Teachers' Experiences Implementing a School Wellness Initiative in Anchorage, AK: A Qualitative Study.

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report
Length: 481 words

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Keywords School lunch; Physical activity; Lunch period length; Classroom teachers; Qualitative research Abstract Background Teachers are uniquely poised to support students' healthy eating habits and physical activity. However, research is needed to examine the successes and challenges teachers face when implementing a school wellness initiative. The purpose of this study was to examine teachers' experiences implementing and managing a pilot school wellness initiative where students had longer lunch and recess, and more physical activity throughout the day. Statistical analysis Using a grounded theory approach, transcripts were analyzed qualitatively using principles of content analysis to identify themes and domains. Application of the codes and interrater reliability were conducted with a trained research assistant. Methods Focus groups were conducted to understand the challenging and successful experiences of teachers as they implemented and managed a school wellness initiative. The participants were teachers (N = 39) from six purposively selected elementary schools participating in a school wellness initiative. Focus groups were conducted in-person at participating schools. Results Teachers observed calmer students who ate more lunch with longer lunch periods. In addition, teachers observed improved focus in the classroom and fewer behavior issues with more physical activity opportunities. Successful strategies included reversing lunch and recess and implementing physical activity into daily lessons. However, some teachers had difficulty managing the extra time in the cafeteria and scheduling physical activity throughout the day, particularly in schools where administrators were not as supportive of the initiative. In the schools with greater administrative buy-in and support, teachers had easier, more positive experiences implementing the wellness initiative. Conclusions School wellness initiatives in which teachers play a large role have the potential to support teachers and students. This study found that teachers value student health and understand students need to be nourished to learn, but teachers' experiences suggest they need support and buy-in from their administrators to be successful. Author Affiliation: (1) Department of Public Health and Nutrition, School of Health Sciences, Merrimack College, North Andover, Massachusetts (2) Program in Nutrition, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York (3) Anchorage School District, Anchorage, Alaska (4) Institute of Social and Economic Research, Anchorage School District, Anchorage, Alaska (5) Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (6) Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts * Address correspondence to: Deborah A. Olarte, PhD, RD, Merrimack College, School of Health Sciences, 315 Turnpike St, North Andover, MA 01845. Article History: Received 21 July 2021; Accepted 6 December 2021 (footnote) Supplementary materials: is available at www.jandonline.org(http://www.jandonline.org) (footnote) STATEMENT OF POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. (footnote) FUNDING/SUPPORT This study was funded by a Provost Innovation Award from Merrimack College. Byline: Deborah A. Olarte, PhD, RDN [olarted@merrimack.edu] (1,2,*), Mark Stock, PhD (3), Melanie Sutton (4), Michael Scott (3), Pamela A. Koch, EdD, RD (2), Sarah Gustus, MS (1,5), Juliana F.W. Cohen, ScM, ScD (1,6)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A704126107