What I’ve Learnt: Angela Ponton 

September 1, 2018

Angela Ponton, who has 18 years’ teaching experience, is director of sport at The Royal Grammar School Newcastle. In the role, she oversees sport across both the junior and senior school (boys and girls), which includes managing staff involved in curricular and extra-curricular activities and shaping the vision for sport in the school

Be adaptable. I remember in my first job being given a very challenging Year 9 boys’ class. I had meticulously planned my first lesson with them and as soon as I entered the gym to begin, I realised what I had planned was going to be totally inappropriate. I had to completely change what I was going to do, even the activity. It was the most valuable lesson I have learnt to date and I still remember the name of every boy in that class.

Change with the times. As I’ve progressed through my career, my style and ethos has changed as the world of teaching and sport has developed. At the beginning I thought it was important to follow set structured schemes of work for individual sports with key ‘Learning Objectives’. Now I realise the importance of teaching core values which can come across in many different situations and activities, meaning a drill or task doesn’t need to be done in a certain way with certain equipment and instructions. I’m a big fan of the RFU C.A.R.D.S. The acronym stands for Creativity, Awareness, Resilience, Decision Making and Self Organisation. These skills can be focused on in any sports scenario to develop well-rounded students, both on and off the sports field. I feel this can be applied to all areas of teaching and can create a learning environment where students feel challenged and empowered.

Everyone measures success differently. For some, being selected for national representation is a success, for others, it might be being selected to play for the second XI Hockey team. Regardless, a good attitude is an important quality to have.

Variety is important in any sports programme – especially those aimed at young people. I read a recent article about Harry Maguire’s success that really sums this idea up and it’s something we are keen to replicate in our sports programme and instil in our students. Quite often, students and parents feel that their focus should only be on one sport to achieve success. Changing that perception can be hard.

Sport should be fun and enjoyable. This can promote confidence and at any level students need to feel confident. It is important that sports teachers provide the right environment and activities to promote enjoyment for students, enabling them to be confident about themselves and what they are doing and achieving their goals.
I like to encourage students to find something they enjoy. We are very lucky to have fantastic facilities available to all at the RGS and we can offer lots of different activities alongside the more traditional sports. Hopefully there is something for everyone, which will encourage lifelong participation.

Lead by example and encourage a positive working environment where staff are encouraged to try new ideas and not be afraid to get it wrong. In teaching, it is important to realise that we are always learning and we are never a finished article. Teaching methods and ideas change all the time and it is important that we keep up with this change to ensure we are doing the best we can.

There is no right or wrong way of doing things. Teachers must be open minded and accepting of new ideas and change to ensure we continue to put the students’ best interests at the heart of everything we do, so we develop well-rounded individuals.

Society needs more female role models in sport in the form of coaches, volunteers and sports personalities. Female sport needs to be in the public eye more. That must start from grass roots level. It’s going the right way, but more needs to be done.

Royal Grammar School Newcastle

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