Teaching Fitness From a Distance
by Lex Rule
For Physical Education classes, many of which usually require face-to-face instruction and physical contact, the transition to online learning may pose even more of a challenge—but it is one PCC instructors are willing to take.
Delia McQueen is the Co-Department Chair of the PE department and has taught multiple classes at PCC including boxing, volleyball, and Zumba. McQueen, who has never taught online classes, will be learning to use D2L and Zoom to do so.
“We are all really willing and capable of making this work. All of the instructors are up for the challenge to help our students and we have tried to get more online PE classes approved [before]. If we are successful, the administration may be more open to online PE.”
Ballroom Dance instructor, Robert Turlington, views the situation as an opportunity to try new things. He hopes that his virtual dance classes over Zoom or Google Hangouts will also act as an additional resource for students to reference in and out of the class. “I’m also looking forward to a more in-depth exploration of the history of ballroom and Latin dancing that we often don’t make time for in our in-person classes,” Turlington said.
Jeffrey Perrault has had two of his PE classes canceled. Disc golf was a late-start class scheduled for this spring term, and Perrault’s TRX Suspension training class, which uses suspension straps anchored into the ceiling, cannot be done remotely because it’s not possible to ensure students can purchase the straps or install them safely at home.
“With the remodel, we’re not going to be able to teach that class for probably a couple of years,” Perrault said.
Perrault’s basketball classes will still be offered remotely until the campus reopens. “This is forcing people to work together even though they’re not next to each other. It’s making teachers better because it’s forcing us to not only be able to teach in person, but we have to be able to send our message online and use our technological knowledge—that’s a great benefit,” Perrault said.
However, this optimism also comes with some uncertainty. “There are some unknowns: can we cover all the course outcomes perfectly? How much flexibility do we have in those?” Perrault said.
For Turlington, maintaining a sense of connectedness through his dance class is on the line. “I worry about a lot of my students. I know many of them rely on the class as a safe space to explore, play, and hang out with their friends. Enrollment is [already] down… I’m worried we may have just finished the last ballroom dance class at PCC Sylvania.” Turlington said that if possible, he’d like the class to meet at an in-person dance event at the end of the term to apply what they’ve learned online.
Perrault worries that students may still be hesitant to show-up once the campus reopens, but thinks the yearn for human interaction will encourage attendance. “People are going to miss being with each other. Part of the reason people even come to class is because of the relationship between teacher and student and the relationship between student and student—that’s important to have,” Perrault said.
All of these instructors stress the importance of working together to overcome this difficult time. “Although challenging, this is essential to keep staff and students safe. We all have to make sacrifices but if we embrace the challenge and keep a positive attitude, we will emerge from this better people,” McQueen said.
“This is serious and we need to be prudent,” Turlington said. “You can’t maintain social distance while partner dancing. That doesn’t mean we have to stop living, however. We should seek out virtual social connections and activities where we can find them, reach out to our support network as needed, and remember that we’re all in this together.”