PE Staff Strives to Motivate Through Virtual Learning

by Jackson Hongtong ‘21

As the new school year with virtual learning continues, teachers have to engage their students in ways they never have before, making people wonder how some subjects will be taught considering they can not be in the physical classroom. One of those subjects that raises these curiosities is physical education (PE), and how those teachers can teach sports like volleyball or basketball over a Zoom call. 

“There is no curriculum. It is up to us to do the best that we can with these types of classes,” said Marc Thomas, the resource teacher for the PE department. “We try to emphasize that we want students to still try and find ways to be healthy, be active, and exercise.”

PE teachers were given the task by the county to create their own style of teaching that will work for their respective classes. Each PE class, like every other class this school year, is twice a week. During these classes, students engage in discussions about the sports, watch videos about health and exercise, and learn other types of workouts to do during the pandemic. Most teachers try to end Zooms earlier in the scheduled class period to permit students to go out and exercise instead of being glued to a screen. 

The primary challenge of the teachers, however, is the use of technology for class, as nothing in real-life physical education for them has had anything to do with computers.. “Our main concern, and probably many other teachers, is the fact that we are not technologically savvy. For us, it really wasn’t what we are doing but rather how we do it and get kids to interact,” said Thomas.

The PE teachers have two main sources to help them teach kids this semester: a Google document filled with activities and The Warrior Workouts. The document sheet, created by the PE department, contains hundreds of videos and other sport-specific workouts for students to do on their own time and at home. The Warrior Workouts have been created by the PE staff that shows the teachers personally working out together. The video includes a variety of different workouts and exercises without equipment so all students can do them at home.

“It’s tough to try and get everyone into the weight room at the same time, but it’s incredible what the teachers are doing. They aren’t required to do any of it so it’s awesome that they can get in [the weight room] and help students as much they can [through their own example],” said Thomas.

The first Warrior Workout featured three PE teachers: Sean Davis, Ashley Barber-Strunk, and new teacher Sydney Parra. “It is so important, especially being in front of the screen all day, to get up and get moving. Hopefully we motivate the students by showing that if we can do it, they can too!” said Barber-Strunk. 

The PE teachers hope to have Warrior Workouts once a week to inspire students to be as active as possible. 

Teachers can not force students to practice and exercise through virtual learning, so they are relying a lot on positive encouragement. They are just as new as students are to this online system so working together with them will only make things go smoother. The PE staff plans to continue to come up with new and innovative ways to get students up and moving around all semester long.