With distance learning well advanced at Coronado High School, some may wonder how students stay active despite excessive screen time. The answer: physical education (PE). While some play sports and exercise on their own, not everyone maintains their physical shape without the help of teachers and school boards. At all grade levels, physical education classes are in session. How? ‘Or’ What? CHS teachers and students give us the scoop.
Mr. Jeffrey Beckley is the ninth grade Fitness for Life instructor. A typical day for him varies depending on the learning objective. Mondays are characterized by shorter class periods, where its students focus on content such as goal setting and information about fitness and the human body. On other days of the week, students can be seen participating in Tabata or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) style workouts via Zoom. These classroom exercises last 20 to 30 minutes and may include movements aimed at improving flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, and muscle endurance. Students also have asynchronous exercise time, where they participate in a physical activity of their choice and keep a journal of all their activities.
“As a physical education teacher, I think it’s important for me to encourage and support students to set fitness goals and work towards them. Goal setting is one of the most important tools for teaching students as they work to stay active and healthy in the distance learning environment, ”explained Beckley.
He wants to share his love of fitness and exercise with his students while encouraging them to lead active lives and pursue their dreams. Mr. Beckley works hard to keep the kids motivated, but even he sometimes has problems.
“The biggest challenge I have faced in teaching physical education through the distance learning format is not being on campus with my students. My students have been amazing and are a resilient group. They’ve adopted our routines and are doing their best every day, but physical education is best experienced on campus with classmates, ”said Beckley. “As the semester progresses, I will continue to find ways to bridge the gap between traditional PE and distance PE.”
Mr. Beckley wants his students to apply the principles of fitness and life learned in the classroom to real life situations. If he wanted students to learn a lesson from his class, it would be to realize the positive impacts exercise has on life.
CHS Athletic Director Robin Nixon teaches one period of Fitness for Life, two periods of strength training and hybrid physical education. A CHS graduate, she was also an athlete as a teenager and personally understands the stresses that student-athletes experience during this time.
Similar to Fitness for Life, the CHS Strength Class meets virtually three times a week, with Monday being the shortest. At the start of each week, students review a plan for the coming days and are given homework assignments to complete throughout the week. On the other two days, a YouTube workout is presented where the students follow the exercises. Hybrid EP is slightly different from other classes since in the pre-pandemic times, students only met once every three weeks in person while doing their homework independently on a weekly basis. Now the only difference is that the attendees meet on Zoom for the in-person gathering.
“I was very impressed with our students as most of them seem to train on their own. We have the students fill out a workout diary, and then we do a variety of workouts together, but overall I’m pretty happy with the fitness level of our students. The accountability has been better than I expected, ”said Ms. Nixon.
Its only problems with distance education are connectivity issues and technology issues, which are often not the fault of the students. Physical education requires active participation and student movement, and it is difficult for teachers to assign participation scores when the cameras are not on.
Ms. Debra Buchanan teaches dance / health and yoga to first year students. It also provides students with synchronous and asynchronous time. It presents a Zoom activity for approximately 30 minutes in each class period, and the rest of the time is spent with the students to complete the PowerSchool assignments. One of the areas Ms Buchanan emphasizes is mental health. Participants lead mindfulness practices that target stress reduction in the hope that it helps students mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Ms Buchanan explained that the two biggest challenges with distance learning were the absence of her students in the studio and the difficulty of teaching through Zoom. Dancing and yoga require specific movements, which can be difficult to view on camera. However, Ms. Buchanan is proud of her students and can’t wait to see them all in person.
Ms. Buchanan said, “These students are incredibly resilient and wonderful. They give me so much energy and really make teaching a joy. They have proven that even when faced with obstacles, they can be successful. Hope to see a studio full of enthusiastic learners and active bodies! In the meantime, we will all continue our lifelong pursuit of health and fitness, cheering each other on and looking forward to being back on campus.
Asked about her plans for the future, Ms Buchanan said she would appreciate the day when she didn’t have to constantly ask, “Can you please wake up?” “
Kaelyn Krueger, currently a freshman at the CHS, has direct experience in physical education through distance learning. She explained that technological issues are her main concern as they interfere with learning and activity while causing stress and anxiety.
“If there are problems or if you can’t hear people, it’s quite difficult to actively participate in class. It happened to me, and it’s no fun. You are trying to figure out how to fix it and other people in the class are trying to help you, so it gets complicated, ”she described.
Kaelyn hopes to be safely back at school in person soon. She believes learning is exponentially better in real life, but will continue to fight through these crazy times and persevere.
Overall, students do their best to stay physically healthy at home with the help and guidance of physical education teachers through Zoom classes. While there are inevitable obstacles along the way, many have overcome them and maintained a level of fitness during the pandemic.