Thoughts during a short run about teaching in the long run

Every Saturday, after a long week at work, I face the mental challenge of whether to drag myself out of my lovely cozy bed to run around the park . I take part in event called parkrun , which is an organised 5k run that anyone can do .

As I  was running last week , I started to think about teaching and particularly  how children might experience lessons . I was thinking a lot about maths lessons for various reasons .

So here is what went though my mind:

I start off the run full of enthusiasm and manage to keep up a pace with most of the other runners. This last for about 40 metres. As I  realise  I need to slow down , the rest of them seem to effortlessly  continue on .

A child in a lesson could feel like that I suppose .Recently , I was communicating with a parent about her child and she was worried he was losing his enthusiasm for maths  . He was used to being top of the class, but now there were others  who were quicker and more mentally agile.I thought about that child as I ran because  as I slipped back  from the leaders it didn’t bother me .

Why ? well I had never been at the top , I am fairly new to this running lark and I only do it once a week , whereas others are pro runners who “live running”. The challenges and the  mental argument I have whilst attempting the course is with myself – not the others .I want to improve my pb  and the only way I can do that is by practising . I am in control of whether or not I get better .

But what of that child who must surely be disappointed  to have lost his position at the top of the rankings? I need to help that child realise that he has great potential and that  with hard work , he can  progress. He needs to  be able to  see that progress in a lesson or over a longer period of time .I need to  teach him how to do that  . If he gives up he will be out of the race.

Running around the park, I observe that  there are a number of fantastic volunteers  who keep us on the right course, clap or cheer encouragement ( very important especially after the agonising hilly part-which you do twice!) . They don’t run the race for me . They don’t  take the hills away . They don’t even hand out water  or oranges.  But that smile and acknowledgement  , that knowing look and “well done” or “keep it up” as I stagger past them  makes me think of my role in the classroom .

I want my children to feel the challenge  in a lesson .But  I recognise that a kind word of encouragement and an acknowledgement of the effort they are putting in , can really boost that child’s  stamina during a lesson . The encouragement doesn’t just have to come from me . The other parkrunners  cheer on  each other . Many stay and clap as the final competitor makes it through the funnel. As I make my way up the final stretch , runners who managed the course in half the time are walking back to their cars and they  still have time for a “nearly there” or a ” keep going” . Having a bunch of people who are all doing the same thing , whatever their level  is really great to be part of . I want my children to learn to encourage each other in much the same way . A shared  responsibility to not just pack up and leave  before the final runner has made it . We are all in this together so lets help each other out .

A few hours after I have finished the race  I get a text and it tells me the time I have achieved this week . I get really excited to receive it and it comes with a “well done!” and if I have  beaten my PB  it tells me so . I can go into a chart that tells me all my past times and how well I am doing compared to others . That feedback is pretty quick and seeing my name  go up the rankings or just seeing a new pb next to my name , puts a smile on my face . If I don’t make it , guess what? I make it my aim to beat it next time.

Well if you are a teacher reading this , I don’t need to spell out that one . Feedback works .

So those were my thoughts that went through my head as I ran last week . I did get a pb !

This morning I got up and did it all over again.


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