Today’s guest post comes to us from Reisa (Reis) Brooks, a student teacher working in a grade 8 classroom across the hall from me.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was in Reis’ position and we’ve grown close throughout the duration of her practicum.  Reis has been teaching my class’ social studies because her mentor teacher usually teaches my social studies.  Reis and I have bonded over our similar fashion sense (think daily comments from our students, “Mrs. Alleyn, you and Miss Brooks look exactly the same today!” – unplanned outfit coordination, I promise), our love for coffee and our daily triumphs and struggles with our students.  I will be terribly sad to see Reis finish her practicum and move on; however, our district is about to gain another incredible educator, which makes me very happy! I know I’ll be booking her as my TOC as soon  as she gets on the sub list!  Here’s what Reis has to say about a recent social studies lesson we co-taught…enjoy.

Amidst my final practicum I have strived to experiment with as many different strategies and forms of teaching as possible in order to keep the students engaged and interested in their subjects. In Social Studies 8 we are covering Ancient India, more specifically the Gupta Empire. Over the duration of this unit I quickly discovered that there are only so many ways to immerse your students in a cultural experience within the walls of a classroom. With the help of an excellent teacher mentor, Karley Alleyn, I was able to bring a cultural experience to the students in hopes that each student take ownership of their own learning, their own experience and challenge them to be present in an unknown cultural experience.

Students resting in savasana during our yoga practice.
Students resting in savasana during our yoga practice.

Moksha yoga (not the branded studio, but the type of practice itself) has a large place in Indian culture especially during this era, as well as in modern India. Moksha was traditionally practiced in the early mornings to avoid the heat of the day as well as to provide one with relaxation, focus and to bring forth positive energy releasing toxins from the body. Yoga, both a skill and a discipline, allows one to focus in on themselves and their own being, relieve tensions and bring both body and mind to a peaceful, calm state. My students accepted this challenge with open arms and, although some were skeptics at first, many of them felt the benefits that yoga can bring to one’s life in the short 30 minute practice we did at school. Bringing moksha yoga into the classroom was an excellent experience for myself as well as the students who came with open minds toward a culture and who succeeded in a challenge to experience an aspect of a culture many were not familiar with. Sending thanks and gratitude to Mrs. Alleyn for instructing such an amazing class. Namaste.      -Written by Reis Brooks

soulshine

Following the yoga practice, Reis had her students (and mine) write an exit slip reflection about the yoga experience.  Here are some comments extracted from our students’ exit slips:

“I had mixed emotions at the start, I didn’t really want to do it. But once we started I actually enjoyed it it was very relaxing and peaceful.”

“I felt like I forgot about all my school work I hadn’t done, and things that stressed me out.”

“This was my first yoga experience it was so relaxing and calming.”

“Having no shoes on made me feel at home!”

” I liked it because it gave me a chance to focus just on myself with the music playing and my eyes closed.”

“Yoga is used to relax; I agree I’ve never felt more calm.”

“I really enjoyed that experience I wish we could do it again”

“It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. If I had the chance I would do it again!”

After reading our students' reflections about their yoga practice (for many of them, their FIRST yoga experience ever!) I am truly feeling this quote!
After reading our students’ reflections about their yoga practice (for many of them, their FIRST yoga experience ever!) I am truly feeling this quote!

Karley