What wearing a fitbit taught me about teaching

Cross-posted from: erringness in perfection class
Originally published: 06.02.15

I started wearing a Fitbit fitness tracker so I could log my running progress more easily, but wearing it all day, I started to notice a pattern: on days when I teach, I walk miles further than on days when I don’t. Digging deeper into the data, I found that I am never sedentary during my classes: my activity level always registers as light or moderate, even if I am facilitating a (mostly) seated discussion. How does that work? I suppose running up to the white board to illustrate a point or spell out a word explains a good deal of it.

For a while now, my efforts to engage students as whole people have included awareness of the body, thanks in part to the influence of bell hooks. I teach my writing classes (both composition and creative–yes, labeling the distinction that way is problematic) hand yoga; when students start drifting off when they should  be writing or reading, I encourage them to move—however they can and wish to (barring ways that impinge on other students’ rights)—instead of falling asleep. Moving into different groups, or into different classroom arrangements for different classroom arrangements also helps keep the energy levels up. These kinds of activities, however, are a little different from what my fitness tracker is recording.
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