How to Integrate Yoga and Mindfulness in the Classroom: Part 2
Investing Time to Save Time
Methodology: Gradual Release of Responsibility
There is not a single elementary teacher that feels they have enough time in the day to comfortably add more. I completely understand that feeling. There is pressure to cram a lot in, testing scores on the line, often behavioral challenges as well as special needs to give attention to, continuing education, initiatives that must be incorporated into the school day.
So Why On Earth Add Another Thing?
The answer may surprise you. By investing in mindfulness, self-care, SEL (social-emotional learning) via explicit learning, you will experience the dividends as your students improve their self-management, decision-making, and social awareness, to name a few.
If that all sounds too good to be true, then you haven’t met my friend and colleague, Nicole, or as the kids know her, “Miss T.” Miss T. is a first-grade teacher in an inclusive public school classroom. She dedicated 5-15 minutes per day using the gradual release of responsibility, with most of the time investment on the front end of the school year, resulting in a total transformation in her classroom. The kids went from having no tools to cope with strong emotions and distraction, and little concept of their inner or outer world, to develop a depth of self-control, self-concept, self-esteem, improved decision-making, and self-serving, attentional practices.
Compared to the other students in the same grade, they had a completely different experience in the classroom, in hallways transitions, and in interpersonal conflict. They were able to resolve conflict, become aware of themselves in space, correct energetic issues by calming or energizing, name emotions and where they live in the body, and much more.
In September, her students had a limited vocabulary and tools. They required explicit instruction daily. In October they received some explicit instruction and were also encouraged to fill in the blanks, try out teaching each other, and practice skills by themselves in myriad ways. By January the same students could go to the peace corner to work out disputes or help themselves without any additional support for. The scaffolded approach helped them be able to support themselves and their peers over time.
In September, Miss T. did explicit instruction, teaching every single concept out loud, using visuals, with lots of support. By November, the students were leading the practices for the class unassisted, and by January, they were serving themselves and helping their peers during crisis moments.
During professional development workshops, Nicole and I compiled tools and resources she could use with the students. All of these can now be found on our new portal for yoga entrepreneurs, Flow and Grow Your Business. This will be open to the public this winter, but at this time is only available to graduates of the Flow and Grow Kids Yoga teacher training.
The peace corner Miss T created consisted of simple visuals, breathing balls, chimes, and yoga cards and books.