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Stories from the Field – Inservice PE Teachers Share their Pandemic Situation with Preservice Teachers
By Bob Knipe

In this post,  I will share how in my role as a Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) Instructor  I am working with my preservice teachers to better understand the realities facing teachers who are currently teaching during the pandemic by sharing our activities from one virtual class meeting.

Why?   – The students I am working with are in the final semester of their professional development sequence. During this semester preservice teachers take a 3-hour evening course, alongside their Student-Teaching field experience.  Like many teacher educators, I am balancing the learning opportunities I provide my preservice teachers between two goals. One of these goals is to help them understand the current educational system’s response and districts’ varied responses to the pandemic and what the role of a student-teacher is within this context. The second goal is a bit more hopeful, which is to work alongside them as they develop the knowledge and skills to teach in a non-pandemic world. As life happens, there has been no additional time added to teacher preparation to address this dual role. We can respond by putting our heads in the sand and skip over the present and instead focus on the past or some imagined future where COVID 19 doesn’t impact our daily lives. On the other hand, we can engage our preservice teachers in inquiry that helps them to better understand our society, the educational system, and their own teaching philosophy. As they learn to evaluate and think critically as they analyze how districts and individual teachers have responded, these preservice teachers will help shape the future regardless of how COVID 19 continues to spread or slows. 

How?  – Before the start of class two tasks were undertaken
1. The first was that Preservice Teachers were asked to investigate the following questions on their own, before coming together as a class. Students recorded their answers as a response to a discussion post within the learning management system.
-Using the internet,  identify and explore districts’ approaches to addressing schooling during the pandemic? If students have physically returned to school, are there examples of how it is going?   Be sure to cite at least 4 examples using district websites and news articles
-Using Social Media search the following hashtag #HPEatHome for examples of the following
10 Example of activities PE Teachers are using in their online instruction
5 Examples of tips from PE Teachers on how to make teaching virtually work, including but not limited to technology (apps, software, and devices), communication with students and families, and ways of advocating for yourself, your student, and your program during this time
 Resources repositories that have compiled information on teaching Physical Education virtually, in a pandemic, hybrid, etc. These may be in the form of websites or folders where an individual or organization have compiled resources that are available publicly for free

2. The second was that I asked my network of inservice physical education teachers to submit short, 2-3  minute, video recordings, addressed to preservice teachers, that answered the following questions

-Intro = Who you are? How long you have been teaching and where do you teach?
-Share your pandemic situation = Has your teaching situation changed now compared to pre COVID 19? Are you teaching virtually, hybrid or In-person? Asynchronous, Synchronous, or a combination? How many students do you serve and what are your class sizes? How frequently do you meet with your students? 
-How has the pandemic impacted how and what you teach?
-Sign off with a word of encouragement

We then came together using the university provided video conferencing platform and students had an opportunity to take turns sharing out their findings.  After each person shared, I utilized guided questions to encourage the students to evaluate and critique what was presented.   At the end of each subset of questions, students were asked to summarize what was learned.   One of the major conversations was the difference between PE and PA. The preservice teaches had a hard time identifying the “E” in PE in many of the activities that had been compiled even when educational elements were presented.

Finally, as a class, we screened the videos that had been submitted earlier in the week. I found that it was important to watch the videos myself prior to viewing them as a class so that I could provide context for the preservice teachers about each of the teachers who would be sharing with them. I have now updated each of the video file names to tell the viewer about the following characteristics, which state, type of teaching (ie in person, hybrid and virtual),  and full name. Furthermore, before viewing any of the videos I acknowledged that the submissions that had been received at that point did not contain a racially diverse sample of teachers and we addressed why this is problematic. After each video, we discussed the situation the teacher was in and how they were responding. Clarification will also be needed. For example, one teacher shares that they are teaching in person, but the class size is reduced to 66 students at the elementary level. In this particular teachers’ district it was common for them to have 100 students but do to the COVID 19 response of their district some families opted for virtual.

It is my hope in sharing how I have worked with those in the field to help preservice teachers to understand the realities of teaching PE during a pandemic will help you  
-Preservice Teachers to also understand   the variety of responses to COVID 19 by teachers and districts
-Inservice Teachers to see how your colleagues are working through these challenging times
-Teacher Educators to potentially utilize my approach to helping students see the field with your preservice teachers.

To help you I have asked the inservice teachers who have contributed if it would be ok to share their video with the broader physical education community. They have agreed. So here are the videos for your utilization.
Currently, the videos that are on file are all the ones that have been submitted. It is my hope to see more diversity represented. If you are an inservice teacher and would like to add a video please comment below.

I cannot express my gratitude enough to the inservice teachers who contributed to this project. Please know the preservice teachers were very grateful for your service.

Bob Knipe
UT Austin PhD Student – Curriculum and Instruction PETE

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  1. Lisa Paulson

    So good. Thanks so much for sharing, and special thanks to the in-service teachers for sharing their videos. I have pre-service teachers, but we do not currently have any student teaching this fall – super helpful. Excited to implement.

  2. Lisa Paulson

    Also – I highly encourage my PETE Ss to be on Twitter, but haven’t required it yet. Do you require it? I feel like it’s a must – a professional PE profile.

    1. Robert Knipe, III Post author

      Lisa, This lesson does require students to access Twitter or other social media networks to search for resources shared on pandemic/virtual teaching. However, for Twitter at least you do not need an account to search the site. They can access Twitter to find examples for this lesson by clicking the following link without having to sign up My stance on requiring an account is I highly recommend it. I explicitly teach and showcase the benefits, as well as provide extra credit opportunities, like participating in a SHAPE America Twitter Chats, that do require them to have an account. I also let them know that as I find resources on social media it is easiest for me to share these resources with them if they are on the platform. These tend to be ideas that I wouldn’t share in a normal university course, but maybe something quick that follows up on something we covered.

  3. Stephanie Morris

    Bob, what an AWESOME piece – thank you so much for sharing this. I love the innovative approach you are taking and that you are so committed to helping your pre-service students be as prepared as humanly possible in this unprecedented time. Well done.

  4. Shonna Snyder

    Hey Bob,
    great piece! I have shared with my colleagues. A big “thank you” to all of the teachers who created videos. I think we need to do a health education sequel.