We are heartened and inspired to see the enthusiasm and innovation shown by many teachers who aim to provide their students with support through these challenging times – what a remarkable community! We have some thoughts (rather than advice) about how #HPEatHome can be made meaningful for students, so they might engage with movement in their homes and communities and return to school looking forward to PE.
- Reflection is vital for students to be made aware of and understand their experiences; however, many teachers are conflicted between taking time for reflection and taking time away from movement. You might be able to use this time to facilitate student reflection on PE. For example, you might ask what they enjoy or don’t enjoy about movement. What do they look forward to most or least? What was one memorable experience in PE from this year and what made it memorable? What they are most looking forward to doing in terms of their ‘usual’ movement once things return? This may offer some hope and something to look forward to. Students might also reflect on how movement can be helpful during potentially stressful situations such as they are currently facing. Taking the opportunity to ask students to connect with you in this way might provide you with some important (virtual) 1-1 time that can be challenging in a typical PE class. This may also come in handy for planning and instructional decisions when you return…
- Embrace goal-setting: For some students a realistic and worthy goal might simply to be active for some part of the day; for others it might be more specific depending on what they can access in their homes. Some apps can be used to facilitate goal-setting in relation to specific skills (e.g., Hudl) if students want to get better, no matter what their current level. Goal-setting can also help students create and/or navigate a daily schedule while they are out of school.
- Context is important but can be challenging: In newspapers we have seen lots of advice about taking hikes and getting into nature. This is wonderful if you have access to it and should be encouraged, but many students simply don’t have this kind of access and we imagine it might lead to frustration, resentment, and so on. This is why knowing the types of situations your students might be facing in terms of #HPEatHome is crucial. If students don’t have access to the outdoors, what can be done inside? Perhaps ask students to send you a clip (a dance, ultimate trick shot set up, favourite bike circuit/route), link or set of instructions for their favourite activity to do indoors. Depending on your mode of contact with students, these could be compiled and shared with the class for peers to try for themselves and comment on, fostering some type of positive interactions. It might also give them a bank of new activities to suggest upon returning to school.
- Encourage alternative ways to be active with others. This can be done with siblings and other family members in the home, or with friends through various forms of technology and social media (e.g., Tic Toc). They could set challenges for friends.
- Encourage students to try something new while no one’s watching. One of the inescapable challenges of PE is the public nature of students’ participation and performance. Students might find they enjoy or thrive in something they felt too self-conscious to embrace under the gaze of others. The apps mentioned may support this, and Youtube offers instruction for almost anything you can imagine. Who knows, you might find that someone has found their passion for Capoeira, Parkour, Darts, Mini Putt or Floor Curling while at home!
- This is an opportunity for students to make some personally relevant connections between how their actions can affect others, which is so important in many aspects of PE, school and life in general. If your curriculum has expectations or outcomes for personal safety (e.g., social distancing, telling someone when you’re not feeling well, thinking about others), tasks that engage students in understanding the current situation will be highly relevant to them. They might not be ‘peak’ or delightful experiences but they could see clearly why they are learning things in PE.
- As teachers of health and physical education, one of our main goals is to have students take ownership of their learning. In fact, most PE curricula have an explicitly stated aim of becoming ‘active for life’ (or similar). In these unique and challenging times, supporting the autonomy of our students has never been more important! Allowing time for reflection, facilitating goal setting, encouraging new pursuits and recognizing contextual differences are all strategies that are highly autonomy supportive. Providing ways for students to have and improve voice and choice in their daily activity decisions NOW has the potential to improve their PE experience when they get back to their school setting.