The Common Core State Standards provide benchmarks for learning by grade level, K-12. Teachers understandably like to have some level of freedom in how they deliver subject matter to students as their creativity and improvisation have the ability to heighten motivation to learn. Many teachers these days are finding the balance between meeting Common Core State Standards and bringing their unique teaching skills into the classroom. In simple terms, it seems to me that this balance is between structure and organic free flow. As we so often know, moment-to-moment balance between structure and play is key for classroom success both academically and socially speaking. We teachers strive again and again to hone our teaching proficiency by reviewing the day’s events in the classroom, weighing what appeared to help and what appeared to hamper students’ participation and subject matter comprehension. Refreshing our perspective is very much a necessity to learn and grow as an educator, to bring the dignity of teaching forward and the enthusiasm to learn alive.
I created the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training as a new tool to gather the whole classroom of learners on equal ground with everyone’s equal participation and equal value to the group. Likewise, each member of the class learns the responsibility to contribute constructively and respectively to the overall harmony with peers and the teacher. Bringing secular yoga into public school classrooms in 2002 (the year I began the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness program) was definitely a new and creative experience for myself, students and teachers. Over these last 15 years, I have paid careful and close attention to the needs and concerns of teachers and their commitment to successfully impart learning to students. I have fine-tuned SCHOOL Kids Yoga to make sense to Common Core State Standards while engaging classroom communities with new tools and in innovative ways.
One way School Kids Yoga & Mindfulness supports the Common Core State Standards is by teaching aspects of English Language Arts, including Speaking and Listening standards such as the following:
ELA SL 1.1A – Follow agreed upon rules for discussion
ELA SL 1.1B – Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to thecomments of others through multiple exchanges
ELA SL 1.1C – Ask questions for clarification
ELA SL 1.2 – Ask and answer questions about key details in information presented orally
ELA SL 1.3 – Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says
ELA SL 1.4 – Describe people, places, things, and events with detail
ELA SL 1.5 – Add visual displays to descriptions to clarify ideas
ELA SL 1.6 – Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task
Los Angeles Unified School District teachers who have taken the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training have commented on how they experience SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness as aligned with CCSS:
“In general, the standards are supported by the SCHOOL Kids Yoga practice by allowing tools for listening to peers, teacher, and constructive critique. It helps introduce academic and social skills vocabulary, make connections to stories, life experiences, and learning to speak with pace, expression, and intonation. In addition, students learn metacognition, developing memory, self-reflection, perseverance, and determination through focus and grounding.” – Mary G.
“School Kids Yoga supports the Common Core Standards by meeting state health and physical education requirements. In addition, the SCHOOL Kids Yoga methods address ELA standards for speaking and listening (e.g., applying rules for discussion, building on discussion, and asking and answering questions to clarify, ascertain key details, gather additional information, and provide descriptive detail). Furthermore, SCHOOL Kids Yoga supports learning of academic content through the use of models, verbal and visual aids.” – Vivian Z.
“School Kids Yoga supports the Common Core by providing opportunities to listen and discuss various topics respectfully. Through the program, students practice and learn skill such as listening attentively to a speaker or story, reflecting on information, and practicing how to ask thoughtful or clarifying questions. They are able to respond to questions and use strategies to discuss or share opinions with peers. The SCHOOL Kids Yoga program also supports overall academic success by teaching students how to calm their bodies, minds, and hearts to reduce anxiety during testing or presentations, as well as improving their ability to focus and retain information for longer periods of time, which promotes academic success.” – Vanessa G
I created the SCHOOL Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Training to give teachers tools to not only improve focus in students and teach Common Core State Standards, but also to provide a means for teachers to gather themselves in the moment and refresh perspective. We teachers know the importance of maintaining grace and equilibrium – so often challenged in our diverse interactions with students. When teachers have practical tools to ground and gather themselves within the dynamic waves of energy and experience in the classroom setting, they are better able to find the balance between teaching the benchmarks of the Common Core Standards with a fresh perspective that invites their creativity and enthusiasm. Naturally, students pick-up on a teacher’s warm engagement and thus, are drawn in to learn more. And this ability to navigate amidst our routines and the unknowns of life bring acalm sensibility that needs to be nurtured in our classrooms and communities throughout life.