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Avoid Burnout Tip: Get Moving During the School Day

May 12, 2010

Do you find your students are having difficulty staying with it certain times of the day – like just after lunch?  How about you?  What is your energy level like that same time of day your students are having difficulty focusing?

Sometimes right when everyone is starting to look all glassy-eyed , it’s useful to take a moment to get up and move around.  It might mean having everyone stand up and stretch.  Or today, I heard about a teacher who had hit a lull in his math lesson, and got everyone up and moving doing  jumping  jacks while they recited math facts.

In my self-contained fifth grade class, we had lunch scheduled right before we were supposed to do math.  Well, you can imagine what that was like.  The students were sluggish, and many of them didn’t like math.  Heck, I didn’t like it much on a full stomach either.  I felt it was worthwhile to take ten minutes at the beginning of class to walk or run around the playground or gym.  I made it a routine beginning on the first day of school.  Each student, and myself, kept a journal of goals and progress – complete with graphs. We kept track of our miles.  It was a marvelous way to integrate math with fitness.  In the beginning, for a time, I had to bring up the rear, keeping those who were unmotivated, well, motivated.

That ten minutes of fitness was one of the best things I ever did for math achievement and classroom management.  For one, students were able to get the ants out of their pants and settle down.  Their blood was circulating nicely after that ten minutes of exercise, so their brains were able to focus. The productivity was excellent, as was the progress.  Best of all – because of the two things I just mentioned, there weren’t  a lot of behavior problems for the rest of the afternoon.

One more important thing – and this is one of the things we teachers don’t like to focus on – I was getting some exercise, and getting to interact with my students on a different level.  I was modeling positive, healthy behavior, and we all know how powerful that is.

So, get creative.  Find ways to fit in movement – for your students and for yourself.

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