When I talk to teachers in multiple disciplines, a common frustration is time and the need to race through the curriculum in order to meet the demands of the curriculum or the complexity of the standards. The fast paced world can create stress and general imbalance in the classroom for both students and teachers.
In order to work through the blockage that can occur in an anxious and stressful environment, it is necessary to provide time for students to process as well as time for them to get up and move.
I often suggest that teachers schedule processing time. This may feel like an add-on to an already overcrowded schedule, but the outcome can actually add time. Students that are able to process not only internalize the concepts be taught, they can begin to think beyond the constraints of a packed curriculum. Processing time also helps to lower stress avoiding students from shutting down possibly reducing the number of minutes needed to reteach or address behavioral concerns.
To further reduce stress and activate the brain, students can be given the opportunity to process while moving. A simple way for students to do so is to have them get up and walk in the classroom. I was in a classroom a couple of weeks ago and the teacher mentioned how she set arrows up in the classroom for students to follow. Students can process and walk in the direction of the circles, or students can walk and process following a specific path. The goal is for them to think. Engaging them in movement while thinking helps as the connections in the brain begin to form.
Once students return to their seats, they can continue to process verbally in pairs, small groups, and/or in a whole-class setting. Again, initially this process takes time, but the payoff is beneficial for all, teachers and students.