Reimagining teaching Health and Physical Education during the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19): Challenges and concerns faced teaching HPE online.

Year: 2021

Author: Kucera, Carlos

Type of paper: Individual Paper

This article considers the challenges and concerns encountered by a health and physical educator in response to the novel Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in New Zealand. While digital and online pedagogies have often been advocated for in education, including the area of Health and Physical Education (HPE), the closure of schools in response to Covid-19 has forced many educators into the new and uncertain territory and practices.  The sudden need to teach HPE in an online environment has not only been challenging in terms of mastering the technologies for digital teaching, but it has also forced deeper reflection on the nature of education, learning strategies, pedagogical models, and even the content being taught. The aim of this study is to explore the lead author’s assumptions as a teacher in this context, and how he reimagined and changed his praxis when attempting to transition to online teaching. Specifically, this article examines the ways in which the lead author adapted, planed, and taught online lessons to his students during Covid-19 lockdowns in New Zealand, with additional consideration for the use of technology and the need to navigate social distancing requirements. To analyse and structure these reflections a self-study methodology with thematic analyses was used to investigate the lead author’s perceptions, teaching artifacts, critical colleague conversations, and personal journaling. Participants included the lead author (an HPE teacher at an intermediate school level), a critical friend, and two additional teacher educators. What emerges from this self-study is the way the Covid-19 pandemic helped to foreground an individual’s praxis and raises the importance of adapting content and strategies when teaching HPE online. While both unsettling and new, the thought of shifting one’s pedagogical practice online is challenging one’s beliefs and assumptions about teaching. The student’s perspective and the necessity of them being without technology during the proposed activities for the HPE lesson were importantly raised when building praxis and teaching online. Thus, migrating quickly to an online environment deeply challenges the educator’s teaching praxis beyond his technical proficiency. This required the ability to be coherent with his deeper beliefs, values, theoretical approaches, and practices as an educator. This study foregrounds a way of teaching HPE online and contributes to understating one teacher’s praxis for future distance teaching in HPE.