Walk With Me…taking stock

It has been a month since Walk With Me ended with the final group of 20 teachers in Athens, Greece.

Three countries – Peru, Chile, Greece – over 350 teachers and potentially over 11.000 student. The numbers are impressive and what is even more so is how similar our challenges are across cultures and languages, ages and mentalities and how effective movement is for learning for all ages regardless of apparent differences.

The project used tools from the Brain Gym method to support primarily the students’ abilities of focus, concentration, attention, comprehension and participation/action. It included a few tools to support organization skills as well as writing and reading. However, the primary focus has been concentration.

The target group were public primary school teachers, although there was a number of kindergarten and high school teachers that participated.

As a general rule, implementation was easier for those in kindergarten and primary school, something that supports the premise that early intervention is easier and most important. The students were eager and happy to get up and move and after the first week they were themselves asking for the use of movement in their classes.

The results, based on the feedback we got from the questionnaires circulated 1, 3 and 6 months since the teachers first learned and implemented those tools are heartwarming and so very encouraging, although we only have limited answers from Greece since it has only been a month since the end of the final training.

An initial, pre-implementation questionnaire was used as a starting point of reference. It was comprised of 6 questions.

  • Time spent for class discipline.
  • Openness of students to new learning.
  • Reading difficulties.
  • Writing difficulties (ease of writing, flow, expression)
  • Sense of purpose
  • Feeling of making a difference in the students’ lives (for the teachers.)

The first month questionnaire was comprised of the initial 3 questions on time management, reading and writing ease and included two questions on the use of the movements from the teachers in their personal lives and the main changes they noticed in themselves.

The third month questionnaire posed the question of greater openness of the students to new learning, noticeable changes in the students’ posture, changes in reading and writing, focus abilities, clarity of expression in essay writing, awareness from the students themselves on their own positive changes and how Brain Gym movements were supporting them.

The questionnaire of the sixth month focused on any increase of the students’ self-confidence and optimism in achieving their goals, a shift in the ability of the students to take responsibility for their own learning, any change in how they managed their emotions and any improvement on how the students cooperated between them. It also came back to the question of purpose and fulfilment of the teachers at their work.

In the following graphs, you are able to see the changes per area of interest:

Concentration 85%
Comprehension 80%
Participation/Action 58%
Clarity of expression 62%
Reading 35%
Writing 35%
Self confidence 42%
Openness in new learning 47%
Time spent in class management 78%
Sense of purpose and fulfilment: (teachers) 69%
Less stress: (teachers) 87%

Although (being a certified and experienced Brain Gym Instructor and wanting to teach movements that did not require special equipment) I used Brain Gym tools during the Walk With Me project, my aim was to highlight the importance of movement for learning. ANY movement is bound to have a positive effect on the students’ capacity for learning. Once movement is part of our everyday school tools one can start asking which movements yield the “best” results. First, however, we need to move, ourselves and our students.

It has been an enlightening, beautiful, challenging, changing journey. I can only hope that the knowledge and tools shared will continue to grow roots and support more and more students to discover the joy of learning with curiosity, a moving body and an open mind and heart. I have the utmost respect for the incredible power and chance teachers have in changing the future of our societies by teaching students how to take responsibility for their own growth and learning. Teaching by example is such a powerful thing.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.