What Works for Me: Walk and Talk

Posted: June 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

A practice I first learned about in my Master’s of Education program, the Walk and Talk is a fantastic way to think things through and work things out. As adults in the Master’s program, we did it to process information, get to know each other and brainstorm. Whenever I have the chance, I like to do this with students for precisely the same purposes.

From Walk and Talk: The new meeting room, there are a number of health benefits that strengthen the case for the Walk and Talk. Some are:

  • “Walking stimulates oxygen flow around the body to increase your brain function so you can be more creative and it also increases your ability to solve problems faster.
  • Being on the move allows the mind flexibility because you are looking around as you walk. This stimulates the right side of the brain and the visual sense gives a greater sense of perspective to a situation being discussed.
  • Breathing is improved (standing and walking – rather than slumped in a chair!), which again improves brain function and increases energy.”

“Walking is good for solving problems – it’s like the feet are little psychiatrists.” -Pepper Giardino

Although the Walk and Talk is beneficial for all students, I have found it especially helpful for the students who might be the hardest to reach. It has worked for kids who are having a breakdown, kids who seem to be having behavioral problems in class, and kids who don’t have the skills to deal with their emotions. When there is a behavioral problem or just a kid who is having a hard time being their best, it is so fantastic to take a minute and go for a quick walk together. So many things get figured out, kids calm down, and perspective is found by both of us. We also have that moment to share. Walking is a shared experience and I think it helps build the bond between two people.

During the last week of school, I saw one of my colleagues walking up and down the hall with one of her (perhaps toughest) students. Later she said that during the first couple minutes, they just walked in silence. Shortly thereafter they had the opportunity to have a calm discussion. This is precisely what I’ve seen work as well!

The problem? When she came back to her class, the remainder of the class had gotten a bit out of hand. I wish there was a way to have the walk-and-talk without forcing others to give some of their prep time to watch the class. Perhaps it needs to be a change in culture so the class knows that it is important to be especially good during that time (just as they might if the teacher were standing outside the door talking to the student by the locker), but in a world where one can’t even legally leave the classroom to go to the bathroom without having someone watch the class, I have a feeling that just “trusting the kids to be good” won’t be the answer.

“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow; Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead; Walk beside me, and just be my friend.” -Albert Camus

  1. […] The Language Lab ← What Works for Me: Walk and Talk […]

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