March 12, 2020… That’s the last time I had PE class with my students at Midd-West High School in Middleburg, PA. 2 weeks. It seems like an eternity for me, and I am sure it does for them as well. And like us, many of you have not had the chance to meet face-to-face with your students to have PE class or just share life’s moments. I am not sure what other states or even school districts are doing to help meet the needs of their students academically, but let me share some ideas!
First though let me encourage you to be a superhero! Our students need us right now as much as we need them! They are stressed about a lot of things, just as we are. They are worried about grades, graduation, sports, prom, and more importantly, life in general. Our job as educators has always been to help, protect, and encourage our students no matter what. Well, now it is time to step up again and put our superhero outfits on and show our students we care, and we will all get through this together! So, dust of the superhero outfit and make your students smile again!
Our school district is switching to a completely online education format until further notice. We have all been asked to create ways to educate our students from afar, whether that is online textbooks, email, zoom meetings, educational portals, or any way possible. And we will do it. We will be creative as possible in our thinking and planning to make the best of a situation that is completely out of our control and I ask you to do the same if you must.
Coronavirus Resources to Help Students
Here are some things that my high school Physical Education Department is going to do or already doing to help our students. And let me also encourage you in this time of uncertainty, PLEASE share your ideas in the comments or go to PE Universe and share. We ALL need to come together as a PE community to help each and the students we teach:
1. Connect with Students Daily
First thing we did was have each teacher either create a short video clip or write a note to our students letting them know that we miss them and that we hope we can see them all soon. I shared with them my hope that they are practicing “social distancing” and staying healthy!
2. Create a Plan
Second, we posted a message in our educational portal instructing our student on what we hope they accomplish while we are not in school. We are not permitted to grade any material or work we collect at this time and our students know this, which can be tricky. So, my team decided to try and make our ideas as fun and engaging as possible, while also including their entire family. We want to get as many people as possible moving in their houses! We have asked our students to record their daily exercise in an Excel document that will allow us to see what they have done while out of school. We also created a forum for them to share ideas with us and to tell us what they like or dislike about what we are asking them to do.
3. Create Activity Plans/Workouts
The third and final thing we did as a department is to create plans/workouts for our students to do. Our class has always been about choice and offering our students as many options as we can each day to get them moving. We have always felt that if they can choose the activity, they are way more likely to complete the activity. So, we asked our students to take their family for a walk, whether that is around town, out on a country road, or a mountain hike through the woods looking for deer antler sheds. We figure this is the easiest way for our students to move, and one that is most likely to get everyone in the family active. Again, we reminded them about “social distancing” and that these walks are to move, not stop and talk with their friends and neighbors. On a side note, there are some people that started hiding teddy bears in their windows, on their porch, or somewhere on their property for people to “hunt.” Maybe you could start something like this in your town! We also encourage family bike rides, or if the weather permits, we have several small ponds and lakes that kids could get out and kayak. After those ideas come the workouts we created. We have card workouts, ABC workouts, Max Rep workouts, etc. that we created and typed up for our students to easily do from home with NO EQUIPMENT. We even recorded video of us, individually as teachers, completing the workouts so that our kids and their families can see the moves being done correctly. Our plan is to make as many of these videos as we can to share. Again, with a lot of variety our hope is that one or two of these workouts are a hit in each house! And hey, who doesn’t love watching their teachers sweat a little too?
4. Get Creative with Sharing Your Lessons
Lastly, and this is something I have been doing since March 20th, I created a Facebook page called PE with Gemberling to workout LIVE with my two kids, my wife, their friends, and my students! I act like a goofball and make the workout friendly for all ages. It has been amazing because I don’t get to teach my own kids because I teach in a neighboring district, so now I do get to teach them! I will be honest I am not sure if they like coming to class with me some days because the workouts are tough!
This is uncharted territory for all of us, so anything we can do to help, we must do it! I know that in most cases, our classes are not always looked at as essential, but now more than ever I think people need to realize we are essential and have always been essential! We are the stress relief so many people need right, now and I for one shall be wearing my superhero costume all day and night in an effort to do my part!
I hope that you are stay safe and healthy and wish you nothing but the best as we all move forward to help our students, their families, and the entire community!