The year is 2021 and hindsight is officially 2020. 2020 will be remembered as a year like no other (or chosen to be forgotten by some!). No matter what your situation was, I think we've all learned something. As we reflect on the year’s work and plan for the next, it is important to also reflect on yourself – how did you personally respond to uncertainty and get through it? Who would have thought a year ago we’d be where we are now? Who would have thought 6 months ago we’d be where we are at now? 2021 can only get better, right?
Whether you’re officially starting your new school year or or even part way through it and still battling COVID, it can be challenging for both student and teacher. You could also be in Groundhog Day of rotating between virtual learning vs hybrid learning vs in-class learning vs some mash up of all three. Maybe you're starting your year fresh without restrictions - in which case, congrats!
Regardless of where you are up to, I hope you are doing well. Every country, everywhere in the world is at different stages with this pandemic and for some of us, our world has been flipped on its head, ten times over. As someone who has taught health as well and passionate about the mental aspect as much as the physical aspect, do yourself a favour and don’t ignore your underlying feelings at this time… and feel comfort in knowing there are teachers and people everywhere feeling the same way. We are only human after all.
As someone who has come out the other side of this, my advice would be to try and find the optimism in it all. For me, that was being different. 99.9% of the time we are bound by curriculum. Don’t start there when you go back. Try and be light and fun. That’s what our kids need. You know your students better than anyone, but it never hurts to try Ice Breaker Games or Fun Team Building Activities – even if you’ve been with your students for a while.
If your students can’t be within six feet of each other, try incorporating a socially distant PE unit. I did this with success. It takes some creativity, but there is a way to blend games kids know and love and still make them socially distant.
I’ve heard of PE teachers that cannot be in their gym and are confined to a classroom where students are not allowed to be physically active or over-exert themselves. If that is the case, maybe now is the time to teach students about mental health. Now may be the time they need it most. Incorporating mindfulness into your PE program may be a good thing – and what better time to try it?
If you are reading this, I think we all have one thing in common, no matter where you are in the world, we have all faced the same thing at some point. It is a great time to ask yourself “What matters?”
So, what matters? To me, I think what matters is that we focus on the FUN factor. I know, we teach P.E. and it should be fun all the time, but what I mean by this is (if you can) don’t stress about curriculum for the time being. If you don’t have to, don’t worry about getting through that Soccer or Basketball unit you had planned or pushing through 5 weeks of Football wondering how to accommodate social distance routines.
Also, don’t sweat the small stuff. I’ve learned that it is near impossible in P.E. to keep students 6 feet away from one another. When kids come to school, this rule is nearly impossible to implement. Do your best, but don’t worry if a student accidentally makes contact. I am sure your school is like ours and has disinfectant tubs and is putting all equipment in there after use to be as clean as possible. You are doing everything you can. Keep telling yourself that. We’re in a world where everything is new, and we aren’t going to get it right all the time.
It is a changing world, and that is OK. Caring is half the battle and making it fun and trying to maximise engagement is the other half. This isn’t how any of us envisioned the world going, but we won’t be forgetting it any time soon. Why not try something different? Why not be unique right now? If anything, else, it may give our students something to talk about… and that’s not such a bad thing. It’s a time of reflection and optimism. Hindsight is 2020. 😊