4 Essentials of Effective Youth Yoga and Mindfulness Teaching Part Two: Pedagogy

IMG_6970In this series, we unpack the essential elements of effectively teaching youth yoga; Purpose, Pedagogy, Relationship and Appropriate Practices.

Pedagogy: Our Approach to the Art of Teaching

Teaching yoga to youth requires us to have a clear understanding of both the method of our practice and our approach to the science of teaching.  The way of teaching an adult mindfulness or yoga class does not translate directly into the youth classroom.

We all have a dominant teaching style, or collection of styles, whether we are conscious of it or not. Our personal pedagogy develops over time and experience. Keeping a steady diet of theoretical research, as well as a practice of observing other teachers, helps us hone our methods. Some teachers tend to set the stage for students to discover, while others prefer to give detailed instructions from the outset of a lesson. In some classes, only the teachers voice is heard. Other classes feature voices from some or all students.

Becoming conscious of our natural pedagogical tendencies adds value to our teaching practice on many levels. First, that awareness allows us to make more defined, informed choices. For example, a teacher committed to giving a platform for all of her students voices can build peer teaching into the curriculum. Teachers concerned with democratic processes in education can invite input into the formation of the curriculum based on students needs.

Being conscious of our pedagogy enhances our ability to modify and refine our teaching to greater effectiveness over time. We can seek out new theoretical knowledge to “fill in” our understanding  of how students learn. We can see any deficiencies in our approach when we are more conscious of our foundations. These deficits can become the fuel for our further exploration and lead us to practical wisdom that transforms our teaching from adequate to extraordinary. As we become more conscious of our own process as learners and teachers, our classes become alive and satisfying experiences.

And, finally, understanding our preferred pedagogy helps tremendously in selecting appropriate venues for teaching. In other words, knowing my own commitment to holistic teaching guides me to schools and centers that value the body-mind connection. Teaching at a gym that emphasizes physicality over all else would not be a good choice for me as a teacher.

Here are some of the pedagogical foundations that inform the Shanti Generation curriculum.

 

A.  Developmentally Appropriate Practices

  • Pertains to specific set of physical, psycho-social, and emotional factors typically present in given age groups.
  • Informed by an understanding of how humans develop.

 

B. Democratic and Experiential

  • Community of Learners: every participant has a voice in the learning process.
  • We learn by doing.
  • See works by Paulo Freire and John Dewey.

 

C. Critical

  • Guided by inquiry.
  • Addresses issues of social justice.
  • See works by Cornell West and bell hooks.

D. Constructivist

  • Start with what students know and build on it; scaffolding.
  • See works by Vygotsky.

E. Holistic

  • Teaches whole child.
  • Kinesthetic/Physical
  • Intrapersonal/Spiritual
  • Interpersonal/Social
  • Visual
  • Linguistic/ Auditory/ Musical
  • Emotional
  • Logical
  • Naturalistic
  • See works by Howard Gardner and Linda Lantieri.

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