How Manitoba Phys Ed Teachers give lessons in perseverance during COVID-19 pandemic

By | April 14, 2020

WINNIPEG — Classrooms are empty across the province, after the Manitoba government suspended schools indefinitely to stop the spread of COVID-19. But some dedicated physical education teachers are finding creative ways to keep students active by flexing their social media skills. 

“I just thought what a great way to not only keep my students physically active, but for them to continue to see my face,” said Westdale Junior High phys ed teacher Emily Erickson. “It’s a lot more engaging than sending them emails or quick messages.”

Every week, Erickson posts videos on Instagram encouraging students to keep moving at home. In one workout video, Erickson blasts AC/DC’s classic rock anthem “Thunderstruck” while showing her grade six to eight students how to plank. “I get messages from students saying they really enjoyed the workout.

Erickson said the posts also keep her on a schedule and give her focus. “It’s just a way to put a positive twist on everything going on right now.”


The phys-ed department at J.H. Bruns Collegiate is also using social media as a teaching tool, posting one workout video a day. The account has hundreds of followers. “I had one student tell me it’s the highlight of her day,” said J.H. Bruns Collegiate teacher Kris Funk. 

Funk has been teaching for ten years. He says the videos help him connect with kids, especially those who are overwhelmed under these extreme circumstances. “Right now a lot of our students are dealing with a ton of anxiety and stress. So we’re really trying to push physical activity, not just to keep the body healthy, but the mind healthy.” 

He said the videos also give students some of sense of routine, after COVID-19 upended their educations. “I think the students like seeing us everyday, it makes it a little more normal for them and a little more normal for us. It’s almost like I’m in front of a class.” 

The online workouts have also become a family affair. Funk’s young daughter made a cameo in one post, set to the soundtrack of the Beastie Boys. “I got a lot of feedback when I was trying to reproduce kettle bell swings, and I used my baby…safely,” laughed Funk.


Elementary phys-ed teacher Jesse Klym works at Ecole Stanley Knowles and also tries to incorporate laughter into his lesson plan. 

He regularly posts work-out videos and challenges for students. In one video, he demonstrates how to play a game he invented dubbed “Roofball.” I was as part of a challenge encouraging his students to come up with a new sport. “In some videos, I can be pretty goofy. So hopefully, they’re getting a kick out of it.” 

Klym also produces his video with parents in mind as well. The digital lessons help “burn out all that energy, because (the children) are probably driving mom or dad crazy.”








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