Knowing our students during virtual PE

October 6, 2020 | Zachary Licato

Physical Education and Health are of vital importance for our 6th-8th grade. To meet those ends we aim to create an environment, through both virtual and in-person interaction that fosters strong emotional and trusting bonds among the students and within the Mustard Seed community. We also hope to create a place where they may express their emotions and physical ability in a myriad of ways. If we are in a Zoom class or face to face I may ask a question directed at the entire class, wait for hands to go up, and then select one of the few hands raised.

It provides us with a great assessment of the students for whom I’ve called on. However, what about the other students? Are they with us? And how do I know?

As I mentioned, we try to create a safe space where students can be active in the information they are receiving. For example, we will be talking about empathy this year and how among each other and within society it is vitally important to be empathetic. It is my goal for them to be actively engaged in their understanding of this specific topic. Creating a class to ask questions as well as directly focus on the act of empathy is key. This can be done in many ways and in the best way that fits the individual needs of the student. 

  • Making connections.
  • Recreating information.
  • Justify their conclusions about the value of empathy and either relate it to their own reaction or, under the guidance of the teacher, open the discussion to other students, who may convey stories of their own on the value of empathy.
  • Talking to each other.
  • Active – doing something with the information.
  • Reflecting at a conscious level.

Physical Education will be done virtually, and, as always, done with the idea that daily physical exercise will become an enjoyable and satisfying part of their lives. I will create videos ranging from HIT (High Intensity Interval Training), to stretching and strength building exercises, as well as yoga and dance classes. Students will be able to pick and choose from the videos and “choose their own adventure.” It will be important for myself to keep the energy high and the children engaged, and for the students to interact with each other online, have fun and enjoy the online experience as a viable but temporary substitute for outdoor physical activities.

Zachary Licato

Teacher, Physical Education and Health; Learning Support (7th Grade)

Mr. Licato is a proud lifelong resident of Hudson County. In addition to teaching Physical Education at Mustard Seed, he also coaches the Weehawken High School varsity baseball team, the Weehawken HS varsity football team and the Weehawken HS girls’ varsity basketball team.

During his time as a high school student, he played varsity football, baseball, and basketball, lettering in all three sports.

Mr. Licato grew up in an artistic family: his mother is a writer, and his father is the Artistic Director of Hudson Theatre Works, a professional theatre company located in Weehawken.

His greatest passions are coaching and teaching, but he also enjoys reading, listening to music, exploring the wide cultural food palate of local restaurants, and traveling with his wife, Gina.

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