When San Benito High School dance teacher Heather Nichols introduced yoga to Academic Focus Time (AFTs) in the 2018-19 school year, numerous staff members told her they wished they could participate in the yoga sessions during the school day.
“The Yoga AFTs showed me how strong student interest was in the practice of yoga and inspired me to create the Zero Period Yoga for Personal Fitness course,” Nichols said, noting that while building the curriculum for the early morning sessions, she wanted to have an assessment in which students would create their own personalized practices, meaning students would run the sessions for staff members.
“One of the goals of the course is to provide students with the tools necessary to continue yoga practices on their own to optimize their health,” Nichols continued. “As many teachers know, one of the best ways to comprehend material is to teach it to someone else. Therefore, I thought it would be a great idea to have the students develop their personalized practices and then teach them to staff.”
In order to create an environment in which students and staff both feel comfortable, the yoga AFT was held in separate classrooms. Nichols took student input for the groupings and made sure that they were arranged according to yoga interests and personalities.
“I think this was highly effective as each group collaborated positively with each other and were held accountable for creating specific components of the yoga lesson,” Nichols said. “Teachers were able to sign up with their own students to show support, while administrators, teachers and staff were able to participate in rooms with different student leaders each day.”
After the student-led yoga AFTs, staff shared their feedback online.
“Students have been highly rated, and staff reports that they were able to focus better throughout the day,” Nichols said. “I am happy that the students were able to help staff members calm their minds and gain increased mindfulness for our meaningful work with students.”