The global health situation is making teachers adapt to the so-called new normal. The world of education, in fact, is in the midst of a crash course in remote learning, and it’s largely failing. A recent survey found that only 1 in 5 schools met the standards for rigorous remote learning. This means that only 20% of some 250 school districts surveyed offer teacher-directed and synchronous online instructional platforms that explicitly require student attendance, along with graded remote tasks and direct teacher-student contact.
It’s not surprising that lots of schools are struggling to offer rigorous remote learning. Change can be a challenge, and to do it in a time of crisis just complicates matters, as administrators and teachers are finding out now. But Dr. Robert Pangrazi was right in saying that change is the only constant in this world. Such reality is never truer than in the world of education, which is being changed fundamentally by the current situation.
Why you need to adapt
Today, there is an increasing emphasis on teaching online, and that can be doubly difficult for PE teachers. The biggest challenge, according to the Tallassee Tribune, is coming up with engaging activities given not only physical distance restrictions but also distance learning limitations, like the absence of fitness or sports equipment and the lack of adequate space to get moving.
Challenges notwithstanding, you’ll need to adapt, just as PE teacher Jeanne Shirley and her peers have done, because students need physical activity even in this new normal. By adapting, you’ll then be able to provide your students continued guidance in terms of getting them to move about and stay fit without personal interaction and hands-on teaching.
Adapting will also keep you relevant — and ahead of the curve. Moving forward, there’s a likelihood that distance learning will become part of the American educational system, not as a replacement to face-to-face classes, but as a supplement (as in hybrid learning). In response, schools will likely require their teachers to adapt accordingly, so they, too, can offer remote learning options where necessary. When you adapt now, you’ll be ready by the time hybrid learning becomes part of the new normal.
How you can adapt
Now that you know why, here’s the how:
1. Create physical activity videos for your students to follow
One thing PE teachers are doing more today is sending their students detailed instructions on what to do, along with links to YouTube for video demonstrations. While you can do that, why not create your own videos showing students how to do a particular exercise, or how to practice a certain move? Then, you can post these videos on your school’s website, or on its own learning management system, and even on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. This way, you’ll have more control over how the instructions are presented and can go at a speed best suited for your students.
2. Use applications
Another trick is to let students download certain applications. In this way, you can give them pre-prepared physical activities that are made by experts just like you. However, choosing the right app is crucial to benefit your students. Those teaching middle school or high school PE, for instance, can download the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) app, which provides detailed steps on how to perform strength-based exercises correctly. The NSCA state director Victor Kizer is also the director for Maryville University’s exercise science program, and has outlined at the university how app-based and video technology can help students study movement, fitness, training, and performance. This shows how even though it is a different style of teaching, it is still effective. For programs aimed at younger students, you can also use any of the 10 free PE apps we listed here previously, including Swork-It Kids (full of kid-friendly exercises for agility, flexibility, and balance) and Sweat Deck (for habit-forming physical activities).
3. Try out online meeting platforms
For something more synchronous and interactive, PE teachers can lean on online meeting platforms, like Google Classroom, Zoom, or the various learning platforms used by schools. Fortunately using such platforms isn’t at all difficult, as it’s just like filming yourself, only with your students watching you in real-time. The real challenge, says PE instructor Paul Pecor from Porters Point School, is figuring out how to get students moving using such platforms only. You’ll need to get creative for this one, and even think out of the box given space, equipment, and personal interaction limitations.
These will likely all be new to you, and will have you spending more time on the computer than you ever have. But we trust that you’ll be able to adjust and adapt for your students.