Matthew Pollock - Al Bateen

“You don’t stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing.” – Unknown

For many students, Physical education (Pe) is mainly one of two things: a time of great enjoyment or a time that they would rather spend doing something less active. Mr Matthew Pollock, Head of Physical Education at Al Bateen Secondary School has employed creative ways to ensure that his students not only enjoy their PE sessions, but also look forward to them with excitement and anticipation.

As an educator with over ten years of teaching under his belt, he integrates a number of useful strategies in his lessons,to keep his students alert and drive them to excel in the subject. He also plans school activities that focus on promoting good health practices among staff members and students. He is also a member of the school’s committee, which spearheads a whole school Olympics to be held on February 5, 2015. The entire school will join in a range of sporting activities that are tailored to ensure that everyone can participate in some way. Activities include football, athletics, an obstacle course, beach volleyball and swimming among others.

Mr Pollock, originally from Yorkshire dales in the UK, now the doting father of a 13-month-old son, shares with Teach UAE Magazine some of his tips and strategies for engaging students during PE classes.

Why did you become a teacher?

Teaching allows me to do the things I enjoy the most. I was always interested in playing sports since I was at school and I enjoyed the school environment. I enjoy helping people and seeing them make progress.

What are two ways in which you encourage your students to participate in sports while maintaining academic excellence?

I encourage my students by creating opportunities for them to play sports within the school environment – whether it is after school in school teams (as part of the CAS Programme), or internally in House teams or in PE lessons. All students are involved in some way. We try to make all students aware of the benefits of playing sports, which encourage teamwork, perseverance, communication and organisation. Generally, students enjoy playing sports, and we encourage more of it because it makes them happier.

Share with us four successful sporting activities that are popular among your students. Why are they popular?

Four sporting activities that are very popular among my students are:

  • Football: it’s the National Sport of the UAE and is popular with parents.
  • Rugby/Touch Rugby: this requires a level of bravery and commitment, different to that of other sports.
  • Netball: it’s great for girls to develop teamwork, communication and respect.
  • Swimming: it demands discipline, a high level of commitment and training at unsociable hours.
In a society that is increasingly focused on technology, many students are spending a lot more time on their phones, tablets and computers playing games. How do you get your students excited about extracurricular activities?

We make the activities fun. If it’s fun, the students are always keen to take part. We also try to educate them to make them aware of why we are encouraging it. Students know that when a person feels as part of a team or something greater than oneself,the body slowly releases a hormone called Serotonin.

This induces a feeling of belonging. On the other hand, when they spend time on their gadgets the hormone Dopamine is released, which is linked to addiction. Mr Pollock has a very busy year ahead. However, he is already taking it in his stride by ensuring that he stays healthy and happy as he concentrates on motivating his students to succeed both academically and in their personal development.

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