NHMS Georgia Shape School of the Month

North Hall Middle School in Gainesville, Georgia is taking steps to build student-teacher relationships through physical activity!

North Hall Middle School began Power Up for 30 in the fall of 2016 when it was selected to participate in the middle school pilot program. Power Up for 30 was initially developed for elementary schools to add 30 minutes or more of physical activity before, during and after the school day. In an effort to reach older grade level students, Georgia Shape, along with their training partner, HealthMPowers, began a pilot program with seven metro-Atlanta middle schools to adapt the Power Up for 30 Elementary School curriculum and resources for the middle school population.

North Hall Middle School felt that Power Up for 30 was a perfect fit for the direction they wanted to move their students, along with the Hall County Schools Four Cornerstone Initiative which began at the start of the school year. One of the Four Cornerstones includes the importance of building relationships between students and teachers. North Hall wanted to utilize Power Up for 30 opportunities to use physical activity and movement to build relationships between teachers, students and the community.

With support from the administration, teachers have implemented movement breaks in the classroom to boost activity levels and lower stress for both teachers and students. Dances such as the Chicken Dance, Macarena and “Just Dance” are provided to give students time to be active and silly in the classroom, helping them feel more comfortable.

Students are enjoying time away from their desks when they can have fun with their peers.

“I look forward to our daily twenty-minute movement breaks,” said student Kevin Rochester. “We dance, play games, or go outside and walk. It is a good way to get our energy out.”

Evelyn Forrester, another NHMS student, shared that it is one of the highlights of her school day. Students are now requesting these breaks—and realize that they need it to stay focused and re-energize.

Teachers have also seen a positive benefit in incorporating movement breaks into the learning process.

“Using Power Up for 30 has been a great way to encourage my students to ask questions,” said Jay Ferrell, seventh-grade teacher. “My quiet students are often hesitant to answer questions, but after dancing and being silly, I have noticed that they are more open to group discussions, learning and engaging in the learning process.”

Amy Davis, seventh-grade math teacher, also noted that the time has allowed teachers to get to know their students better: “You see a side of the student you do not get to see when they are quietly sitting in a desk.”

Since becoming a Power Up for 30 school, faculty members have also incorporated movement breaks into Professional Learning Community meetings.

Along with movement breaks, North Hall Middle School offers additional opportunities for students to engage in physical activity as part of Power Up for 30. A “Morning Mile” program where students can walk laps around the gym is now offered for any student who arrives to school early. Trojan Support Time, which offers makeup or help sessions once a week, also allows students to get an extra 45 minutes of physical activity into their day. Nearby trail walks on the first Thursday of every month are organized to encourage students, parents, guardians and the community, to come together to encourage relationship-building. Finally, seasonal school walk-run events keep students excited and engaged in physical activity throughout the year.

NEWS FEATURE SOURCE:  Georgia Shape Website:  www.georgiashape.org