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.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Bob Weisenberg Jun 14, 2011 10:11pm

Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

Bob Weisenberg Jun 14, 2011 8:14am

Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

tanya lee markul Jun 13, 2011 5:40am

Hi Laurie – thanks for this! I think it's so important for us all to celebrate our individuality as we all have something to offer and what a better place to start than with kids! I also think the idea of seeing the awesomeness in anyone can pertain to all of us at any time.

Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Laurie Jordan

Laurie Jordan is the author of YAWNING YOGA: A GOODNIGHT BOOK FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP based on her successful bedtime yoga series, Yawning Yoga and the creator of Little Sprouts Yoga for kids. She has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work and is a certified yoga instructor for children and adults. Find her yoga practice here.

Laurie took her first yoga class when she was 15 but the experience left a nasty taste in her mouth. She was kicked out for laughing at the instructors mantra, “feel the honey golden light in your…unmentionables” Eeww.

Who would have thought that all these years later, that “honey golden” moment would be the one that influences her teaching the most? (Or at the very least, that it serves as a reminder to never say anything as hippy- dippy and dorky as that–and to always, always keep it real.)