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I began developing the teaching strategies presented
on this website in 1997. It was during that period of time, after a year working with preschool kids and 5 years of high school teaching experience, that I first took actual note of the connection between the chaos in students’ minds and their disruptive classroom behavior. My struggle to engage them had become plainly apparent. The first chapter of the book, Cognitive Yoga, describes, in detail, many of the observations I made that led to the connection between the state of students’ minds and their behaviors, both in- and outside the classroom. Classroom control is necessary condition for teaching; unfortunately, I observed that teachers who appeared to have good control of their classrooms often created this atmosphere by intimidating kids. I found this personally offensive and set out on a journey to find a more respectful way to get students on task. My book and website represents a wealth of classroom innovations that I have developed along my way.
Jacqueline, a personal friend and the mother of three children with Attention Deficit Disorder, once offered me a compelling reason for telling her children to obey her. She said that rather than focusing on society’s usual explanations for why children must obey their parents, she focused on her belief that ultimately, children must obey themselves. Applying this notion – that we all have to obey ourselves, eventually – is fundamental to the spirit of this book. We need to discriminate about what is useful or not, set a course, and stay on track; no one else fulfills these responsibilities for us. Jacqueline’s idea is not unique; in fact, I am familiar with the principles presented in this book via various sources. For example, I studied Silva Mind Control with Ramona Garcia, took a week long Hypnosis
Intensive with Shelley Stockwell-Nicolas and learned from hundreds of other much-loved teachers who shared their wisdom. I have also read many books based on these ideas, such as Just Say OM: Your Life’s Journey by Soren Gordhamer, Meditation for Dummies by Stephan Bodian, Life 101 by Peter McWilliams, and the many books by Jon Kabat-Zinn, just to name a few.
Most significantly, I have studied these principles over the course of 33 years with my colleagues at the Advaita Meditation Center, formerly known as the Philosophy Foundation. The first chapter of this book, in addition to describing my above-mentioned observations of the connection between students’ mental state and their behaviors, also presents fundamental Advaita Vedanta principles that explain the philosophical reasoning that is the foundation for the practice.
However the angle taken is how to use these principles when addressing a group of youngsters who bring their own set of ideas and challenges to the teacher. The first source I accessed to describe this perspective is Deborah Rozman 1975 book, Meditating with Children. Soryu Forall presented Mind the Music based on an algorithm for teacher comments that was offered on Skype. My most recent endeavor was the dot B course sponsored by the Mindfullness in Education Group at Rolling Ridge in North Andover Massachusetts.
There are a variety of Emotional Intelligence tools, that we can utilize for guidance. These Emotional Intelligence surveys are taken on line and then we follow through with a discussion. These assessments have been statistically validated cross culturally, cross gender with over 25,000 people. The instruments a suprisingly insightful.
Mindfull activities are challenging to teach. It requires deep self examination, the ability to be ready for anything that arises in the classroom, and a peaceful demeanor right down to your toenails. I can offer coaching in mindfulness to teachers who are introducing these practices into their own classroom. This kind of collaboration will provide you with empathetic support to sustain and encourage you. Write to Lee@cognitiveyoga.com or call 603-888-2355
- Boy trying out the Stop Exercise