Benjamin Cosor Elementary School (BCES) has sustained a Positive Behavior Intervention Services Program (PBIS) since 2008. The principles of PBIS are to encourage students to embrace learning, be responsible, be respectful, be ready and be safe. The PBIS Committee is led by teachers Ms. Heather Mady and Ms. Jessica Bradley.
This past fall third grade teacher Mrs. Jennie Kohler spoke with Ms. Mady about using yoga in the PBIS Program with students that received disciplinary referrals from the Principal during the quarter for inappropriate behavior. Both women had positive thoughts about the possibility. Mrs. Kohler, who had been doing yoga for the past few years, did some research and spoke with her Vinyasa Yoga instructor about how to work with young children.
She then met with BCES Social Worker Mrs. Shannon Kroboth, who was also favorably disposed to the idea. It was felt yoga might help students in making better choices in daily life. When the day for the first class arrived, Mrs. Kohler created a little “yoga studio” in a classroom, with soothing music, and dim lighting. She held forty minute classes each for grades one through six and led the children in breathing quietly and deeply and listening to their breath.
When Mrs. Kroboth observed the class of four eight year-old third graders, she noticed them become engaged in the breathing and later in the gentle movements of yogic postures led and modeled by Ms. Kohler. In the middle of the session, each child spoke about what led to the referral and what they could have done differently. Then the children commented that the breathing and movement was calming and relaxing. The adults observed this relaxation in their faces and speech.
Later the third graders shared that deep breathing put them in a quiet place. The social worker was impressed with their earnestness and how intently they followed Mrs. Kohler’s instructions. To date, no children have received referrals after the second referral-free period since they attended the yoga class. Deep breathing could be a key to slowing down and making better choices. The techniques are useful in teaching reflection on behavior and de-stressing children.
To find out more about the effectiveness of yoga and mindfulness in learning environments, Ms. Kohler and six colleagues from Fallsburg will join other area school staff, health educators, therapists and school professionals in attending a Yoga for Classrooms workshop on February 17, 2017 from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM at Monticello Central School District. Five of FCSD’s attendees are from the District’s Wellness Committee that wants to know more about benefits of yoga to student health. Yoga for Classrooms Implement Leader Ms. Jill Holland will conduct this professional development training for educators that cultivates well-being, resilience and a positive classroom climate. This workshop is provided by Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County (CCESC) as part of Creating Healthy Schools and Communities in Sullivan County. For further information, contact SueAnn Boyd, CCE Healthy Schools Coordinator 845-292-6180.