Social Distance & Physical Education
Updated: May 22
Firstly, 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. 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.
Many of us have been searching for answers as to what is right in the Physical Education space. I wrote a blog a month or so ago about not asking what is right but asking what matters. Our school system is looking at having our whole school back in two weeks, but it will not be school how we would normally operate. In P.E. it is believed we will have to adhere to social/physical distancing, trying our best to keep the 1.5 metre (6 foot) rule and try to limit equipment (or use none at all if we can). Sounds like fun, right?
I see a lot of teachers right now looking to face the same thing. Students coming back and not being able to play the traditional games you all know and love because of the distancing scenario. I’ve experienced this already and it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve figured out a few things that have helped me… and it’s because I’ve asked myself “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.
Instead, mix it up. Give students variety. Why not create a unit that incorporates scope for all elements of PE, from Fundamental Motor Skills, to Game Sense to Yoga and more? It’s easier to worry (or not worry) about social distancing if you can think of one-off lessons for Invasion Games where you can teach about attacking and defending without going through a whole game process. Imagine creating a 10-week plan where, for the time being, students had something different every week. We need to remember our students maybe battling as well and it will be good to take their minds off what may be happening elsewhere.
Next… Don’t sweat the small stuff. I’ve learned that it is near impossible in P.E. to keep students 1.5 metres 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.
If there was ever a time to try something new, I think now is it. I may not be right, but I don’t think any of us are wrong. We all just have different ways of doing things. Everything is happening so quickly. 4 weeks ago I was making YOUTUBE videos for at home learning and now I’m looking at re-writing curriculum to suit social distancing when students are at school.
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 2020 kicking off, 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.
Good luck on your Physical Education journey!