Implementing tpsr model in physical education: benefits of a self-supervision process
Responsibility development is a key feature of the Province of Québec’s elementary school curriculum (PFEQ). However, it does not provide PE teachers with clear indications on how to teach responsibility development in their settings. PE teachers could benefit from implementing a responsibility model to create positive responsibility development in PE. Yet, training methods should go beyond sporadic ‘one-shot’ workshops, which are unlikely to have impact upon teachers’ practice. The purpose of this communication is to present the benefits of a self-supervision process to implement TPSR model in a Québec elementary school setting. An action research was conducted during the 2008-2009 school year, including a six-month self-supervision process. Data included participant observations (n=7), semi-directed interviews (n=5) and after-class reflections (n=18). Namely, results show that TPSR implementation was facilitated by systematic reflection-on-action, which focused on responsibility development themes and strategies. It confirms the findings of Sinelnikov (2009), that regular reflection-on-action as well as debriefing sessions provide PE teachers with the necessary feedback when introducing a new curriculum model. Therefore, self-supervision could be an effective professional development strategy and an interesting alternative to ‘one-shot’ workshops.
Responsibility development is a key feature of the Province of Québec’s elementary school curriculum (PFEQ), as well as other curriculums around the world (Hellison & Martinek, 2006). Because of its highly interactive context, physical education (PE) programs provide students with opportunities to take responsibility for themselves and others (Hellison & Martinek, 2006). Nevertheless, PE teachers are responsible for creating an environment in which students may learn and experience responsible behaviors and attitudes. However, despite its focus on responsibility development, the PFEQ does not provide them with clear indications on how to teach responsibility in their settings. PE teachers could benefit from implementing a responsibility model to create positive responsibility development opportunities in PE (Metzler, 2005). Yet, several researches suggest that sporadic ‘one-shot’ workshops are unlikely to have impact upon teachers’ practice (i.e. Armour & Yelling, 2004; Martinek & Hellison, 2009). Then, what type of professional development strategy might help PE teachers implement a responsibility model in their settings to ensure that their students will experience positive responsibility development opportunities?
Area of study
Professional development’s area of study implies development and experimentation of pre-service and in-service training strategies to develop PE teachers’ professional expertise. Duration, active learning, content focus and coherence are, amongst others, factors for an effective professional development (Birman et al., 2000). Thus, the field of supervision offers plenty of strategies that meet these criteria and are able to help teachers develop their expertise. Some types of supervision focus on problem solving in partnership with an external helper (i.e. clinical supervision). Still, it might create a dependence relationship between the supervisor and supervisee. Others imply direct instruction and are meant to insure an efficient program application (i.e. classical supervision).These types of supervision are quickly limited because they do not enable supervisee’s empowerment and leadership, as well as hinder innovative strategies development. However, in a context of teaching act professionalization, a supervision model which supports PE teachers in becoming accountable for their professional development seems necessary. Besides, a responsibility development intent implies the use of a model that underlies similar values, whether empowerment, self-reflection, leadership or transfer. A self-supervision model (Brunelle et al., 1991) was chosen in this study to help responsibility development. Many studies showed that this model is efficient to help teachers improve several teaching and learning conditions, to the extent of the supervisee’s capacity to be self-directed and to self-reflect on his practice (i.e. Brunelle et al., 1991; Spallanzani & Robillard, 1995; Roy et al., 2010).
Responsibility development could be facilitated by using a model that provides clear indications on how to create positive opportunities to learn and experiment responsible behaviors and attitudes in PE. Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR) model offers a holistic approach to teaching and is considered as one of the best-articulated models for promoting social development through physical education (Shields & Bredemeier, 1995). Its purpose is to provide a framework that teaches students to take more responsibility for their own and others’ well-being (Hellison, Martinek & Cutforth, 1996). The model suggests five developmental responsibility goals (Hellison, 2003). (1) Respect and self-control is a prerequisite for any teaching and learning to occur. It implies to control one’s attitude and behavior in a way that respects the rights and feelings of others. (2) Participation and effort, focuses on one’s involvement in an activity. Trying hard to succeed, being self-motivated and participating with enthusiasm are some behaviors and attitudes related to this goal. (3) Self-direction, involves completing tasks without teacher supervision, to set goals and self-assess. It also relates to being able to resist negative external influences, which is a difficult goal to achieve for some, especially in a context of gang influences. (4) Leadership and caring, implies to listen, respond and recognize the rights and feelings of others, as well as to show positive initiatives. To experience leadership roles like coaching a warm-up or an exercise is an effective strategy for one working to achieve this responsibility goal. Finally, (5) transfer outside the gym involves achieving all the previous goals in a community setting. To be a good role model for his siblings is an example of transfer outside the gym.
