to my students. For six years I struggled to motivate many of my students, especially those that really needed to move their bodies.

In their words, all they saw was ‘skills and drills.’ Forcing my students to get involved was hard work and the students resented me for this, often preferring to sit out than actively participate.

In 2015, following a series of training programs with playmeo, I figured I had nothing to lose and decided to adopt a new approach. I would dedicate the first few days of a new school year to purposefully build and strengthen the relationships of each class of students, first, before teaching any curriculum.

I was sold on the idea that this would create a more positive atmosphere in which the students could play.

My principal was not convinced, nor were my peers. Everyone knows the school calendar is crammed, so how could I possibly “give up” several days of the curriculum to focus on playing games.

Thankfully, my argument was persuasive and I was permitted to give it a go. The impact was dramatic.

Here’s what I noticed…

My classes suddenly became a lot more fun which encouraged a new level of participation. More students were willing to give something a go because (I think) they felt more supported, no matter what happened. Those first three days fostered a greater sense of connectedness and belonging, which in my opinion, was critical to building a happier classroom for everyone.

These days, it’s so awesome, I’m allowed to dedicate up to 10 days of the first term to building relationships and teaching SEL (social-emotional learning skills.)

And even though I’ve ‘given up’ a lot of time, I’m actually getting more done by the year’s end because I don’t have to manage as many dysfunctional behaviours in class any more. A win-win for everyone…”

Sean, PE Teacher, Australia

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