You’ve just got to give it a try…

I have another confession to make; it’s not quite as big as not paying my voluntary fees, but it’s up there. It leaves me and the kids with time on our hands at the weekends and at a bit of a loss when the conversation takes a particular turn. But to be honest, I don’t lose much sleep over it and secretly I’m quite please – but I don’t say that out loud very often.

We don’t like sport in our family, watching it or playing it. There you go; I said it! It’s not that I’ve got anything against it particularly – I think it’s actually a good thing, especially for the kids – it’s just not our thing.

So it came as a surprise recently when I was watching my kids in the back yard to discover that they had some sporting skills! They could throw – in a number of different ways – and catch and bowl and bat and even dribble and pass a soccer ball. Aah, I thought, that must be Erin’s fault! And as it’s been a while since I’ve blogged about a member of staff I thought I’d catch up with our very own PE teacher, Erin Willett.

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How did you end up with us at Kew Primary, Erin?

Many people don’t remember but I started at Kew Primary School as an emergency teacher in 2009. I’d just moved to Melbourne after living in Geelong for eight years where I’d studied and gone on to teach at Leopold Primary School. I’d been a Year 5 and Year 3 teacher, as well as Year Level Coordinator and Whole School Events Coordinator.

I started doing some emergency teaching while I found my feet in Melbourne and Kew PS was a nearby school. I got many days as Kew as well as other local schools. I found I was really starting to think about switching my teaching focus from the classroom to my other passion and major at university, Health and Physical Education. A part time PE role at Richmond West Primary School was followed by my current job, PE teacher at Kew PS.


Can you tell us a little about what your job entails?

There are many parts to the job of a PE teacher. There is the day to day teaching and planning of classes across all the year levels (just as well I’m good at remembering names!), planning clinics and excursions, maintaining the school equipment, organising Interschool Sport for the senior students, overseeing the Bike Ed program and running our major carnivals, Athletics and Cross Country. It is exhausting and very fulfilling! Skills that are very important are organisation, patience and remaining calm when things don’t always go to plan. I’ve got the first two sorted and continue to work on the third!

So what’s the most important part of your job?

Encouraging participation and sportsmanship are the main focuses of my role. There are many different approaches to being a PE teacher; I choose to work hard on encouraging everyone to give their best effort always, no matter what their best is and support one another to do so.

Students need to feel emotionally safe when playing sport as well as physically. My feedback is important, but just as important is the feedback students give one another. These can both affect their self-esteem and belief about their capabilities for years to come. Adapting lessons to ensure everyone participates and experiences success is key to a meaningful physical education program.


Do you think male and female PE teachers can approach things quite differently?

I remember my PE teachers throughout my schooling and I remember having a few female high school PE teachers, but overall they were predominantly men. I don’t think there are any advantages or disadvantages either way, however I think it can be very powerful for our girls to see female roles models in positions that require a real ‘have-a-go’ approach and stepping outside the square.

I love shooting a basketball or whacking a cricket ball just as much as anyone, and often get my hands dirty! I believe if the students see that it helps show them they can do anything they want; you’ve just got to give it a try.

If you spend all day, all week, doing sport do you ever actually feel like doing any yourself?

I need to know a little bit about a lot of sports and skills, but I’m not a professional at any of them! I played tennis right through primary and high school, took up basketball at uni and then triathlon when I started teaching. I now run regularly and enjoy going to the gym when I have some energy left at the end of a school day! I’m not the best at controlling a soccer ball, and I definitely can’t always kick a footy straight, but I have a go at everything.

At school I’m not afraid to make mistakes or show the kids I’m not perfect. I hope this encourages them to try everything and not be scared if it doesn’t work the first, second or third time. Winning is one thing, but to have a healthy attitude and understanding for life is far more important in my book!

Thanks Erin, and thanks for teaching my girls how to throw and catch properly!

Jacqui Tomlins


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