When I got up this morning, I had a lot of work to do, most of it writing comments about my students. Three times a year I have to write a paragraph about each student that I teach. My goal is to make the parents smile and say, “She really knows my child.” It is one of those Love/Hate tasks. It really helps me to take the time to focus on each individual child and try to describe her as she is in my classroom. It is incredibly demanding though. While part of what I write is about her skills, most of it is about her as an individual. There is no Cutting and Pasting that works. Each comment is unique to each girl.
As I was getting myself set up, arranging all of the papers and pieces of evidence that I had collected during the trimester, I remembered my previous blog post about the importance on exercise when using the brain. Part of me wanted to shrug it off and get straight to the task at hand, but another part of me thought that it would be just as good an experiment with me as it was with my students. So I went outside and began to briskly rake leaves. The air was crisp and clear with a gentle wind blowing. The leaves were dry and easy to rake. It felt great to be outside and since I love to rake, it was a great start to the day. I had to discipline myself to stop after 20 minutes and head back inside to the real task of the day.
I sat down and the comments started coming. I felt awake and alert, definitely less in need of caffeine to create the energy. I worked with barely a pause for an hour and a half, at which point I started to feel distracted and lethargic. I had lost my sense of control over the material that I was using to understand each student and each comment was starting to sound similar, rather than unique. I realized that it was time to re-energize my brain. I got up and went back outside. There was no guilt or sense of avoidance. I was doing what would help my complete the task I needed to do, and exercise was part of doing the work of the day. Again, I spent about 20 minutes, raking and enjoying the fresh air. I wasn’t happy to leave it and head inside, but my brain was back on task when I got there. I stayed at it for another couple hours.
It was just fun to practice what I had been preaching last week to my students. Exercise and movement do indeed help the brain to work better!