Moreover, five themes represent the essence of teaching responsibility in PE. The first and foremost important is to develop a respectful ‘kids first relationship’ with students. As Hellison (2003) states: ‘none of these things matter if you don’t develop a certain kind of relationship with your students’ (p.21). The key for teachers is to recognize that each student has strengths, knows things that they ignore, has the capacity to make good decisions for himself and deserves to be treated as an individual. A second theme relates to the integration of responsibility to physical activity, instead of being taught separately. In other words, PE teachers must be competent in teaching physical activity content, but also in seizing potential responsibility development opportunities that occur during the session. Therefore, activities must be built to allow decision making on behaviors and attitudes related to every responsibility goal. Third, teachers must gradually empower students to make positive decisions for themselves and others. In this perspective, teachers become facilitators, gradually shifting power from themselves to their students, which for some might be a major paradigm shift (Wright, 2001). To promote group and self-reflection involves providing students with multiple opportunities to self-reflect on responsibility goals and to improve problem solving abilities through empowerment. Finally, transfer is ‘probably the ultimate point of teaching kids to take personal and social responsibility’ (Hellison, 2003, p.19). For PE teachers, transfer implies to teach students how to be personally and socially responsible in various settings. Useful strategies might be to ask them about their personal life and choices outside the gym or to get in touch with their parents and other teachers. For transfer to be efficient, students ought to feel that their PE teacher cares about what they are doing outside the gym.
TPSR implementation through self-supervision
Brunelle and colleagues (1991) self-supervision model invites the PE teacher to reflect on actual teaching and learning conditions according to an effective responsibility development theory framework. Figure 1 shows an illustration of a self-supervision model which supports TPSR implementation.
A first step consists of the introduction of TPSR and self-supervision models. Specifically, it trains the PE teacher to diagnose actual teaching-learning settings in terms of responsibility development opportunities and to elaborate potential effective strategies to upgrade these opportunities. Then, as a second step, several self-supervision initiation cycles are conducted to support TPSR implementation. At each step, the PE teacher is invited to reflect on responsibility development conditions and strategies offered during the class. A sequence of cycles, done by himself or in partnership with a supervisor, gradually helps the PE teacher to adapt and modify his practice. Throughout step 2, a refresh of TPSR or self-supervision’s basic concepts might be needed. Thus, according to the PE teacher’s needs, additional information could be given to facilitate TPSR field implementation through self-supervision.
Figure 1. Self-supervision model (Adapted from Brunelle, Coulibaly, Brunelle, Martel & Spallanzani, 1991)
Two specific objectives are pursued within this study: (1) to implement TPSR model in partnership with a PE elementary school teacher through a self-supervision process and (2) to document TPSR implementation process.
The purpose of this communication is to present the benefits of a self-supervision process to implement TPSR model in a Québec elementary school setting.
An action research was conducted during the 2008-2009 school year, including a six-month self-supervision process.
Participants included Robert, a 25 year-old novice PE teacher in his second year of teaching, whose responsibility was to implement TPSR model through self-supervision in his setting, and a doctoral candidate, who was responsible for supervising and documenting the PE teacher’s process. An advisory comity, involving two supervision experts faculty, supervised the action research.
Robert teaches in an urban elementary school, located in an underserved community. A class of 6th graders is selected for the study. Twenty 11 to 12-year-olds, ten boys and ten girls, are involved in this class.
To document TPSR implementation process, data included participant observations, semi-directed interviews and after-class reflections. During participant observations, the researcher was in the gymnasium and observed the selected class’s PE lesson. To get a better understanding of the school context, she also closely followed Robert throughout the school-day as he taught to other classes. Data on responsibility development conditions and strategies was collected through a journal. During Robert’s self-supervision process, more than 50 hours were devoted to participant observations, whose data were reported in a 100-page journal.
Then, to support TPSR implementation, Robert was invited to analyse responsibility development conditions and strategies offered during the class through four semi-directed interviews with the researcher. Moreover, after-class reflections were self-recorded by Robert and followed the same canvas as semi-directed interviews. He conducted a total of 18 after-class reflections over the six-month self-supervision process. A final interview was conducted at the end of the school year to reflect on and evaluate TPSR implementation process. A total of seven hours were devoted to semi-directed interviews and after-class reflections.
To document TPSR implementation process, data were transcribed verbatim and analysed through content analysis (Paillé & Mucchielli, 2008). It also led to the identification of several benefits associated with the use of self-supervision to implement TPSR model.
