Sep 04 2009

Practice What You Teach

Although we mourn the end of our summer vacation, the majority of us are genuinely looking forward to the beginning of the new school year. Sporting tans, a little less weight, and for a few of us some resemblance of muscle tone, we arrive refreshed, revived, and rejuvenated as we prepare our classrooms and ourselves for the “new year.”

Similar to the resolutions we attempt to make every New Year’s Eve, teachers set goals and objectives for their schoolwork but rarely for themselves. The time has come to change that! If teachers aren’t well rested, nourished, and physically fit, imagine the impact it has on our students. We need to establish the mindset and behavior which we were able to adopt during the summer and carry it over into the new school year.

So what type of steps can we take in order to insure that we are successful in our battle against the bulge in addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle for our students? First, we need to lead by example. Secondly, we must establish a nutrition and fitness program which spans throughout all curriculum areas and not just P.E. Finally, parents, teachers, and coaches need to work together as a team to help our children learn the importance of eating properly and exercising daily. The time has come for us to turn off the computer, lock up the remote controls, put down the chocolate and soft drinks, and get off our butts!

Over the summer, we had the opportunity to rest, exercise, get some sun, eat fresh foods, become more spiritually centered and lead a much more tranquil way of life. Our days were filled with fun and frivolity. Then, we set foot back on campus when we are presented with our first challenge, the dreaded “welcome back” faculty meeting. As a reward for not retiring or changing professions over the summer, we receive another canvass book bag overflowing with office supplies and the illicit GOODIE BAG!” Brightly colored wrappers and all too familiar labels like: Snickers, Reese’s, Kit Kat, and Twix adorn its content. Like Brad Pitt to a woman, we become hypnotically transfixed on its contents, but this year we are going to SNAP OUT OF IT! No more donuts, no more coffee cakes, no more half eaten picked over chocolate cakes and Toll House cookies in the faculty lounge. No more birthday parties full of enough sugar to send Cookie Monster into a diabetic seizure! Enough is enough!

To start the year off right, all it takes is a little pre-planning and support. Many of us succumb to temptation when we become stressed out or crunched for time. It is much quicker to grab a well preserved food item than it is to sit down and have a bowl of oatmeal, a piece of whole grain toast, or a salad. This is probably the main reason why many of us gain approximately 10 or more pounds throughout the course of the school year. Let’s face it, if the junk food or carbohydrates are there, we’ll eat it. The key is to pre-pack your own healthy snacks and lunches just like we ask the parents to do for their children. As for support, there is something to be said for “safety in numbers.” Whether it’s from friends, family, co-workers, or even strangers, the best remedy for individuals who are battling any type of behavioral or physical issue is support. So get together with other teachers and administrators in your school and come up with some suggestions for implementing a nutrition and exercise program for the staff. Check out some of the suggestions and resources below.

Suggestions and Resources

Organize an independent on site support group which will meet once a week to discuss health and fitness issues.

Contact a weight loss company such as Weight Watchers and ask them to hold on site meetings before or after school.

Find a fitness center which will offer employee discounts for staff members at a local gym.

Get another teacher or friend to be your workout buddy.

Organize on site fitness classes such as: Yoga, Zumba, water aerobics, fitness swimming etc…

Purchase a set of fitness videos and get a couple of people to work out in the faculty lounge, gym, or even a classroom before or after school.

Contact a nutrition expert or chef to offer monthly cooking classes on how to prepare healthy snacks and meals.

Get involved with a charity and participate in a fitness training and fundraising program such as: Team In Training, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Live Strong Army, Vision Walk, Race for Autism, etc…

Or you can sign up for an online program like the National Body Challenge 2008: which provides you with an online weight tracker, customized meal plans, delicious recipes, workout videos, expert diet and fitness advice, and lots more.

Many of the above suggestions can also be utilized by your students and parents and integrated into your curriculum. One great beginning of the year activity would be to purchase a classroom set of pedometers. They come in a variety of price ranges to suit your budget or the parents can purchase them on their own. Teachers and students can do the next activity together to begin their quest of improving their health and fitness programs.


Discuss the benefits of being active such as:

* strong muscles and bones
* weight control
* decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
* more academically motivated and alert
* higher self esteem

Have the students predict how many steps they think a person should walk in a day.walking routine, beginning walking, beginner walker”

Recent reports suggest that an individual should walk approximately 10,000 steps per day.

Based on that information, ask the students how far they think they could go in 10,000 steps.

Discuss that the average person’s stride length is approximately 2.5 feet long.

Using that information, have the students calculate how many steps it would take to walk one mile and then 5 miles.

It takes just over 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps is close to 5 miles.

Ask the children if they think their average stride length is 2.5 feet long and have them explain why or why not.

Have the children measure the length of their own stride and try to calculate the number of steps it would take them to walk one mile and then 5 miles.

Give the children a pedometer and have them log the number of steps they have taken during the course of one week.

Figure out the average number of steps they take in a day.

Brainstorm ways they could increase their average number of steps per day.

From the list, have the students select one thing they could do to increase their daily average of steps and implement it into their program.

Log and discuss the results. Students may keep adding one strategy to their routine a week and log and discuss the results.

Have the children observe and journal their experiences taking note of any mental or physical challenges or changes that have occurred during their journey.

Suggest a team challenge between classmates, classes, or schools.


Posted in: Teacher To Teacher