If you are just now coming across my blog, I have not lost my mind. These are my thoughts from Spinning Class – a new endeavor that is forcing me back into shape. Ask the dog about what happened…
Anyways, in a spin class, I’m that kid. The one in the back of the room smiling obliviously at you completely unable to keep up. Right now, I represent the student who reads below grade level, struggles with organizational skills, and can’t pay attention. I’m not disruptive. I put my best effort into everything. It’s just that I don’t process as quickly and lack some cognitive development. In spin class, this may be the first time that I’ve become that kid.
During my first few weeks of spinning, new terminology swirled around me – 2nd, 3rd, butter-back – but I was unable to process their meaning (possibly due to afore-mentioned oxygen deprivation) as I struggled to pedal for an entire hour. However, now that I can pay attention, and see what the instructor is modeling, the words are starting to make sense. In fact, the most amazing thing happened last week when riding on my own: I started to transfer the language of class to my own workout.
Watch What You Say
As teachers, we use big words. We throw around terms like thesis statement, transition sentence, distributive property, questioning strategy, but do we use them consistently such that our students can apply them in multiple situations? Do we model them, provide them in multiple outputs, and incorporate them into activities with a goal of the students accepting them as part of their own vocabulary? Last week, when pushing myself through an interval workout on a stationary bike, I heard my spin instructor’s words in my head: keep it at 80%, go to 2nd, butter-back. As I pushed through my workout, I realized that I had started to become fluent in this new language.
Today, as I wheezed through an uphill climb in class, our instructor said, “push through it! Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.”
This may sound painfully obvious; however, I dare you to try to do this when your legs are screaming for relief. However, instead of having a no kidding moment, I actually heard a different instructor echo in my head. I needed to think about pressure breathing – a technique that I learned for high altitude climbing. Different term, similar definition, same impact – transfer.
So I ask this question: do we watch what we say? As teachers, do we use consistent language and demonstrate the meaning of that language in multiple ways? Do we model the use of that language and encourage the students to take ownership of the vocabulary? In other words, do we help our students to realize that they need a butter back while pushing themselves up an imaginary hill in a desperate attempt to race to the top.