by Kathy Cassels
One would think there was little to no relationship between daily physical activity and teacher collaboration time; however, you might want to think again. Several schools in the Coast Mountain School District have found a unique way to bring the two together. Last week, I met Principal Mark Newberry from John Field Elementary School in Hazelton, BC. He told me the story of how his whole student population starts each day, led by student leaders in the gym dancing and moving for 30 minutes of daily physical activity. While students get active, teachers take time to collaborate on their three school goals, literacy, culture and social responsibility. He said “It’s a win win all around for the whole school.”
Some benefits of the approach include allowing late arrivals join in with welcome nods and hellos from friends rather than queries from teachers, and where last year there was little opportunity for staff collaboration, the consistency of 30 minutes each morning for working together has improved relationships among school staff and improved school culture overall.
The approach was not without some resistance expressed initially. At first teachers were concerned about loss of teaching time and worried about overstimulated students returning to class. However, intentional support and mindfulness strategies integrated into the beginning of class time, supported all learners to be ready to learn and any resistance quickly vanished.
Meeting Mark was part of a planned discussion between educators and North West health authority representatives to explore “What could physical and mental well-being look like for learners in our K-7 schools?” and “How can the Northern Health Authority representatives contribute to our efforts?” These two questions reference the work at DASH in Healthy Schools BC where we aim for BC students to learn, play and thrive in healthy school communities.
I’m looking forward to staying in touch with John Field Elementary School to learn more about their efforts to address literacy, culture and social responsibility through a unique approach of daily physical activity and teacher collaboration. Stay tuned!
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