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Teach the Change You Want to See

First Grade Teacher, Asociación Escuelas Lincoln, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Looking at my two daughters correct 2nd and 3rd grade papers and seeing how passionate they are for what they do, made me go back in time 35 years when I also felt just like them, I had the world in my hands. Believe it or not, I still do believe it. Every year I have a little piece of the future. The world will be different by the time my students have grown. Will they remember what they learned in First Grade? I’m sure they will. Don’t we all remember each school year? Good or bad, we do. We sometime do or say things we do not know where they come from…be sure it comes from a learning experience. A time in life that stayed hidden in our heart that comes out just when needed. In my 35 years of experience I have gone through so many workshops! They all remind me of strategies I had forgotten, they all have different names, the all have “similar colors”. We are always thinking about children’s writing skills and if their math is accurate. Do we think about our children as beings surrounded by different energies, environments, cultures, religions, families and friends? Is life only answers and rules?

Are we giving our children the right tools to be happy, peaceful people? Are we making the difference? I have seen so many children walk into my class full of energy. Energy they could not deal with, they didn’t know what to do with it, so they just let it out the wrong way. Screams, tantrums, fights, you name it. We label them in so many different ways because they do not know how to follow the class. I’m sure you know what I am talking about. During my last 15 years I have implemented meditation and yoga in my then third grade and now first grade. Teaching them how to relax their mind and teaching them how to breathe is giving them tools on how to deal in a stressful world full of noises and due dates. How to focus in a task while riding life’s rollercoaster. Sitting in a test and being able to concentrate while the person behind them is coughing or reading the questions, or while hearing the cars go by. The world doesn’t stop for us. We have to learn and teach how to move the world away from our mind. We can all focus and think while being in a quiet environment but that is not reality. Our world is noisy. If we look for a silent place where to be and meditate we will not find it. We will not find peace. Teaching children to meditate in a normal voice level place –or high noise…- is teaching them how to stick to their goal without being influenced by the outside. It is showing them that peace is within us.

Yoga and meditation are not magical. You won’t have children sitting down the very first time you show them. It takes at least a semester. Yes, the whole first half of the year and a lot of patience. Most important, you need to believe in it. During the first stages of meditation, you will be hearing giggles, hands moving, whispers – “Look at her, she is asleep”-. You will feel like opening your eyes and telling them not to do so, but that will discourage them from trying, “If you can’t do it, neither can I”. They need to see you modeling it, noises do not disrupt you. You are in peace (though you know what is going around you. You are not really meditating now; you are modeling). Suddenly, one day the moment has arrived…silence. There is no way back. Your group has learned to enjoy the sound of silence. The silence that tells them, everything is okay.

You must think that my group is calm and quiet. Never so far. Specially this year. They were bouncy and big chatterboxes. I didn’t start with meditation. I had to be flexible. No meditation because it would cause frustration. I started with yoga. Fun yoga. They thought they were playing…they were learning how to calm their body; we go from crazy to clam. It took time to add one minute of meditating relaxation but I have to say we have accomplished it. My class now walks into the room, puts their homework in the basket and sits getting ready for our morning meditation. While they wait for me (attendance has to be done) they have learned to use their spy voice. I sometimes hear a giggle, but what is life without a giggle? I love what I do. I do what I love. I am blessed. I teach the change I want to see.


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