This week marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with it a drastic change to our personal and professional lives causing us to pivot into challenging new ways of living. For teachers, this change was monumental. Teaching online was something that seemed futuristic and almost impossible. We had to figure out how to engage learners through spotty wi-fi connections, communicate with parents who were at the same time working from home and teaching students who had never typed on a keyboard before through various platforms that were also brand new to us. Things eventually got better, and we were back in schools that looked unrecognizable to us. Lower student numbers, masks and shields, teaching Physical Education to students separated into two by two metre squares… and lots of sanitizing!
Recess also looked very different, where pylons separated cohorts from interacting with each other, and equipment being cleaned between every indoor and outdoor transition. Teachers had to take on a new set of responsibilities that brought “keeping students safe” to a whole new level. We pivoted again to another shutdown, and another re-opening and have adapted to this new style of teaching as our “new normal.”
Back in December, we received a letter from our school board that we would need to pivot once again...
And folks, this is our NOW. May we introduce you to (insert drumroll), Hybrid Learning - Not fully in-class, not fully virtual, but a mix of...both?
If you teach in a contained or partially-contained Special Education class or are a secondary teacher, you might be doing this already. We hope you’ve figured out all of the technical glitches by now and are fluent in converting worksheets to fillable PDF’s. We hope that all of your students are accessing curriculum and are given opportunities to showcase their learning and collaborate with their peers daily, however here’s the catch to the hybrid world. Not every assignment translates to the online world and sometimes we harbour the guilt of leaving our virtual students with the short end of the stick.
We’ve been doing this for three months now and have spoken with many of educators on this topic. Some are drowning in the hybrid space and some have accepted it as a new challenge and the best of both worlds in order to keep their learners safe during the pandemic. Either way, both groups agree that hybrid learning isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and have committed to doing their best to deliver quality programming no matter what platform they are delivering on.
So what, now what?
We’ve put together our top 5 tips to make hybrid learning accessible, active and engaging for your learners.
Tip #1, Limit Equipment:
Does your Physical Education program revolve around the bag of tricks in your equipment room? You're going to need to be creative and mindful of what equipment your virtual students have or don't have access to, and plan inclusively for all your learners. Start with a survey of what equipment your learners at home have access to. Think outside of the box! You don't need a ball to practice sending and receiving, ask learners to find objects in their homes which can be used and might even challenge them differently. Stuffed animals, socks, tissues or scarves work great as adaptable equipment. What's your favourite?
Tip #2, Meet as a Whole:
Breakout rooms for virtual learners are a great way to connect them when they aren't in the physical space, but consider the value of meeting with all students together, both face to face and virtually. If you're not doing this already, start small with gathering at the beginning of the class to set expectations and then meet up again at the end to consolidate learning and collaboration.
Tip #3, Accommodate & Modify (our two favourite words here at Play Beyond The Label):
Think of your virtual learners as integrating into your face-to-face classroom, and vice versa. In order for learners with different needs in different learning environments to be successful, they will need to be accommodated for. Activities will need to be adapted to support both settings. A game of tag will not translate for virtual learners, what will they do instead? If the alternate activity is supportive of the learning goal, great! If what you're asking them to do does not support the learning goal, it's probably not an option for hybrid learning. Afterall, if one learner's physical mobility prevented them from participating in an activity in your class, you wouldn't play it.
Tip #4, Assess Creatively:
We as educators assess for a number of reasons. We want to see how much our learners know, how much they are improving in their skills over time and we also use assessment to reflect on our own teaching practice and methods. In the hybrid world, assessment needs to be flexible and can be done differently for a learner in the face-to-face environment versus a learner online. There will be learners whose progress you will see in person in front of you which tick all the boxes in your assessment binder. Then there will be the learners who are less visible online and who may not invite you into their world to see them on camera. How do we assess these learners?
Tip #5, Relax! You got this:
We’ve heard the general public refer to teachers as “superheroes”, and sometimes there are days where we aren’t feeling like one, however we do know that we are doing a pretty good job so far with what we know and have. Here’s our biggest takeaway from the hybrid era… give yourself permission to catch your breath and give yourself a break! This new way of teaching and learning is a new world to everyone. Even superheroes make mistakes, but they learn from them, evolve and come back stronger with a new and better approach.
To support your Physical Education program in the hybrid platform, we’ve created a Hybrid Physical Education Lesson Template that will guide you through the planning process and delivery of a 3-part lesson plan. In this resource, we are demonstrating a sample lesson for primary and junior learners. We are offering this resource FREE for the first 100 downloads!
For best user experience with the Physical Activity Accessible Choice Board:
- Download the PPT and click 'File' - 'Save As' - 'Google Slides'.
- Be patient, this can take a minute.
- Read the comments in the Notes section to adapt it to your learners and abilities.
- When using, ensure that the slides are in 'Present Mode'.