AGC 1st Graders Lead Yoga at Irene Hernandez Middle School

18 Sep

Mr. Poggioli’s 1st grade class stumbled on a wonderful opportunity to share AGC’s approach and serve as advocates for health during a field trip last week. As part of their current unit of inquiry on “Our Cool School”- how our school operates and what makes it unique- they visited a neighborhood public school, Irene Hernandez Middle School, to examine their organizatinoal and educational approach. In a 6th grade math classroom they shared a little bit of what makes their school cool.

During a discussion of the similarities and difference in their respective classroom jobs, students Ava Katovich and Sam Kay mentioned they were currently serving as class Yogis.

Neither the teacher nor the 23 students in the class had practiced Yoga in school before they invited the 1st graders to lead them in some yoga poses. What followed was an entirely student-led, impromptu yoga session. 

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At the Academy for Global Citizenship, daily student-led yoga positively impacts student learning through behavior, health and responsibility.

PROMOTING POSITIVE BEHAVIOR

At AGC, students practice yoga to transition from the excitement of breakfast into a contemplative learning space. Yoga teaches students to be conscious of their energy levels and to practice calming poses when their excitement interferes with learning. Teachers use yoga poses to redirect individual student behavior and it is not uncommon for students to independently step away to calm themselves down in a moment of over-excitement, frustration or distractibility. In a study conducted with a similar student population in the western suburbs, discipline referrals went down 21% after implementing this kind of daily yoga. Numerous studies find that yoga increases ease in classroom management for both students and teacher and facilitates management of  stressors for both students and teachers.

RESPONSIBILITY & LEADERSHIP

AGC students begin leading yoga independently after less than a year of teacher-led yoga. In Kindergarten, yoga begins as a storytelling activity. For example, a teacher will lead students through a journey into the woods, where they see great big trees (and assume Tree Pose) and meet a brave warrior (and assume warrior pose.) Once they have learned the simple poses, they are able to select poses from a classroom yoga book by Mindful Practices and “Yogi” becomes a rotating classroom job, alongside “Electrician” (responsibility for turning off lights and appliances when not needed.) 

PHYSICAL AND SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL HEALTH

At AGC, classroom yoga is just one way that we encourage self-awareness and self-regulation towards positive social and emotional health and one of many physical activities that our students undertake throughout the day, alongside wellness class and recess. A 6 month quantitative and qualitative study conducted by a school yoga organization confirmed that yoga improves students’ physical strength, flexibility, balance and relaxation, individual capacity for focusing, concentration and retention of new information, social and psychological development as expressed in higher self esteem (confidence, efficacy) and body awareness.

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