Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Trudging Through The Rain

Because I'm probably crazy, I volunteer two afternoons a week at an inner city Catholic School.  I facilitate reading circles of 3-5 kids on Wednesdays and teach small groups of students in grades 1 through 6 math facts - Math In Motion - named by the kids themselves.

The Math In Motion is physically demanding.  I'm standing for hours, keeping the kids moving around while learning multiplication, addition, and subtraction.  In addition, this school is almost 100 years old so it has very high ceilings and thus very long staircases.  Up and down I go, from class to class, pulling out my small groups of kids every 20 minutes or so, toting my huge bag full of small toys, books, math grids, and lots of treats.  It's fun but taxing.

On Wednesdays, I facilitate several reading circles.  So, I have homework (gotta read those books), practice crowd control, and try to show the enthusiasm I have for reading by attempting to bring the stories to life with words and some physical activities.

And - AND - the school has 2 buildings that are across the street from each other.  Most days, the 100 yard dash between buildings, across a street, through two playgrounds, and up more stairs, is not very challenging.  On days like we have here so often in the Fall, walking between buildings in drizzle, rain, downpours is NOT FUN!  It's the one time I really don't want to take a walk.  Who would?  Only my dog and some ducks.

But, trudge across that street I do.  I'm on a mission.  At first I thought my mission was to help with reading.  But after almost 3 semesters at this school, it has become clear that my mission is to work with kids on their math skills - and to be a resource for teachers with kids that need to leave their classrooms because of behavior problems.  I love it!

This is another case of baby steps.  I have to start slow to assess the kids' levels of competency AND I have to earn their trust because I'm going to be helping them with things that are hard for them and they just simply do not want to do.

There's magic here!  When we move the kids out of their desks to learn their multiplication tables both their attitudes and their mastery improve.  I was calling them Math-letes and Math Stars when they began calling my little classes Math In Motion.  I love that name.  It embodies two major elements they require to become successful at math.

Further, the lead classroom teachers seem receptive to this idea.  Now, instead of making a kid sit out if s/he misbehaves, they are more likely to have the kid to jumping jacks or push ups!  It really works.  Get that Serotonin pumping in their brains.  Give them an alternative to sitting down most of the day.  The kids are taking it well - viewing it less as punishment and more as a logical consequence of not paying attention or not doing their work.

One day, I shared an article I had read about a smart gal who put an exercise bike and a treadmill in her office to make her feel better and keep her on track with her plan to lose weight.  A light bulb went off in my head so I am now seeking permission to freecycle some of that exercise equipment in each classroom for the kids to de-stress and give themselves attitude adjustments in a mere few minutes of biking or walking.  I know this will be a good idea and there is plenty of room in those huge old classrooms for several pieces of exercise equipment.  The lead teacher I was originally assigned to also likes the idea and will float it to the principal.

Can I help kids from underprivileged neighborhoods learn better, work harder, be more positive and enthusiastic about school?  I'm no Pollyanna.  That road is a steep uphill incline that goes on and on.  But, if I can make it better for a couple of kids, I'll have done my job.

Consider using such equipment in your own home for yourself and for your family members, especially kids.  Include such activities as a normal part of life.  Make life easier for them and yourself by allowing natural activity to enhance their ability to learn and grow emotionally.  It's a small thing.  Baby steps can change lives.

The top picture is fantastic Ms.Hogan teaching her second grade class last year.  The other photo is one I ran across on line - a dream that might be fulfilled!

*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

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