On Saturday March 24th, area educators had the opportunity to learn about using yoga and mindfulness in their classrooms from Lisa Flynn Founder and CEO of Yoga 4 Classrooms. RiseVT sponsored the 6-hour workshop for educators in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.
Throughout the workshop, Flynn stories about why she started teaching yoga and her perspective on why teaching young students to be mindful is crucial. She defined being mindful as being present, being aware of what is happening now, without judgment.
Flynn said she started this program after seeing an “increasing number of students across the country lack the skills of self-regulation, impulse control and focus which can affect behavior, ability to learn and overall wellbeing.” Her belief is that “sharing yoga and mindfulness techniques, specifically designed for the time and space crunched classroom, is a convenient, engaging and effective way to promote these skills while cultivating a positive, peaceful productive classroom climate.”
During this workshop teachers were given a teacher’s guide and Yoga 4 Classrooms deck of cards. This deck includes 67 yoga and mindfulness-based activities, categorized and specially designed to be easy to implement into a busy and demanding curriculum based schedule.
When teachers asked how to make time to include this in the day, Flynn replied that with the correct mindset and a little repetition teachers will soon be asking “how did I not have time for this before?” Morning meetings, transitions between activities and subjects, before a test, during community events or celebrations, or any time someone might need to reactivate and reengage are times to pull out the deck of cards and practice self-awareness, she added.
“The greatest opportunity for implantation is by practicing yourself,” said Flynn. “Maybe you just had a tough phone call and your students are coming back from recess. Briefly explain how you as the teacher are feeling ‘I have a knot in my stomach, could we do some breathing exercise to refocus ourselves before moving into math?’ What you will find is the students are thrilled to help be a solution to making you feel better. By including the students into the decision to participate, you are helping to build community within your classroom.”
A kindergarten teacher expressed some frustration and resistance some children might have with sitting them down to ‘just breathe.’ Lisa explained the best tool is to get your body involved by adding movement.
During the training, Flynn walked through several of the cards demonstrating how easy it is to implement, consistently asking the educators to notice how they were feeling while participating in the mindfulness activity and providing many additional tools educators could walk away from the day with. At the end of the day Flynn asked educators if they felt they were ready to implement on Monday. Every single person in the room raised their hands.
It was common to hear teachers talking amongst themselves throughout the day thinking outside of the box on how they could implement the tools in their classroom, and school. Several wish to continue on with mindfulness trainings.
By, Rachel Narkewicz RiseVT Promotions Specialist