Planning For The New Year – Post COVID PE

Planning For The New Year – Post COVID PE

Public education has seen its fair share of changes over the years. But none have so dramatically changed the landscape of schools overnight like COVID-19.

And while teachers were left exhausted from a rollercoaster school year, many also had lingering questions about what would come next. Will school as we know it ever be the same? Will we go back to “normal”? What will the first year of post-COVID school look like? 

For Darin Nolan, PE teacher at Bellingham High School in Washington, planning for a new year offered a unique opportunity for change.

Open To Change 

Darin Nolan has always welcomed change that could produce better results. No matter how big or small, Darin is open to adapting for the better,

“As teachers, we are always changing, adapting, and thinking of ways to improve what we teach and how we teach it. I am always making changes and adjustments so that I can continue improving our PE program at Bellingham.” 

Darin is excited for the new school year to come and some of the small but impactful changes he can make for his students. From a new approach to incorporating technology to balancing out his curriculum, Darin is ready for a new semester ahead.

Tech – Before & During COVID 

One of the biggest things just about every teacher and student had to embrace in the last year was the use of technology during class. For Darin, COVID was not going to be the first attempt at adding technology to his PE classes, 

“Right before COVID hit, we had worked to let students access workouts on their phone via PLT4M. But, I will be the first to admit we struggled a little with students staying on task because technology created a bit of a distraction.” 

Although phones and tablets had the potential to be a distraction, Darin was hopeful that the addition of technology would provide an enhanced learning experience for students. It was just a matter of teaching students to use technology in class correctly. 

During remote learning, Darin wondered how he could make sure students in his classes stayed on task while at home. To do so, Darin would share his screen and display the daily lesson that was paired with instructional videos,

“It became a way we were all working together. We would watch the videos together, students would go do the movements assigned, and then they would come back and log the results on their devices.” 

As students returned to school via a hybrid model, Darin continued playing instructional videos, only this time on a monitor in the weight room, 

“It was a great transition, and the kids were awesome at staying on task with their phones. Because of that, they were able to take advantage of the app by entering in their data that would help individualize their workouts.”

While it started out as a potential for distraction, students now had an additional tool right at their fingertips. 

Tech – Planning For Next Semester 

Now, as Darin heads back into a school year, he wants to keep the momentum of students using technology the right way. To do so, Darin will continue the orientation style model of using the app so that students can review both basic fitness and technology usage together, 

“At the beginning of the year, we will all stick to doing the same introductory programs. It will be good for students to review the movements and techniques of basic exercise. And because we will go through this together, we will also set clear expectations on using technology in class.”

Past just making improvements to introducing technology and reviewing key concepts, Darin is also refocusing on what he covers throughout the entire semester with his students.

When students tap into any device (phone, tablet, computer) they can enter their results to keep their workout experience personalized and relevant to their own progress.
Looking to make a plan for your coming school year? 

Balancing Activity & Edu 

Like many PE teachers, Darin spent much of his class time before COVID focusing on activity and movement, 

“You only have so much time in class, and so you want to be as hands-on with activity and movement as possible.” 

But with asynchronous learning during COVID, and students not always together for class time, Darin added nutrition lessons for students to do autonomously. It was something he always wanted to do, but was not sure how to incorporate. While this initiative was originally a result of COVID, he plans to add this in for the semester ahead, 

“Going forward, supplementing each week with one of PLT4M’s nutrition lessons will be a key to teaching the overall wellness equation to students.”

With changes made to both the curriculum and lesson delivery, Bellingham High School is ready for the new year.

Change & Impact On Multiple Levels 

Through many of Darin’s small changes during COVID and into the new school year, he has helped fine-tune the approach to both curriculum and technology at Bellingham High School. 

And because Darin was one of the first in the district to trial and error using technology in PE, he has been able to help share best practices with other teachers. Now, with an introduction from Darin, the entire district has started to find ways to incorporate PLT4M’s technology and curriculum in PE. 

While it is still unclear exactly what the coming school year will bring, Bellingham High School has shown that technology can still prove to be a wonderful addition to PE in schools.

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