Whether it has been days or decades since you set foot in a classroom, everyone remembers their favorite school teacher. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8 to May 12), we reached out to some all-star teachers in our FHIT community and caught up with them about their role in education and how getting their FHIX influences their teaching style. From familiarizing 4th and 5th graders with AMRAPs and EMOMs to emphasizing positive feedback, keep reading to learn more about the stellar teachers who are students in our own “classroom”.
1) Tell us about your current position and what inspired you to pursue a career in education?
Lauren: I teach third grade at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School. My inspiration to pursue a career in education came from my favorite elementary school teachers. My teachers truly believed in me and ultimately made me believe in myself.
Tony: I am the head of school at The Town School, a nursery through eighth grade independent school on East 76th Street. Inspired by several great teachers that I had in school, I originally got into education because I believed in the power of connection and relationship to help students learn and grow.
Michelle: I am a Speech Language Pathologist and currently work with school aged children with language based learning disabilities. I always wanted to work with and help children and was specifically drawn to my position as I get to work with children individually and in small groups. This allows me to forge personal and meaningful relationships with the students and really focus on their individual needs.
JoJo: I am a Physical Education teacher at The Dalton School where I teach Middle School and High School classes. Physical activity has always been an integral part of my life. Being connected at such a young age to the world of competitive basketball has shown me the benefits of exercise, healthy eating, training, teamwork and determination.
Jodi: I am currently a 3rd grade teacher at a private school on the Upper East Side. I have been teaching here since I moved to NYC in 2010. My mother is an educator and I always knew that I wanted to go into education. As a little girl, my favorite play date activity was playing “school” and I would always be the teacher to all my friends.
Kate: I teach 4th and 5th grade science at a private school in Manhattan. Learning has always been fun for me, but as a child I didn’t always feel challenged or inspired in school. Getting involved in education was a way that I might influence my students with inspiring and engaging learning experiences.
2) How has getting your FHIX influenced your work in the classroom? What do you want to teach your students about staying healthy?
Meredith: I had the pleasure of bringing my class on a field trip to the Fhitting Room to let them experience the great joy I get as a FHIXer (and student!). I have also incorporated some “movement” activities as a part of our daily schedule. We teach the children to fuel their bodies with proper nutrition, participate in many activities, get proper rest and to brush their teeth.
Jodi: My weekly FHIX has given me a sense of control and discipline in the classroom. I have instilled a warrior mentality in my students, teaching them to set goals for themselves and never give up on achieving them.
JoJo: I have integrated Fhitting Room’s fundamental skills into my middle and high school Physical Education classes at The Dalton School. In my 4th grade and 5th grade classes I have incorporated Partner A and Partner B workouts. Tabata, AMRAP, burpees, air squats and plank walks are all terms and exercises that my kids are really familiar with. The FHITpros have helped me be more creative in my classroom.
Lauren: The strong community established at Fhitting Room has made me think more deeply about my classroom community. During my weekly FHIXes, community plays a significant role with my performance in class. Community is equally as important in the classroom. We are each other’s motivators and support systems.
First and most importantly, my students need to know that healthy is defined differently by everyone. Once they’ve established what healthy means to them, they can own it!
I model what healthy means to me on a daily basis. They hear me share my workout schedules and fitness goals. I’m seen walking up and down 500 stairs a day (yes, really) with a smile. We sit together at lunch and they watch what choices I make and the reasoning behind them. Healthy is a balancing act and a work in progress.
Tony: Daily exercise provides some sense of balance in my busy schedule. There is no better feeling than having completed a challenging FHIX and having those burpees behind me! Research has shown that physical activity is critical to brain development and to living a healthy life beyond school. Hopefully, I can be an example to students by my personal commitment to daily exercise, whether it be a class at the Fhitting Room, a challenging bike ride, or just a long walk in Central Park with my dog Aphrodite.
Michelle: Firstly, it gives me the strength and energy I need throughout the day! It also helps me maintain a patient and positive energy that is crucial to every child’s learning environment. We are constantly talking about keeping our bodies strong, energized and healthy with the students. We are transparent with our teaching and explicitly explain to the students what helps them stay focused to learn and absorb information. We highlight the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and often make celebratory announcements to the class when students bring in and choose to eat their healthy snacks. We also talk about how healthy food such as fruits, vegetables and protein give our body and brain the energy it needs to learn.
Kate: Fhitting Room is such an intense and stimulating workout, I tend to hate the first 5 minutes of my body warming to it and then suddenly things shift, I love hitting that turning point. If I’ve created lessons that evoke the same type of focused engagement I maintain when working out at Fhitting Room, then it’s certainly a success. My students should walk across the stage at year-end believing they can solve tough problems and feeling empowered to pursue their curiosities and passions in life. Staying healthy with exercise, clean eating, drinking plenty of water and getting sound sleep will enable them to maintain their focus and stamina while learning.
