Monday, March 14, 2011

The View

Lucia's school has four kindergarten classrooms, a total of 96 students and four awe-inspiring teachers. Every morning after the Pledge of Allegiance, these four teachers perch in a row on a kid-height counter that spans the length of one classroom. The 96 children sit on the floor criss-cross-appelesauce, almost stone silent, heads cocked to see the four teachers. Barely raising their voices above a quiet conversational level, the teachers talk about the weather or what the kindergarten day will be like or a special event coming up at the school. The teachers seemingly look through the sea of five- and six-year-olds, ignoring raised hands, chatting about the activities for the day among themselves. The teachers don't even address the kids who are acting out. The kids who can hold it together quiet the loudmouths like pros, absently waving their peace sign fingers in front of the kids disturbing the Kindergarten Teacher Hour starring Ms. Thorp, Ms.Kowabata, Ms. Dadashi and Ms. Martinez. I've very affectionately coined this morning ritual "The View" (after the Barbara Walters show on the ABC Network.)

Last week on The [Kindergarten] View, after the hosts queried each other about who was on for recess duty that day and crossing collective fingers that it wouldn't be another rainy day recess, the topic drifted to problem solving. "Remember what Ms. Lee, the old school counselor used to say...." Ms. Kowabata mused in her sing-song way, "about keeping problems small."

"Right" said Ms. Thorp, putting her index finger to her temple and furrowing her brow, "What did she used to say about that?"

"Keep your problems small by addressing them RIGHT away" Ms. Kowabata instructed her co-hosts, "then your problems will stay small and be easier to solve."

More conversation ensued among the four hosts-- about telling the truth, not holding feelings inside, asking for help. All the while, the children watched and listened, completely star struck. Eventually, Ms. Dadashi observed, "Ms. Thorp's class is the most quiet this morning. Let's watch them walk to their classroom first." And then all of the kids quietly migrated to their respective classrooms.

It doesn't matter what the topic is. Every day, the teachers command this attention from the kids. I stay and watch every chance I get. What I love the most about The [Kindergarten] View is the absence of preaching. There is so much Kindergartners need to learn-- abcs, 123s, hygiene, penmanship. The View offers a totally different angle of learning for the kids. It's almost like the kids are learning these important lessons despite themselves because their teachers are these rock-star, famous people and the kids want to be just like them.

I notice a similar phenomenon among my yoga students. Often, a student will say, "I really wish my partner would practice, but they're so resistant." Over the years, I've learned that the only way to get people to practice is to inspire them with your own practice. "Why are you so calm?" someone might ask or, "Your skin looks so good. New product?" And, after enough times of the answer being "Yoga", this person will try it. You will be their rock star, celebrity talk show host that they want to emulate. And, just like the fabulously well-behaved, compassionate teachers cultivate and nurture 96 well-behaved, compassionate children, we can do the same by practicing yoga and sharing the benefits just by being ourselves.

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