Catching Up with the Runaway Train

School years are like cross-country train journeys.

Both follow a particular route, on a schedule at a fairly predictable pace. 

The typical school year looks like this: 

183 days of work {180 with kids}

New students every August {who you hardly recognize until January}

Professional development trainings {with varying degrees of usefulness}

Staff meetings {no comment}

Refining best practices {making the already good teaching better that is kind of painful in the process, but worth the effort}

A bunch of fun activities at the end-of-the-year {well, fun for the students}

Post high stakes testing, both students and teachers exhale.

Then we continue the job of teaching and learning at a much more relaxed pace until the last bell rings on the final day of school much like a train finally chugging into the last depot at the end of a long journey.

By mid-May, we’re starting to look toward closing out the year:

Completing report cards

Adding some ink to the permanent records 

Spending some time outside {go egg drop, field day, track meet, water play day!}

 Finally learning some science and maybe even doing some art.

I start talking more about how long we’ve been together and how much they’re going to miss me I’m going to miss them when they move to fourth grade.

Except this year was different.

Instead of winding down and closing up shop, we experienced a lot of changes, mostly at the administrative level.

Serious stuff.

Stuff one needed to pay attention to, but I can’t help but feel a bit like my long journey on my predictable train was hijacked my the time bandits and my even-paced end-of-the-year calendar filled up with meeting after important meeting.

I was left feeling quite disoriented.

Today is finally the last day of our long journey.

I’m looking forward to the downtime and battery recharging so necessary at the end of each stressful year. This summer will be filled with some stay-at-home relaxing, some thoughts of how to improve next school year, some traveling with friends and of course, lots and lots of yoga.

How will you recharge your batteries this summer? What will you do to take care of yourself so you can make sure your train stays on the track?

{click image for source}

 

Yoga+Music365 (day41) – The Con by Tegan and Sara – Refinements Edition

This week I’ve thought a lot about this Yoga+Music365 project.

I’ve reached the 40 day milestone, people in real life have talked to me about it (which is such an amazing feeling) and I simply feel different from when I started.

I feel lighter, more clear-headed, more fun.

Maybe it’s the daily yoga.

The biggest indicator that things are shifting in my life came to me yesterday. At school we give HUGE assessments every six weeks and a week or two later get together to discuss the results. We’re looking at data to see how well our instruction is reaching each student and then make a plan how to refine said instruction before the next set of exams.

In the past, testing week was hell. I was very crabby and only worried about results. My stress and results driven ego would essentially ruin everyone’s week.

This time I decided to change my perspective. I would face the assessment results with a sense of curiosity.

Did this last round of instructional refinements make a difference in outcome? Can everyone survive testing week intact?

While testing week isn’t over yet, I am happy to report I have felt a definite lightness in myself. I’ve also seen that lightness translate into encouragement for students working hard and seeing them relax more.

The biggest growth I’ve seen in my students are from my two that struggle the most. I’ve been watching them take their tests this week. Instead of giving up and guessing, each of them is spending time trying to sound out each word and giving their all.

It’s been one big proud teacher moment all week with these two.

So has the refinement in instruction worked?

I would say so.

Has the daily yoga helped me be a better teacher?

Definitely.

+++++++ 

Today’s yoga brought to you by Kim at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento.

Today’s music is The Con by Tegan and Sara.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day35) – Live A Little by Pernice Brothers

I have a confession.

I never understood why yoga teachers thank their students for sharing their practice with them. I honestly just thought it was something that they say to end a class. Or they wanted to be polite or whatever. In any case, I just didn’t get it.

Then at the end of my first class, with everyone smiling at me, I felt it.

Gratitude.

Like that welling up, spilling over, where the hell did this come from – gratitude.

They (gulp! WE) truly are humbled and grateful for you sharing your practice.

I thought you’d like to know… we aren’t faking it.

++++++

Today’s yoga brought to you by Madeleine at It’s All Yoga.

Today’s music is Live A Little by Pernice Brothers.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day34) – Human Like a House by The Finches – My First Class Edition

Monday night I taught my very first solo yoga class.

Despite all my hand wringing nervousness before the class, I absolutely loved it!

It finally clicked why I wanted to do this in the first place: to share something I love with people.

The following is from Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron:

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement.

These words sum up why I love yoga.