3) As someone with plenty of experience leading a classroom, is there anything you have learned about teaching from our FHITpros? How does it feel to spend time as a student again while working out in the studio?
Kate: I love working out at Fhitting Room, as the workouts are never dull and the instructors are super positive! I am definitely inspired to “up” my own teaching game as a result of being FHIT.
Tony: Well, I can’t quite get away with Daury’s style of in-your-face “motivation,” but Fhitting Room trainers have some of the same qualities I look for in teachers: expertise, empathy, passion, flexibility and the ability to make personal connections.
Michelle: Though the work I do is highly differentiated for each individual child, getting “my FHIX” has helped me really focus on each child’s specific needs and to focus on their strengths to help them understand and master concepts and skills. Just like in a workout class if someone has an injury there is always another movement they can be doing to achieve the same goal, the same goes for my students. When they are struggling with an academic concept or linguistic skill it is my job to figure out a different way to teach it so they can understand it and master it to the best of their ability in a way that works for them. It has also highlighted the importance of ‘actions speak louder than words’. A pro can talk about a movement, but once they demo, that is when we truly understand it. The same applies for my students; it has reminded me to speak less and include more visual supports and activity to lessons. Lastly, I’ve learned the importance of organization and being prepared. Just as I expect a Fhitting room class to be well thought out and organized, I need to be entering my sessions and lessons the same way. It feels great to be a student! I love being able to sit back and have someone else prepare and tell me what to do!
Lauren: Each FHITpro has reaffirmed the importance of accepting and implementing feedback. Maybe it’s the teacher in me who appreciates feedback, but that’s how I grow. I wouldn’t be where I am today as a FHIXer without the FHITpros and their willingness to help me succeed.
Jodi: The FHITpros have taught me that consistency is the key to success. Spending time as a student again while working out in the studio has made me more aware of the importance of embracing my strengths and weaknesses and striving to achieve my best.
Meredith: I have taken away that constant praise and motivation is not only great for children but for adults as well, and as adults we often forget that we can’t always do things perfectly and like children we need to keep trying. I have also learned about individualized attention for everyone. Being a student reminds me of some of the difficulties all students face when trying something new or challenging and reinforces how determination can get your through to achieve your goal. A positive can-do attitude always helps as well as a simple smile or a “keep it up,” from the instructors. Simple praise goes a long way.
JoJo: What I learned from the FHITpros is the importance of team building, working hard and pushing yourself to the highest limits. Most importantly exercise should be FUN!!!! Being a student in class makes me realize the importance of good and fun instruction. There is nothing worse than an instructor who goes through the motions. Therefore, it’s my goal to create a classroom environment where the kids will be excited to walk through the door and not be able to wait until their next class with me.
4) Summer break is right around the corner! What do you plan on doing with this vacation and how will you work getting your regular FHIX into your summer schedule?
Jodi: I can’t wait to spend the summer with my husband, Jon and our one-year-old son, Beckett. I can utilize the strength and endurance I’ve obtained from Fhitting Room to keep up with Beckett’s energy!
Kate: I’ll be in Montana for most of my summer. I’ll need some pointers on what to do for workouts there, and I’ll be missing my local studio while away.
Meredith: The summer is a great time for me to work on my FHIXes, especially now that I commute from NJ. I will have more flexibility with my classes, and I schedule my private clients around my workouts.
Lauren: Believe it or not, I actually spend part of my summer break working at Hunter College Elementary School. It’s an opportunity for me to collaborate with new teachers and teach a different demographic of students. Typically, August is my down time. I’m usually at the beach, traveling and preparing for a new school year. I always find time and energy for the things I love. Scheduling FHIXes is easy for me year round because it’s something I look forward to booking. Except maybe those 31 birthday burpees coming for me this summer!
Tony: I am a fairly avid cyclist, so along with being away for some vacation, summer involves fewer FHIXes for me. On the other hand, with a little more time on my hands, I try to get downtown for classes on occasion, and this year I will surely hop on a CitiBike to the West Side studio as well.
Michelle: I will be seeing some kids privately for the beginning of the summer and definitely getting my FHIXes in as much as I can! I haven’t decided on an exact destination, but plan to travel in Europe for about two weeks at the end of the summer. It is always a challenge to work out on vacation since I tend to eat and drink a lot more! When I am out of the country, I usually create different 5-10 minute workouts and do them a few times a week. I usually convince a friend to get in on the workout too, which always makes it more fun!
JoJo: Summertime is all about getting stronger, traveling and beach time in Provincetown. Most important is “Getting our Goats” which means it’s time to work on correcting my deficiencies. I live by these three quotes all my life: “live with passion”, “go hard or go home” and “strength and perseverance will get you through”.