Let me back up. Last semester I went to West Ave every Monday and Wednesday from 3:15 to about 4:30 with the intention of teaching yoga. Every Monday and Wednesday it looked like someone fired a gun in a hen house and then locked me in there. Kids.screaming.running.hitting.flipping and the one little girl at the front listening attentively and mastering her down dog. This class was organized by the after school program director and she and I tried every kind of positive rewards, consequences, pep talks, stern talks, three strikes your out, and then some tactics that we could think of. Every Monday and Wednesday I could pretty much laugh it off and keep trying, I'm pretty patient, kids are wild, whatever. But after over a month away, it didn't seem exciting to go back.
So I determined to do more research, to make changes, to MAKE.IT.WORK. I did some googling and found this:
(Update: I deleted the video b/c I was sick of it starting automatically and scaring the pants off me.)
Inspiration! I decided to go up to the school a little early to talk to the director and formulate a new plan. Here are the four small miracles that followed:
1) I show up and she immediately says "Oh Caitlin! I'm so glad you're back, the kids made you this for Christmas and have been dying to give it you!"
It is a precious work of art made by melting crayons across a canvas. But it's not about the artistic ability. It's about being greeted with a token of appreciation. I didn't expect it and I would've kept teaching without it, but it sure was nice to receive.
2) We get into our conversation about making the class better and I tell her I think we really need mats. I tell her I've been brainstorming fundraising ideas and she says, "hold on, I just got an email from a church group that wants to know if they can do a fundraiser for us!" What the what? Mats are a done deal.
3) We decided to have a "meeting" today; one with the older grades and a separate one with the younger grades to talk about yoga this semester and how it's going to be a club that they can sign up for (with a lot more explanation). I explain what yoga is supposed to be, why we want to have this club, and then give them the chance to ask questions and clarify. One little boy raises his hand to say "I want to sign up for yoga because it helps you relax!" Done. You're in and I love you.
4) Finally, as I gently say something like, "if you know that after school is not the time for you to try to sit still and you'd rather run laps around Ms. Sullivan then maybe yoga is not the club for you" the wildest, craziest, grab every marker, throw every tennis ball, pull everyone's hair, scream for no reason, precious little girl says, "I don't think yoga is for me." Couldn't have said it better myself little one. You're out and I love you.