When was the last time you sat in a long meeting, PLC, or training. Feel free to call me out on this one from some meeting or PD you were in with me (“Tracy! That's that one long meeting with YOU!”)
If I can ask a personal question, how do you FEEL after sitting for that long? Do your legs go numb? Does your foot bounce up and down? Do you change posture over and over again? Does your backside get too tired of those plastic molded chairs we find almost everywhere?
Uhhhhh, Trace? Pot? Kettle?
Yup. I’m not a superstar at incorporating movement in my instruction or my PD, I admit it.
Sitting too long makes you tired. It makes your eyes glaze over. It makes you zone out. It makes your fitness tracker chirp at you. And if you sit there every day in 45-minute chunks (or longer!!) and rarely get to move ...
Your brain won’t work as well. You need oxygen to your brain, produced by body movement.
The average learner regardless of age (that means we- adults as well as our teens and tweens) needs to briefly move their bodies every 15-30 minutes If you’re in a 45 minute class, you need to have kids get up once in the middle. If you teach on block, you need to get them up multiple times a block.
Here are a couple of benefits of movement breaks:
- Brain needs processing time for short term memory
- As students return to content, their brains can refocus; movement re-energizes learning
- If students are uncomfortable or stressed, the brain will not retain new information easily.
- There is much less movement in today’s world of Ubereats, social media, and Shipt. Kids and grown ups need to move!
- Our best ideas often come when we are taking a break.
- Movement and collaboration heighten participation.
- Movement can builds relationships, self-esteem and sense of belonging
- Movement boosts listening skills and communication
Approximately 90% of the oxygen in our bodies are “stale” until we take a deep breath, yawn, or move.
- Lack of oxygen results in confusion, lack of focus, and memory problems.
“But Trace,” you say, “if I let my kids get up, they’ll go crazy!! (more likely in middle school) or “my kids will think it’s stupid and they won’t want to do it (more likely in high school)
If you’re worried your kids will get wacky, then set parameters, like you do with everyone else. Then don’t give them a “wiggle break” or a “stand and stretch” break. Instead, work it into your lesson.
Try things like
- Please walk around the room to find someone who chose the same answer you did. See if you two (or three) can explain why you chose what you chose.
- Please send one member of your group to me to check the answer.
- Go post your response on a sticky note on the board/question when you’re done.
- Do a gallery walk in small groups.
- Turn and talk -- but GET UP and find someone to talk to ... (whose name starts with the same letter as yours, someone whose birthday is in the same month as yours, someone who as the same math teacher as you.. whatever)
One last note -- Movement is one of the 6 Ms of Culturally Responsible Instruction. When kids are up and moving, they are interacting with each other. When they speak and are heard by each other, they are being culturally responsive. And when they get up and move you-the-old-person-teacher (yes, even you, recent-college-grad. You’re old in their eyes), your Old Self is being responsive to their youth culture. And youth (children and teens) need to MOVE! It’s developmentally appropriate. So with movement, you are incorporating a small piece of CRI (Culturally Responsive Instruction)
And today, it might get the blood flowing through their frozen little limbs.
Try some movement. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Put some rules/parameters on it and give it a purpose. You’ll be surprised at how much it improves student learning.
And then, get up and move it, move it. (You’re welcome for that Lin-Manuel Miranda "Moana" earworm!)
Let me know how it goes. Does your class implode? I hope not! Email me to tell me! email@example.com