Navigating the Virtual Teaching World

Teachers are being asked to teach in a time of crisis and this situation is new to everyone. There is no right or wrong way to go about engaging our students, it is just different than what we are used to. At BOKS, we wanted to know how some of our BOKS trainers and teachers are coping with this new reality, so we reached out to ask some questions about how they are navigating the virtual teaching world and if they had any advice for families during this time.

What Does Teaching Look like Now?

Many teachers have had to switch so quickly and, on the fly, to figure out what this looks like for them and their students. We asked teachers what a typical teaching day looks like now and many spoke about the use of technology and social media to support their students. “My teaching day is much different and took me a while to get a handle on. Now as the weeks go on with remote learning, I have a better idea of what my students can complete online, approximately how much work to post and the support that they’ll need,” said Nori Miwa an elementary school teacher from Toronto, Ontario.

Clay Cartie, an elementary teacher from Kamloops, BC explained. “I try to make my teaching days very similar to being at school. We start the day with BOKS using the YouTube resources that I send to my students.

Thorsten Gohl from Fort Providence, Northwest Territories highlighted some unique challenges their students have. “Schools in the North, in smaller communities like ours, are still figuring out on how to provide any learning to our students. We are in a situation where most households do not have access to the internet and/or any devices.”

Online resources and virtual teaching can be unique and look different for many. As we continue to go forward in an unprecedented time it is important for kids, teachers and parents to understand that there is no right or wrong way of teaching, just different.

How are you integrating physical activity into your classes?

BOKS programming is being integrated into at home learning in many different ways across the country – whether schools opt to start their day with it, do BOKS burst activities throughout the day or integrate lessons into their PE classes. Now more than ever it is important to engage in movement and we asked our trainers and teachers how they are integrating physical activity into their day for students.

Amy Kendall, an elementary teacher in Richmond Hill, Ontario, has linked BOKS Bursts into her google classroom under a “daily physical activity tab” and is encouraging families to complete one every day. She is also excited to start posting a video of her completing an active activity and challenging her students to do the same.

Eduardo Behar from Toronto, Ontario is also sharing BOKS resources with his students and has them take pictures of themselves completing the activities. He then adds the pictures to the google classroom PowerPoint that he has created for them.

A similar strategy is being utilized at École Mille-Sports in Saint-Hubert, Quebec challenging students to complete a movement activity, to film themselves doing it and then send it to the school. Francis Lemieux, the Physical Education teacher from this school explained the highlights of this challenge. “What makes the challenge project very interesting is that all the school staff also participate in the daily challenge. Several parents are also involved every day with their child(ren). Each day, the children can see all the videos made by the other students at the school. This has increased the sense of belonging within our school during this time of remote learning. The current situation has had the beneficial and positive effect of creating a habit of moving around (getting physically active) at home on a daily basis, a habit that was not yet present in all of the students.”

Krista Richards a Physical Education teacher from Moncton, New Brunswick, is having success using the schools’ Facebook page to provide students and families with daily activities.

Cristina Pupo from St. Evans Elementary School in Ontario uses twitter to engage students daily. She has scheduled many movement breaks for the students from different community partners including BOKS Facebook Live Workouts. “We love doing them at my own house, they are fun and a great way to get moving as a family”.

Kellie Shillington, a Physical Education elementary teacher from Nova Scotia is also using the power of social media at this time to engage her students in physical activity by posting a new activity every day.

Words of advice

We asked our trainers and teachers for any advice they have for families and students and this is what they shared with us:

  • Go outside and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.
  • The biggest advice I could give families is to stay active, as it helps keep a positive mind set, which will help them focus on school assignments and mental wellbeing during this difficult time.
  • The biggest thing I know that parents are worried about is them regressing in school. Every single kid is in the same boat and they all will be ok. We will just meet them where they are when we get back to school.
  • Create a family schedule to keep everyone on track. It is easy to get caught up in the day. Our family has a whiteboard in the kitchen that we all make together. It includes school time, walk time, dinner plans, family challenges. My kids also have their own whiteboards in their rooms to manage their school day and keep on top of what needs to be handed in and when.
  • My advice would be to do what is best for their families. I’ve told parents to do what they can and that the work is here for them to use when they are able to, but not to add any stress to parents or children.
  • I want families to enjoy being together during this time, making memories, and enjoying the learning process, not stressing over it. I also want parents to know they are SUPERSTARS.  I want the students to know that it is OK to have lots of questions, lots of worries…especially the younger ones.

Some of our favorite quotes from our teachers/trainers

“I miss seeing each of you every day! Peeking your heads into the gym, having this very unoriginal conversation, OVER & OVER again ….”

“Mrs. Payne, what are we doing today?”

“You’ll see!”

“Is it _____?”

“Could it be_____?”

“Can we_______?”

Stacy Payne, Cavalier Drive School, Sackville, Nova Scotia

“I’m not worried about them missing out on the math or the language lessons, the science or the social studies, I’m worried about missing out on the “magic” that is this time of year. Where they feel so comfortable telling you a silly joke because they know you’ll laugh anyway, they know they don’t need to ask you for help anymore because you can always see it and you’re ready to help, all of their quirks become normal to you at this time and that’s what we’re missing out on.”

Beth Dart, Palmerston Public School, Toronto, ON

Engaging in physical activity and movement was a key message from our trainers and teachers to support their student’s overall health and well-being. Many are using the BOKS resources or engaging in some form of challenge with their students and families to keep movement fun and engaging. It is important to keep moving and doing what is best for your family. We want to thank all trainers and teachers that took the time to provide us with their thoughtful answers and hope that their advice and messages resonate with you. Remember we are not “stuck” at home, we are “safe” at home.

Kyla Crocker

Regional Coordinator, Central Canada