Teaching is Modeling.

As educators, we will hold a position of power and influence in our classrooms; the ways we (inter)act, live, and move in our world will become a model for our students of how to do the same. This is an amazing and dangerous responsibility, and a source of incredible power that should not be taken lightly. We must be self-reflective, self-analytical, self-critical; only then can we start to determine if we are truly using our power to build healthy students, classrooms, schools, communities. We must also be willing to reform, and in some cases completely transform, our modes of being; otherwise, this project of self is not even worth taking on in the first place. We must always work with the mindset that we are incomplete, imperfect, and improvable.
In regards to health education, we can model healthy living in many forms. We can showcase conditions of healthy relationships, dialogue, eating habits, problem solving, behaviors, choices. The way we nourish our bodies and minds, and the nourishments we send back into our environment (in the form of words, actions, reactions, mindsets), will have the potential to radically shape and shift these systems of nourishment for our students as well. We become a source nourishment for them; we also teach them how to nourish themselves, and others.
Keeping a food/activity journal has been a great strategy for elevating habits in my eating and fitness that have otherwise gone unrecognized (at least to myself). By collecting detailed data about all of the physical nourishment that enters my body, patterns of unhealthy consumption can no longer remain unconscious. I thought I ate more vegetables; I thought I hiked more frequently; I thought I consumed enough protein and calcium. My journal uncovered these myths. By setting goals towards better health, I therefore consciously acknowledge emerging barriers to my own health and become accountable to the project of re-imagining my choices, habits, actions. The journal made me (at least temporarily) an active participant in my decision-making around my overall consumption of food and participation in physical activity, as opposed to the passive navigator of everyday food and fitness decisions that I was before. Can this active involvement and awareness be sustained without maintaining the focused energy required of a food/activity journal?
While a food/activity journal is useful for identifying our own individual (un)healthy habits, and can be used as an interdisciplinary tool for our students to do the same, this alone will not create healthy classrooms. How can we expand this idea of the food/activity journal to record and reflect on other forms of nourishment that we put into our bodies and minds? To collect detailed data in our classrooms regarding our teaching practice, education processes, student engagements, learning experiences? The food/activity journal is like an in-depth research project of the energy inputs/outputs of our individual bodies. If we were to translate this model into an in-depth research project of the energy inputs/outputs of our collective classroom/community bodies, what would our data look/feel like?


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