During the last week of July, Starfish received some special visitors! Representatives from Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) spent an entire week sharing professional development training with the Starfish Impact School educators. GALS is an all-girls charter school in Denver, Colorado, that is built on the idea of movement in educational settings. Based on scientific research that proves an intrinsic connection between the brain and the body, and the belief that young women in particular can benefit from this science, GALS catalyzes the highest potential of each of its students by integrating physical movement into its classrooms. Using movement in the GALS academic setting promotes physical wellness, optimizes the learning potential of its students, and makes the classroom even more fun! The objective of the GALS trip was to pass knowledge along to Starfish Impact School educators so new Girl Pioneers will have the opportunity to experience this same empowering learning environment.
As part of their visit to Guatemala and Starfish, the GALS team had the opportunity to learn about various Starfish programs by observing the educators in action at Escuela Estrellita in Sololá, holding meetings with program managers and Starfish leaders, and visiting the home of a Girl Pioneer. Understanding the context how Starfish works with Girl Pioneers and their families in Guatemala was critical to the development of the training for Starfish educators. With this background knowledge, GALS was able to anticipate and understand how our educators will be able to incorporate movement into their own lessons.
To start, the GALS and mpact School teams enjoyed a Zumba class together in Panajachel. After this intense workout and icebreaker in the gym, both groups were ready to get to work in the office! First, Starfish educators learned how and why movement in the classroom is beneficial and empowering for both students and teachers. Later, the training featured models of math and social studies classes that incorporated movement, and the educators had an opportunity to brainstorm how they envisioned using movement in their own classrooms.
The second part of the training included a beautiful hike from Panajachel to Buena Vista, a small community in the mountains. The hike was certainly a physical challenge, but it served as a strong bonding activity and wellness exercise for the teams! On the last day of training, GALS staff taught Starfish educators specific games and activities that can be applied to many academic subject areas. In order to reach their class objectives, the educators then worked together to create lesson plans that incorporated. They even began implementing the plans this past Sunday in mentorship and at Escuela Estrellita!
The Starfish team of educators is extremely excited about what they learned from GALS. Celestina, the Impact School’s mathematics teacher, shared, “Integrating movement into the classroom is really important to keep students active, and it isn’t very hard. It just has to be done with clear intentionality to be successful.” Alix Van Zandt, Starfish’s new director of curriculum and assessments, agrees, “The GALS training was a perfect example of how different methods of education can work together in any context, as long as those involved are willing to adapt and share.”
Thank you for the visit and the training, GALS team! We are all looking forward to applying what you have taught us in January at the Starfish Impact School!
“Movement = Active and energized minds!”
– Roselia, Starfish Impact School art teacher