This post is part of this year’s Walk This Way series, designed to share The Walking Classroom experiences of teachers and students across the United States. This post provides a glimpse into Dawn Rensel’s class.
Here in Ohio, Mother Nature gave us an early snowfall and record-breaking temperatures! With the sight of the snow falling outside the classroom window, one of my students announced disappointment that we wouldn’t be able to do the Walking Classroom because of the snow.
When Winter Weather Strikes, Have a “Plan B”
This quickly initiated loud discussions about alternative options to walking outside. I informed my kids that one must always have a “Plan B” up their sleeve in case “Plan A” falls through. I live for these little life lessons that my students initiate!
We all agreed as a class that our “Plan B” would be to walk around the perimeter of the gym with earbuds in place. This way, the students would still walk, listen, and learn, getting the movement we strive for with this program.
. . . and Keep Incorporating those Special Jobs!
As in every classroom, I have a mixture of learning styles, ESL kids, and students with challenging behaviors. However, The Walking Classroom is a game changer for these kiddos, especially my students who wiggle a lot and my behavioral students.
When I go over my rules and expectations of the Walking Classroom in the beginning of the year, I include three special jobs, and I make a HUGE deal about these individuals who are assigned these jobs. One, there must always be a leader in the front of the line who sets the pace and stops at all four corners of the block. Second, we have a special walker in the middle who also makes sure that the kids are obeying the walking rules and keeping up with the pace. Third, our “caboose” is in the back of the line making sure there are no stragglers.
I ALWAYS make sure to assign these jobs to any student who may have some challenging behavioral issues. Knowing that there are only three very important jobs means everything to the kids who may be possessing these behaviors.
Behavioral Benefits Kick In!
Once the kids are out and walking around the block listening to the podcast, there are no other issues. The kids getting fresh air, having a listening device, and these special titles are my secret weapons! I have witnessed a total behavioral change when the Walking Classroom is fully implemented.
Kids in general want to please their teachers. What better way to please me than to perform well at the very special Walking Classroom job that they have earned and are expected to carry out like the leader I believe they are. The disruptive behavior in my classroom has decreased significantly when I utilize The Walking Classroom effectively all year long.
My more challenging fourth grade students do not want to lose their important job title with The Walking Classroom, so they follow rules and take ownership and responsibility for their learning. These students are the ones always asking when we will be walking, even though we have a set walking schedule, and they always try to sneak in an extra walk during the week (ha-ha!).
Happy Snowy Trails from Ohio!
Fourth Grade Teacher