“I basically took everything and threw it out the window,” said Neil Johnson, a physical education teacher at Rancho Mirage Elementary School.
Johnson has been a P.E. teacher for 20 years, but this year looks a little different. However, the goal remains the same.
“It’s always the goal of a P.E. teacher to instill healthy habits at a really young age, that way when, as they grow into adults, they’re already living a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Johnson said he has had to come up with creative ways to help his students reach their yearly goals. For example, having his third grade class practice throwing with rolled up socks and a laundry basket. He says the biggest challenge has been trying to communicate with dozens of kids all at once through Zoom.
“I hope we can keep our students engaged throughout the year doing this. The kids that put a lot of effort into it will reach their goals and the kids that don’t put the effort into it, won’t,” he said.
Johnson leads students through different workouts. One fifth grader says he’s happy to still have P.E. since he isn’t able to play sports like normal, but describes the virtual class as…
“Harder and less fun than in real life,” said Luke Weingarten, a fifth grader at Rancho Mirage Elementary School.
Students also have the option to log onto Google Classroom and choose an activity to do for credit on their own time. He says it was a big learning curve the first couple of days, but he's seen major improvements.
“Physical education has never been more important than it is right now. Students are forced to live sedentary lives right now, sitting at computers, and sedentary bodies lead to sedentary minds,” said Johnson.
For the first time ever, last year California had to cancel the statewide physical fitness test for grades five, seven, and nine. Johnson said it is back on this year.