How does someone who teaches physical education continue to keep students engaged while also practicing social distancing? That’s the challenge facing many educators with the closure of schools due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). One Redbird has found the answer using the highly popular social media platform, Tik Tok.

Athletic trainer and physical education teacher graduate Jaylon Joyner ’17, ’18 works at Christ the King Jesuit College Prep on Chicago’s west side. He holds several roles there, including athletic trainer, health and wellness teacher, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes adviser.

On a normal school day in his PE role, Joyner creates activities for students while discussing the importance of staying active in his health and wellness courses. Joyner has not let online delivery of classes get in the way of working with his students to make them get up and move.

He started a plan to send at-home workouts and in return, asked for pictures and videos when students completed them. His coworkers suggested he use Tik Tok. It is a free social platform for sharing user-generated videos where people generally use popular songs to lip sync, dance, talk, or do other activities. Users can browse and interact with another user’s content.

Joyner downloaded the app and decided to surprise his students with his creative assignment. And surprised they were. Joyner kept his Tik Tok videos a secret until he posted the assignments. The response was better than he could have imagined.

“A couple students commented that they were shocked and excited that I downloaded it,” he said. “I teach about 115 students and expected six or seven to participate, but more than a quarter of my students posted their own Tik Tok videos of my workouts.”

The videos range from cardio, core and arm workouts, or something fun like kickboxing. Although each video is no longer than one minute, Joyner said each Tik Tok creates about 15 minutes worth of physical activity and learning experience. Short does not mean easy, however, as Joyner said that students must practice each move prior to recording.

His videos are not just a hit among his students. Some have included their parents and

siblings doing the Tik Tok workouts too. This has inspired Joyner to create partner workout Tik Toks with his fiancé to get more people active and involved. He knows it is not just the students that could use some fun activities in their lives right now, but whole families.

As a teacher and someone who values physical and mental health, Joyner is thrilled to see students participating and enjoying this assignment. His favorite part of the process is watching his students’ videos.

“It’s amazing watching them try really hard despite some of the workouts being challenging,” he said. “It also gives everyone a good laugh, which is what we need to do more of during these times.”

In addition to students staying physically fit, they are also learning how to monitor their active and resting heart rates along with understanding the importance of exercising at least 150 minutes throughout the week to maintain their physical and mental well-being

Personally Joyner is using this time to connect with God and himself. “I exercise, spend time with God, and I try not to focus too hard on the news. I am still aware of what’s happening in our world, but I do not want to inflict fear on myself,” he said. “This is an opportunity to spend quality time with your families at home and communicate with each other.” Joyner added. “Get a lot of rest and do things that make you happy.”

Joyner is one of many having to be creative as an educator more challenged than ever to keep students learning. Thanks to this Redbird, anyone can now get in a good workout with the help of Tik Tok and Joyner’s posts.