Occam’s Razor — Search for the answer with the simplest and smallest set of elements to solve the problem at hand. Attendance is possibly the easiest and best way to ensure program success. For those in PE, you’re probably already required to track or record attendance, but is attendance being shown for anything more than just a headcount? In this, I hope to spark some ideas that will lead to changing conversations with admin, parents, students, or whoever the stakeholders are!
Let’s take a half step back and ask: “What is data for?” Almost always it should be the centerpiece of a conversation. It’s much easier to call a meeting when you lead with, “I have some interesting information I have been looking at, let’s talk about this,” as opposed to having a “meeting just to meet,” which we could all use less of.
Using attendance data, you can combine that with your planner and identify what students are reacting well too in your plan. Did you see an uptick in attendance after implementing a specific plan, day, change in approach? Bring that to your admin to show that not only is your plan causing a positive effect, but there could be a case for more resources to continue on that plan you’ve implemented.
Attendance can be used to track a group of students’ progress through the years. Grade 6, moving on to Grade 7, well how did their attendance track year over year? What changed for that group in particular? How did they compare to last year’s Grade 7? Were there new changes in the curriculum that you had control over, or was it sent to you?
Beyond just the year, we can group athletes by class type as well! Do you offer a weight training class in place of PE? Does that get more traction than your standard PE class? Showcase that! Group the data beyond just the year. Tagging a person with multiple categories can lead to interesting comparisons – Grade 10 | Weight Training | 9AM MW – We now have 3 group types to showcase data – Grade | Class Type | Time of Day.
I want to see the data for Grade 10 comparing those in weight training and not in weight training. Grade 10 who had weight training last year in grade 9 vs. those who did not have weight training in grade 9 and how they continued to make strides year over year. Maybe even time of day drastically affects attendance! Consistency is a compounding effect; everyone in the fitness, training, coaching industry knows that, but parents, admin, students don’t always grasp that. Proper attendance and grouping to show importance of that along with a form of physical evaluation will drive that point home.
So, without much change in what we collect, because for most, attendance is a mandatory metric to gather, some sort of evaluation may be mandatory to capture, education plans might be necessary to hand in. We can take all 3 of those things and change the way we center our attention around them. Attendance is more than just “I have 12 today and had 9 yesterday.” Who are those 12 is the important question for you here. What is the plan for this week and how did my attendance reflect in the students’ approach to the class? Grade 7 seems really interested in autonomy over sporting game decisions, grade 8 not so much?
And finally, an objective measure of improvement. Maybe attendance is the first hurdle here and we don’t need to look into adding a physical component to the evaluation. Eventually it would be nice to showcase which components lead to the best improvement of movement capabilities.
The biggest takeaway in collecting and showing information has always been “I have a plan, I need to know if the plan is working, and if it’s not, I have a plan to fix it.” In my time sending reports to coaches, athletes, clients, and parents, it’s obviously much more enjoyable when the results are positive but if they are not, showcasing that you have a plan to remedy it or are willing to talk through different scenarios to solve the present issues is what helped to set my work apart. You’ll gain respect for the sheer willingness to identify a problem and be a part of a solution.