5 Mid-Year Reflections During COVID-19

Colorful New Year Twitter Post 1 1

Depending on where you are located in the U.S. you may be fast approaching the mid-point of the school year.  No matter what the year looks like for you, it is important to re-evaluate how things are going in your program.  Anything can be tweaked or modified to benefit your students. 

The list below are some tips that may help you as you reflect on the school year:

1. Keep What’s Working, Bag Ones That Don’t.

Ok, this year isn’t quite like all the others before it.  That does not mean what you are teaching isn’t working for your students.  Reflect on how your lessons went.  Was there something that really worked well for your students?  If so, perhaps try various ways to incorporate similar techniques in your classes. 

Can you expand on techniques/strategies/concepts?  One example may be the use of gamification.  If your classes are taking to that style of activity, perhaps increase the number of times you use it, or add additional levels of difficulty. 

What didn’t work?

I reflect back to one of my virtual warm-ups where we did a version of “Secret Agent” to get the kids the opportunity to lead us through activity.  One of my classes had a very difficult time and seemed to not take to it as well as I believe they should have.  After several tries, if it isn’t working, drop it and move on.

2. Focus on the Positive/ Change Your Mindset.

This is not a wasted year.  I have heard colleagues say that, and I understand what they mean.  However, I would disagree.  Yes this year has been difficult and completely changed the way we teach.  That does not mean it has been a waste of time.  Like you, I have tried to make the best of it for my students and myself.  I have told myself that I am employed and alive (some are not), and I want my kids to flourish in this environment.  It is what it is for this situation, good or bad.  My students are still learning concepts, staying active and hopefully having fun while doing it.  Even though some students may be poorly coping with the pandemic, you can provide them a sense of stability and positivity for them.  If you come across as negative, not wanting to be there, or lackadaisical in your teaching, they will pick up on that.

This year has been difficult and completely changed the way we teach #PhysEd.  That does not mean it has been a waste of time. My students are still learning concepts, staying active, and hopefully having fun while doing it.  @donntobin Click To Tweet

3. Reach Out to Others.

I am not talking about contacting a mental health professional (although you should if you need it).  I mean reach out to colleagues who are also in the same circumstances as you.  There is an adage that you should surround yourself with people who are better than you, who look to strive forward in the profession.  I sure do.  These people are also dealing with the challenges of pandemic teaching, and they might have many successes that can be incorporated in your program. 

I utilize Twitter, my professional organizations (state and national), as well as my friends who are in physical education.  They may see a way to work around a challenge or come up with something that has motivated their students.  If I think about it, my students do not care where I got a teaching strategy or activity from.  If a colleague is doing something that has been successful in their program, why can’t it in mine?

4. Adjust Your Time Frame.

My district is on a hybrid model of instruction, split into two cohorts.  Each cohort has a 3 day/ 2 day in-person weekly rotation.  If the school needs to shut down or quarantine for any period of time, this changes things.  This sudden switch may interfere with what I am teaching in my curriculum.  SO WHAT? 

Does that mean I have to wait or do an activity 2-3 times longer because I have to wait until they are back in school?  Not necessarily.  I can choose to tie-in with my virtual instruction, post assignments on their Google Classroom, or consolidate techniques when I next see them in the gymnasium.  Being flexible with your scope and sequence is super important and will save you from stress later on. 

5. Stay on Top of Parent Communication.

I have found a ton of my parents are completely stressed and overwhelmed.  Everyone is dealing with their situation differently.  Families are dealing with remote learning in many different ways: at home, with extended family, at daycare, at mom/dad’s work, other locations, etc.  I do not wish to further overwhelm them, however, I try to be as transparent as possible. So far I have communicated to my parents/ guardians as best as I can.  I have left voice messages, sent emails, communicated and posted messages via Google Classroom.  What I have found is that some parents are receptive to this while others have ignored me.  In my opinion, as long as you communicate clearly and check in from time to time, you are doing your due diligence as a teacher. 

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