Episode #224: Michael Jennings

Dana GoodierOut of the Trenches Podcast

Michael Jennings has spent over a decade teaching & coaching at nearly every level. He has been a physical education teacher, strengtathlos.org/healthy-body & conditioning coach, football coach, youth athletic development trainer, and now program director for PE & character. He is passionate about the powerful role that movement, physical activity, & sport play in the holistic development of young people. He is dedicated to showing that PE, physical activity & sport build strong foundations in our youth!

Trenches story: early on in career, taught at HS first year. Mostly in weight room. Had a successful year, was voted ToY. Got called into principal’s office, there were budget cuts, was displaced. They couldn’t guarantee where he’s been able to go. Was placed @ MS level. Was pretty resentful 1st yr. Was no longer coaching @ HS. Didn’t let colleagues in. Over time, realized it shouldn’t affect the kids. Learned to love MS. Would want to be in MS again. Got close w/ co-workers. P.E. dept was recognized as Blue Ribbon dept. Testament to the power of mindset- embraced where he was. Didn’t let the situation dictate him.

Talk about the Athos Academies program you’re affiliated with, you write their blog posts: he’s pretty much an open book. Left CR in 2019. Taught 6-12 PE & health. His role is very unique, wears diff. hats for some of the sister companies- they all work in tandem. It makes it easier for him. They send him out of the do PD. He does pseudo-admin for a charter school network. Overseas 3 of the academic pillars for charter school model. Resource development, co-teaching, curriculum development. Overseas Althos character development program as well. Sells products for schools who aren’t necessarily in business of starting a school (yet). Even for intl. schools. Gets word out through breakout sessions, blog posts. Wants to help ppl grow and be better. He asks schools what they offer for character development & movement breaks. For many it’s not the case.

break out Session: The best educational tool you never knew you had: (some notes)

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Coined in book “Spark”-like a miracle grow for the brain. It’s a brain transmitter that is secreted during physical activity. Physical activity is the best way of preventing Alzheimer’s and to help youth & adults learn. The more fit a person is, the better they tend to do in cardiovascular tests. He’s focusing on the academic benefits of physical activity. Executive functioning. Now there’s a lot of SEL talk but we need to address on-task behavior. If kids are active before the lesson, there will be a decrease in off-task behaviors. BDNF promotes neurotransmitter connections. Exercise spurs BDNF pathway to solidify our learning. This has a direct play on lowered anxiety levels. Can act like med. As effective as an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant. If giving an information-dense session, have students move a bit before (jumping jacks, squats). IT’s become a passion of his.

How to present this to a school board or launch a task force in district? in his last school- 15 m after intervention period, they’d put in 15 m of physical activity. First, try the movement breaks in your own CR. Second, find/gather/reference research. He can share resources. You have “Arrows in the quiver” you can give as responses. They need to know WHY. Gather colleagues who are doing the same things. Approach admin with the stance “I want to find ways to give my students more success”. Building out task forces in charter school network. Can give quick survey- 6 teachers, give them a survey of movement breaks- they can take the survey and ask how on task students are, how much time you spend on behavior, positive energy, compare the #’s. Has been working hard to implement. Don’t need a lot of permission to implement.

For t’s for teach core subjects– how they can incorporate movement into the CR? What happens to the kids? Ask yourself, do they really grasp the content? 45 m class period, a lot of off-task behaviors. Instead, you can right the ship by saying “this is when we get our movement in”. Play game of silent ball, other brain break. Go after the early adopters, low hanging fruit. Pick it early. It becomes adult peer pressure.

Could highlight blog post, possibly one he’s drafting up right now. It’s geared towards going to a conf (getting out of your silo). CR t’s can get a lot out of talking to P.E. t’s. Can glean a lot from one another. Edu in general needs to do a better job of getting out of silos. Too many stereotypes. There’s a lot more commonalities, consistency across subjects than we think. Are we really moving the needle that way?

Out of everything? Movement throughout the day is beneficial to you as a professional. They’re not taking away from instructional time. Movement has still an instructional purpose. Click To Tweet

Where can ppl find you online? www.amac.athlos.org access Athlos program, free program for teachers, coaches, etc. @Athlosmac @theschmike on Twitter. View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/2EwKp_MzgeQ


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