Oh yeah, I also really like the laying down with your eyes closed part too!

+++++

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day32) – Blame It On Gravity by Old97s- The Blindfolded Yoga Edition!

Blindfolded yoga?

I so didn’t make this up.

That would be Michelle.

She’s a fancy yoga teacher who is taking a month off from teaching. She’s been doing this for years, so she can get away with that wackiness. She knows what she’s doing and people trust her. They know she’s driving and so they follow her lead.

She’s pretty much a genius.

And she’s trusting me to sub for her during her time off.

DUDE!

That’s a lot of pressure.

I’ve talked to my Monsters and we’ve come to an agreement.

I’ve practiced my class at home, taught it to my wonderfully patient dude, and I promise to remember to breathe during the class.

I’ll also keep in mind that everyone there isn’t expecting Michelle because they all read her blog about her February Recess.

But back to the Blindfolded Yoga…

As soon as I put the blindfold on, I was filled with a sense of peaceful euphoria. All the striving and ego I fight against in the higher level classes just disappeared.  I was free to practice with all my focus internally. I was able to really let go of the anxiety I had been feeling about teaching and settle into concentrating on being in the moment. Of course all those moments included trying not to fall over myself or my props.

For a few minutes I was able to really live in the moment and that’s what yoga is all about.

Today’s yoga brought to you by the home practice! I’ve got to contain my nervous energy somehow.

Today’s music is Blame It on Gravity by Old97s.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

There Are Monsters All Up In There!

At 4:30 am I woke up from an awful dream. I was scheduled to teach a yoga class and it was at the house where I grew up. The room where I was to be teaching was longer and more narrow than I remembered, so I switched to another room only to find it stuffed full of furniture and people waiting.

There were couches and coffee table after coffee table after coffee table, and dining room tables. A bar had been set up and needed to be moved and even coffee and Danish.

And did I mention all the people?

Even my dad was there. He said he wanted to try yoga. He’d heard from someone it’s really good for you and since I’m teaching now, he was there for my class.

Are you effing kidding me?

My dad?

The people just kept coming. They didn’t have their mats or their clothes or any of their yoga stuff. There was a sense of anticipation.The time kept ticking and the furniture moving was going at a snail’s pace.

When would we start? How would we ever begin with all the talking, milling about, furniture moving? How would we fit everyone there?

Everyone kept asking me questions…. thinking I was in charge. Like I knew what to do in these strange circumstances. Like I WAS IN CHARGE….

I kept reminding myself to breathe and that it would be ok.

Except I didn’t even believe myself.

I guess my Monsters are trying to tell me something.

It’s now 5am, I’m blogging and I’ve got heartburn.

I guess you could say I’m losing my freaking marbles about subbing for Michelle (my badass, seemingly perfect, rock star teacher) .

I guess you could say that I’m feeling like I need to plan the perfect class and prepare for everything that may happen.

I need to find the perfect story/poem to start the class.

I need to come up with the perfect sequence for every single person in the class.

I need to know every modification and prop to support every person in every pose.

I need to say the perfect words for every pose and have witty, but not too witty banter between poses.

Simply put, I need ME to be perfect.

Can someone talk to my MONSTERS for me?

I am having trouble getting through.

Michelle said she felt better after she let hers rant and rave for a while.

Me?

I’ve just got heartburn.

Yoga+Music365 (day7) – Here We Stand by The Fratellis

I love January.

Most people think of January as the beginning of the year, the time of year for resolutions and self-improvement. But as a teacher, it is pretty much the midpoint.

I spend the first half of the year filling them up with information, procedures and expectations. Some kids can keep up with the quick pace from the start. Some kids can’t.

But then I send them home for winter break and it finally all sinks in.

My students are finally mine.

Every year in January I’m surprised how much my class comes together. I’m surprised how much we’ve become a real community. We’ve finally learned how to work well together, how to get our work finished and what behavior works and what doesn’t.

By this time of the year, I always feel connected to my students and I am proud of their accomplishments. It’s so nice to see them become more independent learners and to really start to take charge of their learning.

It’s my hope that one day, I will finally remember that my class really becomes mine, in January.

Today’s yoga brought to you by Madeleine at It’s All Yoga, Sacramento. <ROCKS>

Today’s music is Here We Stand by The Fratellis.