Today is the end of our marking period. It has been a rocky ride so far. We have had so many changes coming at us that most of the staff feels overwhelmed. A few of the changes have been a new principal (and new expectations), a new version of our online grade book that needs Internet Explorer, mandated posting of plans online (needs Google Chrome), collecting evidence for our teacher evaluation evidence binders, etc. This doesn't begin to address the need to find materials to meet the academic needs of my students. I am spending longer and longer days at school, including weekends, to get myself prepared. I am making things to meet the needs of students. Don't get me wrong, there are a few bright moments in my days, actually 53 to be exact. I love my kids. We are enjoying the part of the day we spend together.
One thing that we have really enjoyed are our walks. You would never guess by looking at me (no picture on this site for a reason) that I value physical fitness. My own asthma and other health issues prevent me from running, but I walk whenever I can find the time. During Cross Country season, my walks are from one place on a course for picturing taking, to another, then on to the finish line.
Two years ago, I got a pedometer for a student that wouldn't participate in gym, and got him to move. He lost weight, and slowly integrated himself back into gym class. He earned a good grade for the first time. Personally, that semester I walked 100 miles as part of a staff challenge. This summer, I walked over 50 miles in less than a month (read about it here). Recently, my walks have been on our campus at school. I walk with students two to three times per week, with two classes, as part of "The Walking Classroom".
I read about "The Walking Classroom" on a blog last year. (I don't remember which one, because I read so many!). When I read about "The Walking Classroom", I knew I had to be a part of this. I was awarded a classroom set of Walk Kits and a walking curriculum. The Walk Kit is like an mp3 player with over ninety podcasts aligned to common core. Students listen to the podcasts as we walk. The podcasts discuss language arts, social studies and science topics. We recently listened to a podcast on "Who's on First". The kids loved it. They liked the play on words, and it got them hooked on walking. They keep asking to walk more. Parents and a grandparent have signed up to walk with us. We have a set course we do most of the time because I have a wheelchair bound student. When we walk without him, we go around the playground and sports complex, with him we stick to blacktop and sidewalks. Even on cold days, the first thing students ask is, "Are we walking today?" I include some pull-out students that are not in my reading or language arts classes. It helps them feel like they belong.
After the walk, students discuss the topic in class, take a quiz over the podcast, and may use the podcast as a springboard for another assignment. When you are getting more and more frazzled, consider taking a walk. Even better, take students with you.