Wednesday, September 12, 2012

E90X - Give your Best & Forget the Rest

My wife bought me P90X for Christmas this year and I have never been in better shape in my life. For those of you who have used the system, it is grueling to say the least. In order to get results, you have to commit to the daily regiment, diet and finally the understanding that improvement is small but steady if you commit. What is amazing about the program is that is it catered to those of us who presently struggle with our health.  It is designed to take us where we are in our physical health and bring us to where we want to be. 

In education it is no different, in order to be in the best intellectual shape that we can be in, we have to commit to a daily regiment of exercise in our practice and diet which is learning new things.  We have to challenge ourselves to push through the pain of the hard work in education and take time to fill our brains with healthy information and interactions.  Today's post doesn't focus on us as educators, but on how we can make our students commit to our E90X program.  Do we create the conditions for all learners to give their best and forget the rest?  Are our students intrinsically motivated by their learning environment to push themselves through the pain to reach their goal?  In order to transform our classrooms into E90X learning facilities for every learner, here are some important P90X concepts that should be considered if you want to lock every student into their learning.

Set a Goal

For every exercise, Tony Horton asks everyone to set a goal before they start the exercise.  How many times do we start an activity or lesson without making kids set a goal.  If we want to maximize our lesson (exercise), we must set a goal in our mind of where we want to be at the end of the lesson and what we want the kids to learn from the lesson.  We should aim for a level of understanding that we want them to develop from the lesson, but we shouldn't stop there.  We should challenge students to set a goal for where they want to be at the end of the activity.  Setting goals is the beginning of getting results and learning must have goals if we want to maximize results.

Quality over Quantity

Good form is the key to maximum results and Tony Horton harps on this thought throughout the program.  Do we as educators focus more on quality or quantity in our activities and lessons?  I truly believe that if we focus on quantity in the lesson, students will develop bad habits and gaps in their learning.  It is much better for a student to spend 10 minutes on one given task or problem and develop a deeper understanding than it is for the same student to rush through 20 problems at a surface level and have no idea what he just did or why its important.  If we choose to make our focus on developing good quality in our learning, quantity will not be far behind.  Students should know that quality of learning is more important than quantity as well.

Pain is what Makes Us Stronger

In the strength exercises, choosing the right weight and burning through the last 3 reps is what gets results.  Learning is very similar in that learning exists in situations where kids don't know all the answers.  It is where kids struggle in making meaning.  Pushing through the pain is hard and where lots of kids give up.  As their coach, you must coach them through the pain that is associated with learning and when they get through the pain, you must celebrate like you just won the lottery.  Pain is where we push ourselves to a place we have never been.  It hurts, but the results are worth it.  In the E90X classroom, pain and struggle are a normal part of the learning process, and kids can enjoy the exploration involved in the struggle if we make our environment safe.

Chart Your Progress

Every time I do an exercise, I chart my progress on a P90X worksheet.  The first day that I had to write my results down, I was, needless to say, humbled.  After 6 months of doing the program and several times of doing each exercise, I am blown away by how far I have come and that energizes me and takes my mind away from my current limitations.  As educators, we must provide opportunities for students to chart their progress as well.  RtI requires us to chart progress, but it is no benefit to kids if they do not chart their own results.  A suggestion would be to chart progress on individual skills that develop over time rather than grades.  Grades are subjective and don't tell the whole story about learning.  If students own their results and their progress, commitment to your E90X learning program will increase dramatically.


Keep Pushing Play

At the end of the 1st DVD, Chest and Back, Tony Horton reminds us that growth is gradual and at times difficult.  He tells us to keep showing up, continue to press play and never give up.  After 6 months of doing the program, I have to admit that it was and still is difficult, but I keep showing up, keep pressing play and never giving up.  As educators, the kids keep showing up because they have to, but do we inspire them to keep pressing the play button and never giving up each time they enter the classroom?  I believe that we must do our best to send that message every day.  It is not our words but our actions that inspire students to keep pressing play and never giving up.  It is our relationships and commitment to them that inspires and motivates students to come back mentally every day. In other words, we must keep pushing play in showing our commitment to them so they will commit to the E90X program.

Give Your Best and Forget the Rest

This phrase is said over and over through out the program.  To me it is the most important thought because my physical improvement is mine and can't be compared to anyone else in the world.  Like many people, I have been intimidated by others who are in better shape than myself, and that fear often stiffled my desire to improve.  I couldn't lift as much, run as fast or perform as well as them so why should I try?  Our classrooms must permeate with the P90X mantra of 'Give Your Best and Forget the Rest'.  There's only one you, and to be your best you have to forget about everyone else in the room.  Educators can't allow the students to feel inferior because they are slower than others in learning.  Learning, just like exercise, is a personal activity, and so there is no room for competition.  To find out if your room meets the criteria as an E90X classroom, gauge the commitment to learning in your kids that struggle the most.  If they are excited, engaged, determined to learn, and most importantly are not phased by the students that are ahead of them, your room is an E90X learning facility.

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