Newark PE teacher adjusts to online instruction

COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions have changed the way most teachers provide instruction, whether students are learning in-school or at home.

Perkins School physical education teacher Sue Moak is no exception.

After the shutdown in March, she started teaching students remotely using Seesaw software and worked to provide fun and interesting videos, some starring herself, to keep her students healthy and fit.

Moak’s duties have changed since school reopened in September, but her determination to keep at-home learners engaged has not. In fact, her efforts have doubled.

Along with teaching PE classes to first graders at Perkins each morning, she’s 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 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 videos 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 these videos and sending back feedback is time-consuming, but Moak said 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 parents who say their kids are enjoying PE while learning at home. One of her student’s grandparents sent a note stating her grandson loved the fitness unit activity where he learned about the various parts of the body and how they function.

"Mrs. Moak is relentless in teaching high-quality physical education in any environment,” said Chris Corey, director of health, PE 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."

Sue Moak, physical education teacher at Perkins School in Newark, is finding virtual ways to keep her students engaged in staying healthy.