Slice of Life: Let’s Take a Walk

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Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.

~Henry David Thoreau~

My cat has cabin fever. He has always preferred being outside, but as he’s grown older, he spends more time inside. The cold and snow are no longer an adventure for him. So he bats at my yarn when I knit, chases nothing into the front hallway, and tries to toss his scratching pad into the air like a frisbee. He’s quite entertaining.

I miss being outside, too. I usually walk a mile or two each Saturday and Sunday, with shorter walks squeezed in here and there. But the snowbanks are too high, the roads too narrow, and the temperatures too low to walk outside for any distance.

These walks clear my head and stretch my thinking. Most often, I walk with my dear friend, Colette, and we hash out all the problems of the world. Our teaching experience is at opposite ends of the spectrum (her’s mainly in a high school English classroom, mine mostly elementary), which helps us each gain a better perspective on education in general.

I have been walking on the treadmill, but the view in my basement is no match for the Connecticut countryside. And, although I’ve read some terrific professional books, they can’t compare to having a conversation with my friend.

Watching my cat this morning made me think of a student I saw skipping in the hallway the other day. Like every school, we have rules about walking in the hallways, so I really should have reminded her to walk. But I didn’t. Instead, I marveled at the joy her steps contained. Who knows what ideas were unlocked as she traipsed back to her classroom.

What Thoreau knew 150 years ago, and my skipping friend knows instinctively, science now has plenty of research to support. Entering “impact of physical activity on learning” into Google Scholar yielded 67,500 results in .15 seconds. A standard Google search turned up 27,000,000 results in .47 seconds. Reports like this one from SPARK, an organization devoted to combating childhood obesity are full of findings that support a link between physical activity and improved academic achievement.

Maybe we shouldn’t all start skipping in the hallways, but we should incorporate movement into our classrooms and get our students moving whenever possible. Who knows where our legs, and our thoughts, will take us.

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

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8 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Let’s Take a Walk

  1. I love walks, too. They get my brain moving. I teach gifted students and they rarely stay seated. Their brains are always on as well as their bodies. I should incorporate a walk outside every once in a while to help get the wiggles out and perhaps lead to more ideas for writing. I hope you can get outside soon.

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  2. I especially appreciated your comment about the skipping child. Is there anything more beautiful – pure joy. Great reminder of what might have been percolating in her little mind. Brain breaks and movement really help our kids to reset and refresh. Thanks for the reminder.

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  3. I’ve been missing my walks, too, Catherine. Today was a bit warmer than before, and I was able to get out and ramble a bit with my dog Sophie. We didn’t have the kind of conversations you and Colette do, but I was able to listen to a couple of fascinating pod casts. Spring can’t come soon enough, right?!

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  4. This slice has so much for me to think about. I connect with your love of walking and hashing out the world’s problems. And you are so right about movement in the classroom. I hope you can have your Ct. countryside walks back soon.

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  5. I love the image of a child happy enough at school to skip in the hallway. We could list some good reasons for walking, but I don’t think they could really outweigh the value of that joyful moment.

    One of my best memories of my daughter as a little girl was one day when we paused at a fountain on our church grounds which had a wide circle of bricks and several benches surrounding it. As she skipped around the circle, the church bells began to ring. It was a shining moment in the middle of an ordinary day, so full of joy.

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  6. I love that you didn’t tell that young girl to stop skipping. Maybe we should all skip a bit in the hallways when it’s too cold outside? Funny to imagine, though. I see so many wonderful things when I walk, and don’t have a friend to do it with, yet still it opens me up. You’ve described the wonder of it. Hope you get out soon, Catherine!

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  7. Oh, I can just imagine your walks with Colette. So wish I could come along and listen in. Exercise for your head and your body! I get my best ideas when I’m exercising and I often think of my kiddos in this regard. Love this thought: “Who knows where our legs, and our thoughts, will take us.” Got to keep that in mind in our crowded classroom and rule-filled hallways!

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  8. So sad that you haven’t been able to get out and walk. It’s a great activity, especially when done with friends. When I walk by myself, time crawls and it feels like exercise. With a friend, the miles melt away while we laugh and solve world problems too. Here’s to spring’s arrival and better weather for walking.

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