Luther Rauk, from the American International School of Muscat and Mo Hourani, from the American Community School Beirut have started regular online meetings for Physical Education teachers from around the world to connect, share, and collaborate on best practices in a physical education classroom in the midst of a pandemic. The sessions are titled lightheartedly, ‘Don’t Panic, Pandemic PE’
The pandemic has posed numerous challenges for both students and PE teachers, but one silver lining is a new opportunity for PE teachers to connect and collaborate online. Last March as schools closed their doors, teachers around the world were scrambling to figure out the best ways to reach their students and many felt as if they were novice teachers all over again. In those frantic and uncertain times, Don’t Panic, Pandemic PE was born.
Don’t Panic Pandemic PE is a grassroots endeavor created out of collegial support and common passions. Luther and Mo, one in Oman and the other in Lebanon, reached out to each other to inquire about how each was facing the obstacles of teaching physical education online or in a hybrid learning environment. They soon realized that others could add to and benefit from these types of professional conversations.
Many PE teachers have been attending webinars, taking online courses, listening to podcasts and reading books and articles in an effort to improve their teaching practice. When teachers find something great, they want to share it with anyone that will listen. Don’t Panic, Pandemic PE creates a platform for teachers from around the globe to network through regularly scheduled Zoom meetings, regardless of their current instruction mode (online, hybrid or traditional model).
The purpose of these round table discussions is simple really, to create a safe place for PE teachers to share what has worked or not worked for them and their students. Participants offer up strategies to maintain or improve student learning and make recommendations of people to follow on social media, podcasts to listen to and videos to watch. Perhaps the most important goals of this group is to build connections, encourage, support and inspire each other.
The weekly Tuesday evening sessions are impactful, as they benefit the attendees, their students, and their school communities. PE teachers gain knowledge about new trends in education; implementation strategies for best practices, increase their confidence, improve online efficiency and share innovative approaches. The topics vary week to week from how to do specific lessons with consideration for COVID mitigation guidelines to managing stress and the social emotional needs of students in a physically disconnected world.