The Big Challenge: Teaching Physical Education Remotely

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 10, 2020 | Go to article overview

The Big Challenge: Teaching Physical Education Remotely


If this were gymnastics, we might give it a degree of difficulty rating around 9.5.

Think double flips while sticking the landing, high bar to low bar with perfect release or, if you want to go ice skating instead, think triple axel perfectly executed.

No easy task for sure.

Here is the dilemma: How do you teach sports, exercise and fitness to students on the other side of a computer screen? A complete contrast in both mode and operation, but that is exactly the challenge facing our Glenview and Northbrook school P.E. teachers as they begin this new school year.

One thing seems clear, though: They are far better prepared this year than this past spring when schools closed suddenly and they had to adjust on the fly.

As Glenbrook North's Director of Physical Education, Bob Pieper is on the forefront of this new challenge. He freely admits they weren't completely in sync last year.

"Honestly, we were just hanging on and trying to keep the kids somewhat engaged," he said. "Our philosophy at that time was 'do no harm.' We basically just wanted to make sure we took attendance and everybody got more of a baseline grade."

What a difference a few months make.

Now P.E. teachers are armed and prepared with new curriculum, new ideas, and a clear strategy for attacking P.E. class over the internet. A good part of the summer was spent preparing for the possibility of 100% remote learning. Pieper and fellow director of physical education at Glenbrook South, Steve Staniek, met numerous times and had curriculum teams of P.E. teachers from both schools giving their input as well.

Together, they put a plan in place. And, without question, when the school year started, "Team P.E." was locked in and ready to roll.

"We are going to get them moving," Pieper fires out, sounding a little pumped up like he did in his football coaching days. "We are telling them this is technology break time. Time to get away from the screen and be prepared to be active. We might have a few minutes for attendance and a few explanations, but the rest of the time we want them active."

Pieper continues: "We are still going to teach sports skills through video and through demonstrations and have them practice those skills. Classes like dance, yoga, golf, and others will go on without interruption. We are going to give them exercise ideas and have them send in videos. They will be on camera for the entire 90 minutes of their block scheduled class."

"It will be challenging," Pieper adds, "because each student at home will have different tools to work with. …

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