Hello, my name is Taylor and I am a K-5 Physical Education teacher to 800+ students in the Northwest suburbs. My school offered two options for our families in the 2020-2021 school year, fully remote or hybrid. Students are only in the building for two and a half hours at a time, schedules are drastically changed. Unfortunately for PE (and other enrichment classes like art and music), we were told we would be pushing out lessons remotely. This meant I would see NO students in person, and have no “live” interactions (Zoom) for the foreseeable future. To say my teaching world was turned upside-down is an understatement.

I went into PE because I love everything about it. PE entails more than rolling out a cart of balls and letting the kids have a free period, my students learn SO much more! A few big concepts I teach students are spatial awareness, locomotor skills, throwing and catching, team sports, but most importantly I get the joy of teaching and molding students on how to be good people. We don’t just teach physical skills, we teach social skills. These social skills help students learn, interact with peers, how to problem solve, good sportsmanship, what teamwork is, setting of personal goals, and overall emotion management. Since I am remote and the students aren’t coming into the gym I’m not teaching those physical skills OR that huge social skills piece they need now more than ever.

The pandemic has forced me incredibly out of my comfort zone, but it has also made me more creative. I have focused on making easy to follow lessons for students in all grade levels. I did this in hopes students can be independent and rely less on the working guardians who have taken on helping their children at home. A lesson from me this year would be a google slide presentation (or PowerPoint) with some directions and a video of me. It could be a hard workout that leaves them sweating or me in a funny costume teaching a line dance that I hope makes them laugh and smile. I have put my PE pride aside and made the students mental health the forefront.

Whenever my students return there will be a huge gap to teach, but for me the most important thing is that students are moving or laughing at ridiculous videos of me awkwardly dancing alone. This is not the year I dreamed of but I am making the best of what I have been allowed. The day my students finally return to my gym will be joyous. The speakers will be at full volume and I will be dancing like a buffoon. Never again will I take for granted my work and students I am so proud of.