For the past 10 weeks, I have been teaching an after-school yoga class for 11 1st and 2nd graders (and one Kinder). If you saw any of my notes on FB or my post about teaching yoga to super active kids, then you know that this was a class that challenged me in a way I never expected. At times, they were the true definition of "Wild Things," which you might think would make me love them all the more. But if I'm being really honest...for a while I felt a bit defeated with this group. I couldn't find the right routines or behavior management techniques, and sometimes I feared that the kids were not learning to love yoga, but rather learning to dread it. Over time, I changed some of my own routines and expectations - and things got better. Not perfect, but definitely better.
But despite the fact that the classes were going a bit better, I still struggled to connect with this group for whatever reason. Last Tuesday was our last class, and I was feeling a bit ambivalent about it. I was hoping for a great class to go out on, but I couldn't help feeling like it might be difficult. As it happened, earlier that day, I watched a video on gratitude for my Mindfulness in Education course. And as I was watching and listening, I suddenly realized how grateful I was to this crazy bunch of kids for teaching ME! I learned a lot about how to work with high-energy kids in a big group setting, how to be more flexible, how to engage more with hard-to-reach kids, and how to just let go of some of my own expectations. Once I thought about this, I got really excited about this last class! I set an intention to walk in feeling nothing but gratitude and openness to this group, and to just let go of my own agenda a little bit more.
What a difference it made to go into a classroom with an intention to be a grateful to a group of kids - and to keep that intention throughout. I found that I listened to both the kids - and my own internal voice - so much more. I recognized when kids needed space or a break more than I probably had before. I better appreciated the kids that hung back to observe or did their own thing during class. And I noticed that the kids actually seemed to be embracing and enjoying the class more than usual.
At the end, I surprisingly realized that I was sad to see the sessions end. Not only did I feel like I had finally built some sort of mutual foundation with the kids, I still felt like I had a lot to learn from them. But I am forever thankful that they helped continue to show me the kind of classes I want to lead and the kind of teacher I aspire to be.