Seldom do students and teachers practice gratitude and self-analysis like in our Latinos in Action...
You can only really appreciate your journey at the end; looking back at your progress from the high vantage of a lofty goal gives you a greater appreciation of skills acquired, heights reached, and what you can accomplish going forward. It’s a concept that East Bay Post High Teacher Christine Yaccarino is intimately familiar with, as are her students after finishing their classwide step-tracking challenge.
East Bay Post High is a school dedicated to assisting students with additional needs transition to adulthood by providing experiences in post-secondary education, vocational training, independent living skills, community access, and connecting students with adult services and agencies.
As part of that journey, Yaccarino thought outside the box– and outside of the school– to start the year off on the right foot. Yaccarino’s class started a yearlong step-tracking challenge.
Students downloaded an app to collect steps, and Christine Yaccarino kept an Excel spreadsheet, diligently keeping tabs and pushing her students to get out and walk around the community.
Yaccarino’s students started tracking steps earlier this year, setting a lofty goal of ten million.
Steps were taken as of last week? More than thirteen million steps as a class.
To be exact, thirteen million six hundred twenty-three thousand three hundred seventy-seven steps.
Miles walked collectively: five thousand, six hundred and seventy-six—more miles than Utah to Spain.
The student’s team task of gathering steps has several clear benefits, including better cardiovascular health and overall mood. But, as Yaccarino and her students pointed out, stepping out of the classroom has many hidden benefits, too.
During their statistical breakdown, students could rattle off their step statistics, add and subtract values, and quickly find the place values of large numbers.
The lesson had the benefit of teaching daily math through a practical task: students added steps, subtracted totals from goals, and divided the class goal to set personal goals. Students counted backward from ones, tens, thousands, ten-thousands, up into the billions, demonstrating keen proficiency in finding numeric place values.
Just as importantly, students are building up some essential work-life skills.
“Why do you think taking steps might be important for life after school?” Yaccarino asked.
“I need stamina for work,” one student answered.
“We’ll need to walk. Sometimes longer than three hours,” said another student, mentioning their current requirements at their part-time job.
“That’s right,” Yaccarino said. “Most entry-level positions ask you to stand the whole time. You’re going to be moving and on your feet.”
Another student in their wheelchair used the time learning to navigate crosswalks and sidewalks, familiarizing themselves with their neighborhood.
“Navigating the community is a big part of the EBPH goal,” Yaccarino said.
“The more they can get out around their neighborhood, the better.”
Several students are starting jobs in the summer; one began work at the Missionary Training Center, and another is soon to start a job with BYU Laundry — those that didn’t are applying to positions now.
The assignment has changed not only Yaccarino’s student’s life, but her life, too.
“The lesson inspired me. I’m getting off the couch more often to take steps whenever I’m free. I’m even competing with my kids to get steps now. I’ll get out and start walking, even in the rain. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy.”
It’s a life habit with lifelong benefits. To an outsider, tracking steps might seem a small, incremental step towards bettering your life– but that’s how you make significant changes—one step at a time.