“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” — William Arthur Ward

My new session of classes begins tomorrow. I have been giving my teaching style and class planning a lot of thought lately. My last session had two classes that were challenging. I have been evaluating what I did and what I can do this time to make class time more positive for all, including me.

My desire to teach was inspired by my own yoga journey. Through yoga I found out a lot about myself in ways nothing else was able to do. I was always athletic and involved in sports but it was yoga that lead me down a mental and physical path that has allowed me to navigate my life more positively. That is why I teach. I want to give to my students—at their very young ages—tools that will help them live life knowing themselves well and show them how to work with life’s inevitable discomforts.

I did not feel as though I was effectively teaching those skills last session. There were multiple reasons. Some of the kids did not want to be in class. They were sent to yoga because a sibling was going or because a parent was interested in working out for those 45 minutes. I found that the negative attitudes that came through the door each week from a few students turned the whole class around.

Another reason my class dynamic shifted was that I found myself catering to the high energy needs of a few instead of creating an environment where these kids were challenged to meet my higher expectations. I relied more on yoga games and movement without balancing the class with the hows or whys of the poses and how yoga can be applied to their lives.

My plan this session is to teach and connect and if there is time for a game at the end we will play. I realize that my classes still consist of children and children learn by playing. However this time class will begin quietly with discussion and reflection before moving on to movement. We will concentrate on fewer poses but will really learn the hows and whys behind them and how they apply to life. I have created a checklist that has a number of poses, divided into groups of pose benefits, that I will teach and check off for the kids once they have demonstrated their understanding of the pose.

In teaching this way, I am hoping that by the time the kids enter my 8-11 year old classes they will have enough of an understanding of yoga to begin more work on vinyasa, more discussion on alignment and deeper reflection on how to apply the lessons learned on their mats.

Most studios allow teens to take adult classes. My classes will be building blocks toward taking classes in their teens and onward.

I fear that this all sounds so obvious. However, my training emphasized a lot of play and storytelling and fun. I believe that those elements can be used within a tighter curriculum of expected learning.

I am excited to begin to teach more and continue to learn more from my kids this session. I’ll be keeping you all posted with my trials and tribulations.

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