Human beings, like all species, are very physically oriented. Up to 70% of the brain is devoted to movement and operating in a complex environment. So it comes as no surprise that research in the latest Behaviour and Brain Functions journal that adding movement to rehearsal can improve performance.
Whilst the study does look at high jumpers, the thinking is scalable to many other fields. It can point to the importance of dry runs for developing skills. Dry runs are done in many fields before big events but how often are they performed and timed into student learning? This is one of the structures I talk about with teachers in their planning.
However, it also can be related to the performance of boys. Most teachers know that boys like to move. They fidget, they move around, they slouch, they get distracted, they are active all the time. If we took a time lapse video of a class of boys you would see the ballet of movement they exhibit. Yet this can impact the perception of teachers about the ability of boys to learn. Masterful teachers take into account the physicality of boys in their learning. Yet there is increasing evidence that there is an underlying unconscious bias of teachers that centres around differences in behaviour and learning between boys and girls.
This is an issue close to my heart as I saw my son's performance at school slow down after two years of being in a graduate teacher's class who was not keyed into what he needed for his learning. We realised it in hindsight and when he started high school this year we made sure he went to a boys college who has the mission of developing young men and they realise the importance of movement and self control. We are at the beginning of the journey of bringing my son's self-belief back up and partnering his school by giving him structures and strategies to approach his learning. It is challenging.
My point is, whether you have boys or girls in your class, what structures and systematic approaches are you using to develop skills and to allow for performance? Are you consistent with them? Are they embedded in the way the students operate in their learning? We have found that the more intentional you are about embedding these strategies and structures into the learning environment, the more powerful the learning experiences.