June 12, 2011

She likes me, She really really likes me–and why that’s important for teaching yoga

My third grade teacher, Mrs. Gallagher, rocked my world. She was the kind of teacher you still talk about when you’re 35. You know that one teacher–the one who made you feel like you were the most important kid in the entire world. Yeah, well, that was Mrs. G.

She introduced me to Roald Dahl and the solar system.  She gave me the funny role in the school play and helped me organize my class’s performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller for the school wide talent show and forever won my heart.

And when she recently friended me on Facebook, I again felt like the most important kid in the world. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t the only kid who felt that way. There were other messages from past students–the kid who ate pens, the girl with the unfortunate hair, the boy being raised by his grandparents–all expressing similar sentiments to mine.

One of today’s leading experts on raising resilient children, Dr. Robert Brooks, coined the phrase,”Charismatic Adult” to describe good folks like Mrs. Gallagher.

A charismatic adult accepts kids for who they are, turns setbacks into teachable moments, provides opportunities for kids feel a sense accomplishment, and is always, ALWAYS a child’s biggest fan.

Admittedly, being a charismatic adult isn’t always easy because not all kids are easy (or easy to like).  But, in my opinion, being one is the best attribute a teacher can have.  Take a moment and think back to your childhood. Who were your charismatic adults?

Now flash forward, how would you want your students to remember you? Would you want to be remembered as the “what’s-her-name-that-taught-me-yoga” or the “teacher-that-lost-her-cool-or-was-mean” or as the “teacher-that-made-me-feel-like-I-could-do-anything.”

To be a charismatic adult, we must find the glimmer of awesome within every child. It’s not always easy to find, but it’s there. If we can do that, and stay cognizant of the fact that a child’s off-putting behavior is usually just their way of seeking attention, then it will be so much easier to cheer them on as their biggest fan.

And hopefully, in 15 or 20 years from now, there will be a twenty-something sitting around talking about the yoga teacher she had when she was 8–and how important we made her feel.

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