Nine years ago, I decided to add physical activity to our school day. It was a time where our district changed. My students only had physical education class every other day. On the days we did not have P.E., we started training for a 5K that happens every May in our city. Needless to say, the students were excited!
We started out slowly and increased our stamina as the weeks wore on. We decided to invite our parents for a “Run with your Loved-One 5K” on Valentine’s Day. It was icy, and it was a bit chilly (only 7 degrees!) … but it was a huge success. Ever since that day, I vowed to do that with every class that came my way. Over the years, I have had a lot of positive feedback, mostly from parents.
A few years later my program was still going strong. I increased my students’ physical activity to four or five days per week instead of just the two or three when they had gym class. With childhood obesity on the rise and recent research studies linking physical activity to higher test scores, I was convinced I was doing the right thing.
Looking back, I’m not sure when it happened, but I started receiving some negative feedback. It was coming from a few teachers in my building. They were concerned I was wasting valuable instructional time because of the walks/runs I was doing with my students. On top of that, we had a lot of change in our administration. We had four different principals in just six years! Each time a new principal arrived, before I could meet to explain what I was doing, the naysayers told the principal I was wasting time outside.
One of them even went so far as to say the students weren’t safe outside on our walks, that someone could pull up in a van and kidnap them! Thankfully, after each principal heard how we “worked” through our milk breaks, so we could steal 15 to 20 minutes of physical exercise, and I proved I was teaching all standards and benchmarks assigned, the principal believed in my program. But I still had a select few teachers questioning me at all times.
Earlier this fall I was at a workshop and heard the presenter tell us about The Walking Classroom. I was in awe. This was the answer to all the naysayers! This was GENIUS! It was like killing two birds with one stone! Now I could take my students out for exercise AND have them learning while doing it!
When our WalkKits first arrived, I don’t know who was more excited…me or the students!? I absolutely LOVE the philosophy. I LOVE the lessons. They are so enjoyable.
Now I just check the vast list of topics before each walk, find the one that correlates to whatever we are studying that week and head out! When my students see “Walking Classroom” on the planner when they arrive in the morning, their smiles say it all. Best of all, no one can ever say we waste time walking outside anymore!
Thank you for the Walking Classroom!
4th Grade Teacher