Originally published Jan. 5, 2021 by The Finger Lakes Times.
The myriad COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions have changed the way most teachers provide instruction, whether students are learning in person or at home.
Perkins School physical education teacher Sue Moak is no exception.
After the shutdown in March, she began teaching all of her students remotely using Seesaw software. She did her best to provide fun and interesting videos — a handful starring herself — to keep her students engaged in the serious matter of staying healthy and fit.
Since school reopened in September, Moak’s duties have changed, but her determination to keep at-home learners engaged has not. In fact, her efforts have increased.
While she still teaches PE classes to first-graders at Perkins each morning, she’s now tasked with providing PE to the 114 remote learners at Perkins and Lincoln schools. Chris Hager and Stephen Todaro are providing the in-person PE instruction at Perkins and Lincoln, respectively.
Once Moak’s PE classes are done, she goes right to work preparing 10- to 15-minute virtual lessons and activities for her at-home students.
In many of the assignments, she asks students to send her back a video of themselves performing various locomotor skills (jumping, hopping, skipping), manipulative skills (underhand and overhand throwing and catching), or fitness activities showing what they’ve just learned so she can determine if they are doing it correctly.
Watching and evaluating all the videos and providing feedback is time consuming, but Moak says it’s worth it.
“Students who are receiving PE instruction virtually are getting the best PE I can provide,” she said. “I try to make it as much fun and as interesting for my students as if they were in school because it’s not much fun being at home away from teachers and friends.”
Moak has received positive feedback from appreciative parents who tell her their kids are enjoying PE while learning at home. An example: One of her student’s grandparents sent her a note stating her grandson loved the fitness unit activity in which he learned about the various parts of the body and how they function.
“He went back to you teaching the system several times,” she wrote. “Thank you so much for all that you do.”
“Mrs. Moak is relentless in teaching high-quality physical education in any environment,” said Chris Corey, director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics for the Newark Central School District. “Our entire UPK-12 Physical Education staff has embraced the unique challenge of engaging learners in physical activity through distance learning. Mrs. Moak is our leader in this area, researching best practices and creating original content that meets the needs of our learners. She has always set the standard for high quality physical education and that has not changed despite shifting predominantly from in-person to distance learning.”