Re thinking Stamina – being clear

Allisonstam•i•na1 (ˈstæm ə nə)      n.      strength or power to endure fatigue, stress

stamina1      n     enduring energy, strength, and resilience

Earlier this year I wrote about stamina and my worry that my students were not building stamina.  It was really me that was developing the power to endure fatigue.   I am not sure I can say I was building enduring energy and strength.  I had just reached the endure fatigue side of this word.  I could keep them sitting quietly “reading” for longer periods of time.

This week my fears were confirmed that indeed some of them, in fact many of them, have not built the strength to stay with or endure for long periods of time with books or writing.   We have finished most of our testing and I am returning to our regular teaching and learning routines.   The ability to sit and read for an extended time was lost for many of my students.  We are beginning again to build stamina.

I watched my niece this weekend complete the Ironman race in Utah.   She has stamina with a capital S!   What is it that focuses a person to swim, bike and run for 70 plus miles.  She had an intense desire to prove to herself that this was something she could do.

How to I share that intense desire and focus with my students?   They struggle to stay focused during a mini lesson in class.  I know that swimming, biking and running are physical and for some that is easier that the cerebral skills of reading and writing.   Yet, I think the desire must be much the same.

As I write I think the key word is not stamina but is desire.    What needs to be built in my students is not the stamina but the intense desire to read.  Like my niece and others, including scholars it is the desire that leads us to our goal.   It is this desire to complete a race, learn something or share ideas in writing that then helps stay with a task over an extended period of time.

Once again my thinking brings me back to the idea of  learning for a purpose – a desire to read, a need to read,  a desire to know about the world around them.  The development of the desire to step into other worlds – real or fiction.

Writing also follows –  we learn to write when we have something to share.   The more I blog the better my writing becomes  (well at least I hope so).  I have the desire to share my thoughts and ideas with others and so I work at it.  I ask questions, ask other to preview my writing and continue to post my thoughts.  I am building stamina because I have a desire to share.

Key lesson:  as a teacher I need to create the intense desire in my students to want to learn about the world through books and the intense desire to want to share that information in some form of writing with others.     I think stamina will be built on its own when desire happens.

This is a very different teaching process – leading students towards the desire to read instead of helping students build stamina for reading.   I think the stamina will follow naturally and easily as their skills improve through the desire to learn more.

Tell me what are your thoughts on stamina  and/or desire to learn?

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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