Steps Crucial to Implementing a Yoga/Mindfulness Curriculum into Elementary Schools K-6
1). Reviewing Massachusets physical education requirements in addition to it’s most recently updated (1999) Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework.
2). Recognizing the little amount of required physical education in addition to the ambiguity and vague framework and standards outlined in the latest curriculum.
3). Using this information and building a much more practical set of standards that adhere to the current state standards but are more easily accessible (not in a 101 page document) to the general population of educators with limited time and resources.
4). Developing a curriculum based on a one year calendar and on physical education (PE) classes to meet 2X/week for at least 45 minute sessions. Schools will be held accountable to scheduling these PE sessions.
5). Bringing awareness to school districts as well as any school interested to the yogaforourlives curriculum through advertisement, reaching out to local school principals, and communities. Bringing attention to the yogaforourlives website where individuals can learn more about the organizations mission, gain resources for implementing yoga and mindfulness outside of PE classes and in the general classroom including in ELA, math, science, and history lesson plans in addition to using behavioural techniques outlined on videos on the website or offered in workshops that may be more effective at not just stopping inappropriate or dangerous behavior, but in teaching students skills to behave differently. It is time to focus attention on not just stopping or eliminating dangerous behaviors in the moment, but in providing a foundation of skills and soothing techniques to deescalate anger and hatred working on preventing future dangerous and disruptive behaviors.
6). Holding a series of workshops throughout Berkshire County in order to maximize district attendance to introduce physical education teachers to the curriculum and yogaforourlives manual, answer any questions and be available to districts for questions on implementing the programs or obstacles that may arise. The yogaforourlives manual is a program implemented through physical education classes following the standards outined for the health curriculum for Massachusetts last updated in 1999. However, other teachers interested in learning more about yoga and mindfulness techniques for behavioral issues in addition to aligning common core standards with lesson plans involving yoga and mindfulness are invited to attend the workshops. The manual will include appendices with suggestions on how to use yoga/mindfulness/movement in other subjects especially those that must align with the common core standards. The evidence that yoga, mindfulness, and movement has been shown to increase academic focus, behavior within a classroom setting, and academic performance, will be used to outline sample lesson ideas for other subjects. Because there is so much to learn and teachers already have limited time and resources, the ideas from the workshops, the manual itself (to be printed by the district and handed to the PE teacher or others interested), along with videos describing behavioural implementations that target students with behavioural or emotional disturbances whether the child has an IEP, diagnosed psychological disorder, or tends to act out, will ideally be on the yogaforourlives.org website and accessible to districts.
7). Creating a network in which teachers in school districts can freely ask questions about the curriculum. There will be mentors well versed in the curriculum who will be available via e-mail or in an online forum setting to answer questions or concerns that arise while implementing the curriculum. This may ideally include live question and answer sessions where teachers can log-in to the online forum.
8). In order to best implement such a large program, visits from the organization and professionals trained in the curriculum, yoga, mindfulness, and children, will be conducted 3-4 times a year. In addition to visits, the PE teachers implementing the program from districts will be required to email the organization director once a week with feedback on what has worked well that week in the program, what hasn’t, in addition to questions on what to do given certain situations. Teachers adopting the curriculum will always have email access to the organization director to reach out with questions, concerns, or problems related to the curriculum or behavioral techniques.
9). Moving the curriculum and spreading it outside of Berkshire County to include more regions in Massachusetts through adding on branches of yogaforourlives around the state.
10). Looking into developing and implementing a curriculum for older students in grades 7-12 and working through the same steps 1-9 to institute changes for this age group.