by Lynn Hernandez, school principal and Certified Yoga Calm Youth Instructor
After attending Yoga Calm training last February I was so excited about the possibilities at my school for both students and staff. I knew that these mindful movement activities would help students develop self-confidence, self-regulation strategies and positive social and emotional skills. I was also aware that new professional development ideas could get lost a few weeks after the training because of classroom and school demands. As an administrator, I wanted to make sure that Yoga Calm activities had a chance to make a difference. Here are some things that I found to be successful in the implementation of Yoga Calm in the classroom:
- Commit to doing Yoga Calm daily: Establish a routine and make it part of your daily plan. If you make sure students are part of the plan, they’ll never let you forget or allow you to replace it. In our fourth grade, each student has a “classroom job.” Two Managers of Wellness lead the class in Yoga Calm routines each morning. One of our second grade teachers has students do the same routine each day after coming in from recess.
- Find a buddy: Ideally, you were able to attend training with someone else in your school. Continue to share ideas, routines, struggles, questions and celebrations. If you work in different grade levels, perhaps you can be “buddy classrooms” and get together to do routines/activities together. Each of our primary classrooms is paired with an intermediate class. Buddy rooms get together to teach each other their routines. If you attended training alone, share the information with a like-minded colleague. Invite them to be a part of the Yoga Calm experience.
- Invite other staff members to your classroom when you teach a Yoga Calm routine or social/emotional activity: The psychologist, social worker and special ed teachers who support struggling students can learn from you and may offer some additional ideas. Ask your principal to come in and observe. Not only can they offer direct support to students by incorporating some of the techniques you demonstrate, but they may also offer to send other staff members to training once they see the value of Yoga Calm in classroom/school behavior.
- Track data, like the increase in time students are able to attend to independent reading or writing. Or try doing routines regularly before any assessments, and gather data about test scores and student perceptions about how they felt before a test. Keep track of those students who begin to use Yoga Calm techniques independently when they know they need to take a break. Has the implementation of Yoga Calm in your classroom resulted in fewer students having to leave the room because of behavior issues? Track it, and prove it makes a difference
It’s up to us to create an environment where students can thrive. Yoga Calm empowers staff to get creative in building a calm, caring and thoughtful classroom community. By committing to its implementation, it can make a difference in student learning and emotional growth. Good luck as you continue the journey.
Lynn Hernandez has been an educator for over 20 years. For the past ten years she has been the principal of Diamond Path Elementary School of International Studies in Apple Valley, Minnesota. She attended Yoga Calm training in February 2013, and that June became a certified Yoga Calm Youth Instructor. In 2013, Lynn brought Kathy Flaminio, the Yoga Calm National Training Director, to present at her school. So far, thirteen staff members have attended training, and teachers and other staff throughout the building are regularly implementing the strategies they have learned.