Action research trustworthiness criteria (Savoie-Zajc, 2001) were respected throughout this project to insure its rigor and quality. For example, Robert was involved in each step of the study, from the initial phase to the corroboration of findings. Data included different sources, namely Robert himself, with his answers to semi-directed interviews and his after-class reflections, participant observations conducted by the doctoral candidate and semi-directed interviews that where held periodically with selected students. Moreover, an advisory committee met regularly with the researcher to validate and support each step of the action research.
Robert’s self-supervision calendar (figure 2) offers an overlook of data collection’s nature, length and intensity. It shows that Robert started self-recording after-class reflections immediately after he was introduced to TPSR and self-supervision. Meanwhile, as TPSR implementation occurred, the researcher’s support decreased in consequence of Robert’s empowerment. Indeed, Robert devoted a total of four hours to after-class reflections, which represents three hours more than the time devoted to semi-directed interviews (n=4) during the six-month self-supervision period.
Figure 2. Self-supervision calendar
Furthermore, data analysis led to the identification of several benefits that Robert experienced through self-supervision and that support him implementing TPSR model.
In Robert’s case, TPSR implementation was facilitated by systematic reflection-on-action, which focused on responsibility development themes and strategies. The following is an example that occurred at the beginning of the self-supervision process. Robert had discussed TPSR’s goals with his students during the previous class and was reflecting on his teaching strategies’ efficiency to help his students self-reflect on their own goals. During a semi-directed interview, he said:
I could have asked them ‘where do you think you are now?’ or things like that, because I had just taught them the goals. And not only to those that are struggling with level 1, that have a hard time just to control themselves but, you know, also to those that are already self-directed. That’s the kind of intervention I should have done today… but I didn’t. (Robert, semi-directed interview, Feb 2nd)
However, during the next class, Robert introduced a new strategy, a self-assessment system, which helped students self-reflect on their responsibility development goals. Upon their arrival in the gymnasium, students were invited to select a responsibility goal they wanted to achieve during the class, namely self-control and respect (1), participation and effort (2), self-direction (3) or leadership (4). They had to write it down next to their name on a class list hanging at the gym’s entrance. At the end of the class, Robert asked each student individually if they had achieved their goal today and then, wrote it down in his teacher’s notebook. If not, he asked the student for one strategy to make the goal easier to achieve during next class. If so, he congratulated the student and invited him or her to set an even higher goal for next time. This system was quickly accepted by Robert’s class and was conducted until the end of the school year.
Moreover, to audio-tape each after-class reflection was very helpful to acknowledge the problem, and then, to act accordingly. Here is an excerpt of the researcher’s journal, which reports an informal discussion that occurred with Robert about after-class reflections.
Out of the record, Robert told me how after-class reflections were useful to him throughout the year. After I told him he had self-recorded 18 times, he was chocked and told me he never thought he did so many. He also told me that it forced him to write down stuff he did during class and to find new solutions when things didn’t work the way they were intended. He said that it had helped him not only to implement TPSR model, but his overall teaching as well. (Researcher’s journal, June 11th)
Thus, the use of self-supervision created a routine, which helped Robert to reflect on and adapt his teaching methods for responsibility development. Systematic reflection-on-action also confronted Robert to his limits, leading him to seek for external help when needed. During the final semi-directed interview, he said:
Doing after-class reflections… questioning myself… it frustrated me sometimes, because class didn’t go well and I had to recognize it was bad. But it helped me improve. It led me to seek for external help, because I knew I needed it to solve my problems. (Robert, final semi-directed interview, July 10th).
Indeed, Robert created a partnership with a special educator technician, which helped him better understand oppositional problems and improve his relationship with one of his student.
Results showed that the use of a self-supervision process can be effective to implement TPSR model in a PE setting. It confirms the findings of Sinelnikov (2009), that regular reflection-on-action as well as debriefing sessions provide PE teachers with the necessary feedback when introducing a new curriculum model.
Furthermore, Attard & Armour (2006), as well as Brouwer and Korthagen (2005), stated that there is a lack of in-depth in situ research, over a sustained period of time, on the reflective process conducted by teachers engaged in a professional development strategy. From a research standpoint, using a self-supervision strategy allowed the documentation of Robert’s experience during TPSR implementation. It might provide an effective research strategy to better understand teachers’ experiences of professional development and, therefore, provide in-service training opportunities that are better adapted to teachers’ needs.
Although self-supervision seems to be a fruitful professional development strategy, its effectiveness requires great commitment from the PE teacher, which supports previous findings that active implication is essential to increase knowledge and change practices (Birman et al., 2000). Nevertheless, implementing a new curriculum model should be considered as an interesting alternative to ‘one-shot’ workshops.
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