For the past fourteen years, before and after school, I have taught a class called Girls on the Run to children in grades three through six. It is a self-esteem program for girls, in which participants learn life skills through interactive lessons and running games. The kids – young as they are – train to run a 5K (3 mile) race at the end of the season, and the race is an absolutely joyful event. Parents usually run with the kids to cheer them on, and the girls beam with pride and happiness as they cross the finish line. I love teaching this program!
I began teaching Girls on the Run when my own daughter was in third grade, rather on a lark, as I thought we could share the activity for a season. We would play together after school – I as the coach, she as a student. I liked the program so much, that I led it again when she was in fourth grade, and then onward after she was too old for my initial group. Somehow, “way leads on to way” and now, my daughter is an adult, a music teacher, and I am rooted in the community as the local GOTR coach, still leading lessons and cheering for every student as she engages in the discussions, plays in the educational games, and jogs around the field.
One of the things I appreciate about Girls on the Run is how playful the lessons are and how physically active the kids can be. When kids get restless, I can have them run (and most of them chat with their friends as they go) and then we can resume the lessons. It is such a wonderful break and outlet for their energy. In all of this time, I haven’t had discipline problems. I wish I could say the same of the students seated in my English classroom!
Also, I enjoy being outdoors to teach, and I like talking about issues related to self-respect and respecting others. The program is a great match for my own interests. Plus, I love to run.
There are many challenges to being a teacher, but sometimes, the stars are aligned, and I feel the joy of seeing students become stronger — intellectually, emotionally, and physically. In Girls on the Run, changes happen relatively fast, and I feel very fortunate to be a guide and a witness to the girls’ progress.
“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” ― Albert Einstein