Exercise. Physical activity. Working out. Whatever name you give to this aspect of our lives, it’s important.
I just started back into an exercise routine. I hate it. I’m sore. I’m out of shape, again. I can’t do what I was doing only a few short months ago. Well, maybe more than a few months. But it’s less than an year!
It happens about twice a year – I begin exercising again. Somewhere between New Year and Easter my resolution once again becomes a memory. Even this year, when I was back at school and had access to a gym, it fell apart. I blame the long drives home and the late nights reading. Whatever the cause, I stopped and now I’m back at it. I know I’m going to be sore and it will take a few weeks to get back to what I was doing before without being sore for an entire week. I’ll be able to run my short circuit without almost passing out. I’ll vow I won’t let it fall apart this time. And who know, this could be the time where it goes from being a “want to” to a “routine habit”.
The biggest deterrent isn’t doing the exercise. It’s find the time. Making it a priority.
I don’t know why. As someone involved in sports all my life, I know how important it is. It’s helps the body to function better, it makes a person feel better and there are numerous studies that I’ve read about the benefits. In North America, there is a focus on children, teens, and adults exercising more and eating better. As someone who suffers from depression, I know how important it is to my own mental well-being.
So why don’t more people exercise regularly? Why isn’t it something that we build into the work day, negotiate into contracts, and allow people to build into their work schedule? Why isn’t a regular and scheduled part of every school day for every child? Why is something that is so important to health and well being something that is put into the “schedule it when I can” column? And why is it so hard to start? Why, knowing what we do about the benefits, isn’t it a priority for more people? And why do people who exercise seem to be kinda outliers? I mean, when I would go for a run during an admin retreat, people weren’t asking to join.
The same kind of questions can be asked of teachers and their willingness, or lack of it, to make changes, especially when it comes to technology. If we know that technology integration is important and teachers should be integrating it, why isn’t PD and teacher learning built into the day? Why isn’t time given to learning for teachers? Why aren’t there supports built in? Why does most of the learning get put into the “schedule it when I can “column”?
I guess that’s why, for most teachers, exercise and their own learning both get done “when I have time”.
Connecting – Exercise for our Learning
As I was going through my routine today, I was thinking about a post I had read by Jana Scott Lindsay – Courage to Connect. Jana, along with about 600 other connected friends, are taking part in a MOOC on Digital Citizenship – dcmooc. In the post, Jana discusses how it takes courage to connect to others:
Connecting requires real courage. It isn’t nearly as easy as many of the blogs I have read make it out to be. Sadly there isn’t a lock step process to venturing into this seeming uncharted terrain. No magic formula, no essential 10 tip list to follow that will make it the most smoothest of transitions. Just like anything else, it requires the desire to learn something new. To be willing to take a step in the direction you are headed, willing to make some mistakes, and know that it might not be as easy as others make it out to be.
Like exercise or making a decision to eat right or to change a habit or reach out ….. doing something requires that one gets started. And getting started is hard. Even if one knows the benefits and how much it will help. It’s easier to continue with the familiar, even if it’s not as good for us because change, well, change is tough.
It’s important to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates
And, although there is no lock-step method to making a change become a reality, there are a few things I’ve learned that helped me when I was leading change in the school.
1. Plan a destination/goal – have a vision and share that vision. Whatever change I was asked to make within a school, it was up to me as the school leader to have a plan for the changes. With experience, I learned to get input from different parties before I finalized any plan. I would start with the idea, the point where of focus and then begin to get input from others to help shape that point and determine a path.
2. Identify strengths – Take time to identify the different strengths that you have as an individual and what strengths the collective has.
3. Identify opportunities – Take the time to look at supports for what you are doing. Share and look for support. If you are beginning to try and connect with others outside your school, join a social media site and then do some research about how to get started.
4. Identify hazards – some people call these weaknesses – but to me they’re more a hazard that will derail you, not because you are weak but because they take you out before you can build enough momentum to continue on if you encounter one. In the classroom, when you are integrating technology, plan what you will do if the tech fails – the wifi goes down, the system crashes or, one of my favourites, the power blips. And the whole system needs to reboot and your students lost all their work and one is crying because they didn’t save and you’re in the corner curled up…. sorry, flashback. Be reasonable. Be honest. Don’t over exaggerate the issue and come up with a plan or two. So, as I get back to
5. Short-term, medium-term and long-term plan – take some time to be specific about your short term plans – the next two weeks. Plan them out. For me and my workouts, I even plan what I’ll eat, when I’ll exercise, what time I’ll get up, and other such items that are keys to my success. I’ll schedule my “off day” and plan something special – like now that it’s nice I’ll plan a nice bbq meal and then an option for rain, snow, sleet, gale force winds, etc. I then plan out the medium-term – 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks. Not specific because I don’t know what will happen in the short-term but where I want to end up if, all things being equal, things go somewhat according to plan. Finally, there’s the long-term plan. I am really good at this when it comes to change at school not-so-good at my own – the wheels usually come off my cart mostly because I’m working hard at not having them come off the cart in other areas, like family, school, teaching, ….
6. Take time – to reflect, refocus, refresh – this is a time when you need to reflect to see if you are on track, to give yourself time to recharge and refocus on your goal. I do this about week 8. Usually, when I’m exercising, I like this time to give my body a bit of a break. When I’ve been working hard at school change, it’s a time I take a break – I don’t stop but I do make sure I take a break. If I don’t, I end up like I did this past year – tired, worn-out, unfocused, unmotivated and disillusioned. I pushed too hard. Not only didn’t it help get results, I burned out.
When it comes to connecting with others, looking at what others who have been at it for awhile is the worst thing you can do. It’s your journey not theirs. There is no set routine that you can just adopt and, voila, you have instant connections just like you can’t just get instant health. You don’t have to do it alone. Seek out someone to help you. Connect with a few and work your way into more connections. It takes time, commitment, and, like Jana said, courage. Be courageous!