Healthy Practice

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The trainer at the YMCA said to his new recruit, “It’s pretty simple. There are two ways to get out of shape: eat worse and exercise less. And there are two ways to get in shape: eat better and exercise more. There are many shortcuts that may give you temporary gains, but for transformative health you’ve got to figure out a way to do both of these things. Every. Single. Day.”

For the rest of the personal training session he gave strategies and encouragement, but it was pretty clear his speech was done. There really wasn’t anything more to say.

“Thank you,” the exerciser said at the end. “I feel great. I’ll see you next week.”

It had obviously been an effective coaching session.

I tried to imagine what that would sound like in teaching. What does it mean to have a healthy practice? To be in great teacher shape?

“It’s pretty simple,” I could say. “There are three ways to get out shape: forget about relationships, stop growing and ignore feedback. And there are three ways to get in shape: focus on relationships with kids, continually deepen your content knowledge and pay attention to what kids say and do that shows you what they know. There are many things that can distract us on our path, but transformative teaching demands those three things. Every. Single. Day.”

I’ve had this on my mind lately. Am I focusing on relationships? Am I learning about my content daily? Am I kidwatching and kidasking every time I’m in a classroom? While I’m in pretty good teacher shape, fitness opportunities await me today.

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