Following My Own Advice

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!

5 responses to “Following My Own Advice

  1. LOVE IT!!!!! That was music to my ears. I am glad you are doing the experiments with your students and yourself. I especially like that you are finding exercise is making a difference. You can help to convert others to this way of thinking not just us physical educators.

  2. Hi there Mr. Ferguson. I am a student for the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I will be making a couple of posts on your blog for an assignment for this class.
    I sincerely enjoyed finding a new technique of how to help yourself concentrate. I will certainly have to try that. This exercise method of learning will certainly come in hand for essays that I have to write. Not only that, it’ll help teachers exercise their bodies and their minds without losing the task at hand.

    Thank you for sharing.

    If you want to read my blog and summary of my post on your post, please go to my blog. It is The summary will be up in about two weeks.

  3. Hey!
    It’s Regina again from the University of South Alabama. I love this post because so often we forget to follow our own advice. I know I am guilty of this all the time when I tell friends stuff but when the same thing happens to me I don’t follow through. Listening to our own advice is something that would help alot of our problems if we did it once in a while. While I’m not a big fan of raking leaves I do see how this works, I tend to clean up around the house before I do stuff or when I get tired. I never thought about it nor have a read about doing this but I guess it is true that it does work. I must admit that exercise for motivation is alot healthier than coffee and/or energy drinks.

  4. Hi,
    It’s May again from Dr.Stranges’ EDM 310 class. I can say that I have also experience this problem while doing homework. It’s nice to see that someone can admit that they need to take their own advice and then really act on it. Many people just like to preach, but not practice. I hope that I can do the same in other areas as you have with the exercise.

  5. Hi, my name is Krystin Pavey and I’m an Elementary Education major at the University of South Alabama. I have the same trouble when doing homework myself. I find that a lot of teachers today forget that children need a “brain break” in order to focus better. Some teachers seem so focused on “fitting all of the material in,” rather than giving students the break that the teachers themselves need. What a great post! Thanks for sharing!

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