Necessary change in our schools; working on prevention of violence and hatred in our youth
Instead of writing a normal type blog this week, I have decided to post the key steps to a
non-profit organization (yogaforourlives) that I’m currently working on in order to
introduce yoga/mindfulness and moving meditation into our school curriculum at a young
age. I am now in the process of building the yogaforourlives.org, which will be dedicated
to this project. As of now, the website includes a pretty long mission statement outlining
the details of the project, purposes, and explaining the reasons why I wanted to initiate
this project. Feel free to review this statement, email me with questions, comments, or
suggestions. For this week, I just wanted to breakdown the ten steps that are necessary to
implement this curriculum (also included on the site) as a summary of the cause and the
work that will be needed to develop a lasting change in our childrens curriculum and on
district policy for resolving behavioural problems or helping children with emotional
and/or developmental difficulties in a supportive, preventative, and lasting way.
Steps Crucial to Implementing a Yoga/Mindfulness Curriculum into Elementary Schools
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
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.