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We are Wellington [Online] | Keeping fit with PE home learning

15 May 2020
During the past few months, many of us have been in various situations of lockdown. While this has presented a number of challenges in terms of keeping up a regimen of exercise as well as curtailing many forms of physical education, the PE department has managed to find ways to keep pupils engaged, active and learning. Mr Tuitt, Mr Hambling and Ms Bancroft share their experiences of what it’s like to teach physical education when your pupils are participating remotely. What kind of challenges have you encountered with teaching PE in a remote e-learning setup during the past few months? Mr Tuitt: Right from the start of this situation, we understood that there were going to be a lot of inherent difficulties in providing our lessons online. Naturally, we had the same problems as every other department in terms of setting up effective communications channels while coping with teachers and pupils being spread over many different time zones. Alongside those issues, we knew that our pupils were in extremely varied accommodation situations. Not everyone was in their family home, not everyone had or has a garden or outdoor space to access, so a lot of pupils were just having to make do with a little space in a bedroom or shared space. Ms Bancroft: After we got set up and the main issues were ironed out, my main problem was (and continues to be) issues around connectivity, which really can kill the flow of the session if there are interruptions. What makes it doubly frustrating is that there isn’t much you can do other than retry the connection and hope for a better result! How are the sessions going now compared to those early days? Mr Hambling: It’s a big relief to be now into what I’d call ‘proper’ classes, where we can start with a discussion, go through the learning objectives and strategies together, complete both academic tasks as well as the physical exercises. It’s not the same as being back on campus, but it’s still a viable learning environment where pupils can engage with the subject effectively. Ms Bancroft: I think we’ve all had time to hone our sessions so that they run very smoothly and we can handle any technological issues easily enough. Our sessions are quite regimented with useful countdowns and other visual aids. The minute-on, minute-off circuit training/interval training approach has worked very well because it’s a formula that everyone can quickly get behind and works well in the often constrained conditions. What has the pupils’ response been to the e-learning environment you’ve created? Mr Tuitt: It’s been variable, especially in the early weeks when everyone was getting used to the new setup. I think it was inevitable that some pupils would struggle initially to adapt to a remote PE learning environment where you have to be more self-reliant. However, as the weeks have gone on, we’ve all seen a marked improvement in attitude, effort and attainment. There’s always further improvements we can do, but I’m very proud of what the pupils have accomplished under difficult circumstances. Mr Hambling: Pupils are generally keen to make the most of it, as we would expect them to. I’ve taken to asking a simple question or task at the end of each session and this just helps them carry on thinking about what they’ve learned and consider its impact which often prompts further discussions between pupils online. What sort of things are pupils doing in their own time to supplement their PE sessions? Ms Bancroft: Plenty of pupils are augmenting what they’re doing with us in classes with extra sessions in their own time. Some are following guidance from YouTube fitness channels and others are now able to go to football training sessions and outdoor activities of that nature. Mr Tuitt: It’s still clearly a ‘line of best fit’ for pupils who do what they can, when they can, depending on the options available to them at the moment as the situation changes. However, it’s definitely more cohesive and easier to coordinate things as the majority of teachers and pupils are back in Shanghai. What lessons do you think you have learned during this period of e-learning? Are there elements of your teaching style that may change as a result? Mr Hambling: The past few months have definitely been a useful time for self-reflection. We’ve all been teaching and learning through an unfamiliar medium and that’s always a challenge initially. Doing fast-paced, highly targeted sessions online really helps you focus on what you’re trying to achieve in a short space of time. Mr Tuitt: This has been a time of improvisation and adaptation – two skills our pupils will need in later life beyond their school days. It’s shown us that we all need to be better at not taking resources for granted and learning how to make the best use of what we have to hand. Of course, access to wonderful resources opens up new opportunities to learn and improve, but we also have to ensure that we can use our minds and bodies effectively regardless. As a final thought, all of us across the department would like to offer the Wellington parents our sincere and heartfelt thanks for all their patience and support during this challenging time. We have all been learning and coping together, and throughout this period they continue to be a fantastic source of support and encouragement for their children. We genuinely could not have offered a worthwhile remote educational experience without them.   More relevant articles : We are Wellington [Online] | Modern wizardry We are Wellington [Online] | E-learning in the art room We are Wellington [Online] | Learning wherever we are We are Wellington [Online] | The transition to e-learning Although our campus is currently closed to external visitors – you can still take a look round via our new virtual tours. Our admissions team is readily available to answer any questions you might have and to guide you through the application process.  Please do get in touch. admissions.shanghai@wellingtoncollege.cn