Saturday, December 13, 2014

Teacher as Personal Trainer

Sometimes I get on a kick where I vow I am going to get physically fit.  I'm going to exercise more I tell myself and off to the gym I go.  Every time I go, I use the same three machines.  I start on the elliptical, move to the tread mill and then finish on the bicycle.  The bicycle is boring for me.  I don't like it a bit, but I do it so I can get the final "calories burned" number I want.

My intentions to exercise are always good, but it isn't long before my interest fades.  Doing the same thing every day gets old.  I don't know how to use the other machines and honestly don't know which ones I should use for the results I want.  I'm all about that "calories burned" number anyway, but many fitness friends say that isn't enough.

I can't help but wonder if my workouts would be better if I had a personal trainer.  If I had someone to get me started, develop a plan, and help me when things get hard.  If I had someone who loved and believed in physical fitness enough for both of us.  If I had someone who could fix the little things I wasn't doing quite right or make changes as I needed them.

Teacher as Personal Trainer
Carolyn Carr talks with readers
during Reader's Workshop.
Today as I moved from room to room to support readers I couldn't help but think about how much a teacher is like a personal trainer.  As I watch students during independent times in their learning, I realize how important the teacher is in helping students to make choices that keep them learning.

Often we set up elaborate plans so we can work with small groups and provide individualized instruction, but these plans can take away from the time students need to read, write, and create.  If we believe students only learn when they are beside us, we are underestimating the power students have in their own learning.  What are students doing when they are not beside us?  Students spend a lot of time working independently, and the teacher as a personal trainer makes sure this time is valuable for students.

The teacher as a personal trainer (I'm new to creating an infographic and wanted to play with Piktochart.  #playtolearn):

Maybe teachers are more like personal trainers as they help learners find places to begin, develop a plan, set appropriate goals and help when things get hard.  Students feel our love for the books, writing, and thinking we share with them.  We sometimes have to believe enough for both of us.  We fix things when they are not quite right, and make changes for our learners.  We're in and out --- just enough.  Most of all, we believe...and our students amaze us every day.


  1. Cathy, I love your piktograph, exactly what we do at my school. Lots of independent work time enables students to reflect and refine-your blog title! We talk so much about process in class, how things work, what to do when they're not working as well as you wish, etc. That's the bottom line of learning: is there learning? Thanks for this reflection!

  2. Cathy~
    As I read your post I couldn't help but think how teachers need this same personal trainer. As you said (and illustrated in your infographic) "teachers believe and trust." Trust can be a difficult piece for teachers. My class is fortunate to have a personal trainer. Having you in our room for even 30 minutes a day help reassure what I believe in my teaching and trust in my kids. When teachers are in doubt it's easy to underestimate our trust and what we believe.
    Thanks for being our personal trainer!