Since I started running 2 years ago, I have constantly looked for ways to share this running “idiocracy” with all those around me. I have forced many of my closest friends and family members to lace up their shoes and hit the trails with me for an early morning jaunt. I have challenged coworkers to meet me after school and even offered to train them for local 5ks. I worked for weeks with a buddy from church to get him ready for the running requirement for boot camp. I was an assistant coach for a girls running club that we started at our school. Hopefully the boys running club is soon to follow! But my most proud running accomplishment does not actually have to do with real running. Let me explain.
As you may have figured from the above, I am a school teacher. I LOVE every second of my job. My 3rd graders are some of the brightest kids ever, regardless of what the state tests and national polls say. One of the duties of every teacher is to instill a love of reading in every child. This is a daunting task for me. I hated to read as a kid, and it is even harder for me as an adult. I have never been officially diagnosed, but there are definitely some attention deficit disorders going on in my lumpy gray matter. I know all too well the struggles that I have as a grown up that are a direct result of my lack luster approach to reading. To help my students avoid this adulthood calamity, I strive to build my students’ love for reading early on. I offer incentives, sing praises, and write encouraging notes for every reading accomplishment that takes place in my classroom. If you are still reading, I am sure you are wondering how in the world did this dude get to be a guest blogger here on the IRC website. He is a rambling idiot… I have a point… Keep reading.
This year, my classroom reading incentive program is 100% running based. The program is called “Running Readers.” The students’ goals are correlated to different running distances with different prizes for each distance achieved. The goal for each student is to run a reading “marathon.” When they achieve this goal they receive a real medal, a water bottle, they stand on the winner’s podium (a chair) and give an award acceptance speech, and they get to go show their medal off to the principal. It is a HUGE deal! I then hang their picture in the hallway for all of the school to celebrate their accomplishment. There is nothing quite like it when they reach this goal! The excitement is equal to the moment when I crossed that marathon line for the first time. The kids feel such a sense of accomplishment. Their hard work and steady persistence towards the goal earns them greatness in the class. Their pride bursts out of them like steam spewing from Old Faithful!
To keep track of their progress, each student has a paper foot with their name on it posted on a classroom bulletin board. Every Friday we move the feet along from dangling shoe strings and celebrate even the smallest gains. The students move from 1 mile to 5k, 10k, half marathon and full. I absolutely LOVE that they are familiar with the running terminology. Believe it or not, it has even gotten a couple of them into “real” running. J.P. tells me weekly about his running at home. He once even won his age division at a local “fun” run. To keep this awesome program “running,” PUN INTENDED, I am currently looking for creative ways to get more medals and water bottles for next year on my limited teacher salary. Let me know if you guys have any great ideas!
Thanks for the opportunity to share this blog today. I hope that the thought of my kids working hard to achieve their goals inspired you to work hard for yours! I will leave you with this quote… “If I go through life without leaving a mark, for what did I live?”