Monday, July 16, 2012

How Zumba Will Help My Students

It's a well known fact among my real life friends that I'm just a little bit uncoordinated. And by "little bit" I mean that my mom has always jokingly called me Grace, and the list of seemingly impossible injuries (like running into a bench on a track and getting 10 stitches) could fill up a page of notebook paper. With all my natural clumsiness it's kind of amazing that I enjoy and am, at least in my mind, pretty good at Zumba.

For those of you who've never seen or heard of Zumba, it's a Latin dance based cardio workout. My favorite instructors remind everybody that the point of Zumba is to get moving and having fun. We aren't supposed to look like the instructor or like each other. While every class and instructor is a little bit different, Zumba looks something like this:

So you might be wondering how Zumba is going to help my students besides giving me the stamina to keep up with them!

One of the things I have noticed is that many Zumba instructors attend other instructors' classes. I haven't researched to see if this is actually a requirement for new instructors to get certified, but I see it just about every single week. Imagine if teachers, new or veteran, had the opportunity to go and not only observe but participate in other teachers' classes! What could we learn from each other? What kinds of suggestions could we make to help each other better meet our students' needs? What little things would we notice about the kids that would help our colleagues build better relationships with their students? Really, the possibilities to this kind of learning are endless. I need to figure out a way to make this work for me during the upcoming school year.

That isn't the only thing from tonight's class that will help my students. This evening one of those new instructors was participating in class. He, yes HE - very few male instructors in this area, was an enthusiastic participant, and I'm looking forward to going to one of his classes. After class I ended up in one of those awkward "I'm walking one direction, he's walking in the other and we end up in the same spot" situations with him. As we started to move around each other he looked me in the eye and said, "Hey - great job tonight!" I had never talked to him prior to this moment, but he took just a second to acknowledge my hard work in class and give me a compliment.

His positive comment has stuck with me all night long. It reinforced my feelings of enjoyment and confidence, and it made me more interested in attending one of his classes. How often do we teachers take every opportunity we can to compliment our students, to point out the positive effort they are putting into a task or the the positive choices they are making? Even if it is a priority for you, I bet we could find even more opportunities to positively support our students. And if four little words can make such a big impact on a 38 year old, imagine what those four little words could do for a 7, 9 or 13 year old!

So how will Zumba help my students? Tonight it reminded me that my coworkers are great learning resources, and it reminded me that I need to catch my students "doing good" as often as possible.


Nancy C said...

Hi Becky,
Love how you connect Zumba to your classroom. Just goes to show that we can learn something and apply it to a new situation. Isn't that what we want our students to do as well.

Last year I felt like I kept to myself in my own building yet a I was constantly sharing on Twitter. Your post has inspired me to get out of my classroom and to invite others in - my administrator was always asking us to visit our peers and we never really capitalized on that - this year will be different.

Just those three words "Great Job Tonight" made you feel validated. We need to make sure that we are saying those words directly to our students on a daily basis...even if they are not quite getting the concepts - the idea of putting forth care and effort in their work should be recognized.

Thanks Becky for inspiring and sharing.

Lani said...

This post resonates with me so much--- the alignment of what you've experienced in Zumba and what could occur in teaching is perfect!

Your thoughts on validation strike me as so important and reminded me of a video a Connected Coach shared in the last eCourse section-- likely you've seen it?

Best wishes,

Karen Amador said...

Hi Becky,
Thanks for calling to mind something I was reminded of by my Zumba adventures. I was definitely having to learn something new in every class, and it was very difficult for me. When I was able to relax and not worry about doing everything exactly like the instructor, knowing that I was still getting a Lot of exercise, things went much better. I really felt for students who struggle with much of what they are expected to do in school and then have to be graded.... Well I try to put myself in their shoes and be encouraging and scaffold as much as possible to facilitate achievement of our grade level goals, but there is always the lovely STAAR test looming ahead (and the benchmarks leading up) so these poor guys never feel like they measure up. How discouraging! Anyway, thanks for the post. It certainly got me thinking and I haven't even had my second cup of coffee yet:)

Becky Bair said...

Nancy, I agree with you about participating online and not so much in real life. I've been thinking a lot about this. I know that it doesn't matter how much I learn online and do in my classroom, unless those of us who are passionate about changing education start getting the word out in our buildings that change will never happen. This year I definitely have a goal to help spread the change positively in my building.

Lani, as always, thank you so much for adding to the conversation. I haven't seen this video, but I'm looking forward to watching it again and sharing with others!

Karen, you bring up another wonderful point about class. If your classes are the same as ours, we often get new songs. It is so frustrating for me when I can't do the new one. As you mentioned, relaxing and not worrying about being perfect is a huge step. Another important piece is the practice. The more you do the songs, the better you get, and the more fun you have! It is hard for those kids when they continually "don't get it" or don't measure up, but I think that's where the importance of our validation comes into play. I tell my kids often that I know getting the right score is a challenge, but I expect them to get one point closer each time they give it a try.

Thanks to all three of you for adding to the conversation. Hopefully others will chime in with their connections!

PNaugle said...

Hi Becky,
I had to read this because of the title. Great hook by the way. I am glad you reminded us how important validation can be. (Yes, I love the video Lani.) As Angela Maiers says, we all need to tell those around us #youmatter.

I wish others at my school would be more open to collaboration. I am constantly inviting others in to participate when I'm doing Skype calls so that they can see how I use it to connect and share with others. I am still the only teacher in my building who is on Twitter, uses Skype, blogs, etc. Each year as school starts I am optimistic that others will join me.

I will keep in mind this post as I return to my school this year.

Becky Bair said...

Hi Paula,

I'm glad the title caught your eye and got you into the conversation.

I have the same wish as you do. There are a few at my school who are as active as I am, but we probably make up about 5% of the faculty. I'm hoping that continuing to share blog posts and things I learn will encourage others to join in.

Unfortunately we have some very loud voices against teachers doing anything outside the school day. I'm going to try and make my voice louder, and more respectful, to help people see that these are the steps we need to take for our kids to be successful.

Thanks for joining the conversation!