Teacher Tips: From the Yoga Mat to the Classroom


Tip #1  – Yoga Can Help Teach You Patience

School teachers need an abundance of patience. Dealing with classroom disruptions, endless meetings, the bureaucratic nature of our jobs. And let’s not forget the endless repetition of hearing your own name thousands of times a day.

Since most of us need much more patience than we naturally have, I would venture to say one would make an absolute fortune should one find a way to bottle and sell patience.

Yoga can teach you patience.

Let me rephrase that: yoga has taught me to have much more patience and I think it can help you too.

Here’s an example of how yoga has let me practice learning patience:  learning a new yoga pose gives me lots of opportunities to practice patience.

First, I have to come to grips with the physical and mental limitations of my body at the time.

My arms seem to suddenly be shorter than necessary.

My legs seem impossibly long (not in the good way).

My wrists are delicate little things when what is required is strength and flexibility.

My personal favorite: I’m tired.

Face it, some poses are just out of my reach right now.

I could get all caught up in the striving – must.do.it.now – or I can relax and understand with practice and yes, patience, I may find that pose becomes easier over time.

Tip #2 – Yoga Can Heighten Your Sense of Patterns and Deepen Your Awareness

In my first few years of teaching, I pretty much abandoned all activities that weren’t directly related to school.

Big mistake.

I thought by creating a laser-like focus on my job, I’d somehow skip over the learning process of becoming a teacher. Mostly, I just burnt myself out.

Since I started practicing yoga on a regular basis, my teaching has dramatically improved.

By stepping away from the classroom, I’ve been able to notice patterns of behavior – mine and theirs.

The time away has given me insights into how my mood, stress level and attitude is reflected in my students. I was able to see that I get back what I put out there.

Time on the mat has also freed up space in my brain to see behavior triggers and stop them before they become an issue.

It’s not that I’m spending all this time on my mat thinking about work either.

It’s like when you are working, working, working on a problem and then you get up to take a walk. You clear your mind and suddenly the answer comes to you while you’re walking. That happens all the time on my mat.

One last lesson I’ve learned from yoga about patterns:

Everything changes.

The good things are temporary.

The impossible-to-stand-for-even-a-second-longers are also temporary.

Tip #3 – Breathing Is A Good Thing

One of the many things I’ve been reminded of over and over during my Fred Jones Classroom Management training this year is the importance of two relaxing breaths.

Pausing to take two relaxing breaths before you take on any teaching situation can help everything (including you!) stay calmer.

According to Fred Jones, “Calm is strength.”

How has yoga or another activity helped you at work?


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2 Years and Waiting – International Adoption is Not for the Impatient

September 11, 2008 we signed our adoption agreement.

2 years down, one more to go.

Finally, our third trimester.


Back in January we got an update on our status. It essentially moved our process from a 2 year to 3 year deal. We were shocked.

Then in April, the wheels really tried to fall off the bus. Someone sent their kid back to their home country and started a firestorm of media attention on international adoption. We just try to keep focusing on all the families that are successfully made through this process.

In June, I shared our journey toward parenthood… 21 months and counting.


It’s September and not much has changed.

We’ve heard it might be February or March for the referral. That is a slight delay, but one that is good to know now, not later.

So what will we do now?





If you are interested in adoption as a way to build your family, please start the process sooner rather than later. It takes a lot longer than you think it will.

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.

Don’t worry about things you cannot alter. – Catherine the Great

Oh Catherine, how right you are.

The last couple weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster for me at work: I’ve been irritable, short-tempered, exasperated, shocked by the bad attitudes of my students. I have been at my wit’s end trying to figure out why my class had become so ill-behaved. Nothing seemed to motivate them and they didn’t seem to care they were losing out of activities. Kids have been losing recess left and right for not following directions, not being ready to work, being sassy with the teacher. I’ve been making way too many “your kid was naughty at school” contacts with parents.

Apparently, I keep forgetting that I work with eight year olds. If you’ve never worked with kids, you’ve never experienced the joy of seeing the worst parts of yourself reflected back twenty (or thirty!) fold. I guess this is what parents feel every day of their lives.

 If I’m short-tempered, critical and judgmental, guess what I get back. If I am kind, confident and respectful – you get the picture.  Recently, I’ve seem an increase in sassy, sarcastic responses – shocking, I know and really, really unattractive in a third grader. So I decided to alter the only thing I can – my attitude and my classroom management system.

Just to test my boomerang theory of behavior, I reinstated team points in my class. This has worked wonders in years past as well as with this very class until a month ago when I decided they were so great that they didn’t need it anymore. (Remind me of this, should I ever need to take mood altering drugs…. “I feel great! I don’t need to take those pills anymore!”)

I explained to my students that every time their team was ready to work before the one minute timer went off,  they would earn a team point. Since their off task behavior during transitions was DRIVING ME INSANE, I thought I would just focus on this one part for now. 

I made a chart paper point sheet, hung it on the easel in the front of the room, gave them their task and set the timer for one minute. POOF! Like magic, every single one of my students had all their materials out and were ready to work – BEFORE THE TIMER WENT OFF!

Thinking this may have been a fluke, I tried it again with the next transition. I gave them their task, set the timer and off they went to gather their materials. Another successful transition!

And another.

What was the big change you ask? Me. I was looking for what they were doing right, rather than what they were doing wrong. This shift in focus helped alleviate the negativity in the room. One other component I added to our “new” system was the “nag wall” – every time I nagged someone about something they weren’t doing right, I had to give myself a negative point.

Before recess we met as a class to debrief the new system. I asked them to think about what went well, what didn’t go well and if they felt better than the day before. Many students explained that we got a lot more work finished than usual because no one was getting in trouble, that they worked together to be ready, they helped each other and the teacher wasn’t mad anymore. I asked my most previously non-compliant kid why he was suddenly able to be ready and work and he said, “Teacher, I didn’t want you to have to give yourself a negative point because of me!”