The Stamina Conundrum
By Jane Montero, Creekside Intermediate School, Dexter, Michigan
OATK12 Team Leader
Posted on October 31, 2021
At the end of our first full week back in school, one thing was perfectly clear: students had lost their stamina. It was as if students had forgotten how to “be” students in the classroom. I watched many of them get up out of their seats, wander around the room without any real direction, stop and chat about whatever with anyone nearby… all the while, seemingly oblivious to completing their projects. As I observed this new way of being, I realized it might be a direct consequence of being virtual for the majority of last year. Zooming from home, students could turn off their video, take breaks whenever they wanted, wander around their house and grab a snack at any time. Classroom structure did not exist. So now, here we are back in school with clearly defined structures in place, yet students still act like they are at home.
Left: 5th grade student blends watercolor paint.
In Shawn Achor’s bestselling book, The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life, he stated, “The most successful people adopt a mindset that not only makes their workdays more bearable, but also helps them work longer, harder, and faster than their negative mindset peers” (2010, p.71). How do we help students increase their stamina in order to work longer? How do we support careful work instead of hurried messes? How do we promote a growth mindset? Perhaps student engagement can be related to how we structure our teaching.
Top Left: Students at Creekside Intermediate School mindfully painting. Bottom Left: 5th grade student painting inside of organic shapes. Right: Student making careful choices with watercolors.
When we provide opportunities for students to take mini- breaks, stretch their arms and legs, wiggle their fingers and toes, we might start to build persistence which leads to stamina. Think marathon running instead of a 50-yard dash. Model positive feedback, self-talk, and patience. When we show students how to “be” in a classroom every single day, chances are the stamina puzzle might be resolved.
Here are a few more stamina increasing tips: