Saturday, November 17, 2012

Listen when your student says "no" and you might get a "yes"

I can't believe it has been a month since I lasted posted - it has been unfair of me to keep all my new movement ideas to myself!  So let me get right to sharing:

  1. We all have bodies meaning we all have something in common
  2. We all use our bodies to communicate, no matter how subtle or grandiose
  3. Our muscles hold emotions and sometimes we hold our muscles
  4. Moving our bodies is beneficial for our mental, physical and emotional health
  5. Moving can teach you new things about yourself and others
  6. Everyone can move
  7. There is no right or wrong way to move
  8. Some kids can't stop moving
  9. Some kids are shy to move around others
  10. Everyone's bodies and feelings about movement should be honored to make moving safe, fun and comfortable

I was teaching 3rd graders (not a movement class) but of course I added movement because I always throw in kinesthetic learning no matter what I teach. I started leading a movement exercise and one of my students started to get angry crossed his arms and asked if he "had to dance."  I said yes.  Well, he was not happy and I saw him get anxious tensing his shoulders and standing stiff like a statue.  After the class I thought about the experience.  I wanted him to dance and explore his movement potential but forcing him to move when he was not comfortable had an adverse effect.  His body closed down and he became stressed. 

The next class we were sitting in chairs and I had the children stand up and sing and dance.  I bent over and whispered to him that he could join in if he was comfortable but he should do what felt right to him.  He smiled and looked relieved.  His friend sat next to him and I noticed that they were "dancing" in their chairs.  He had permission to explore his body the way he was comfortable and did it beautifully!

Permission to use your body in a way that is accessible to you (physically, emotionally and mentally) is huge.  Safety and comfort is huge.  And listening to your students is huge - picking up signals not only verbally but in all forms of communication.

It is hard as a teacher to sometimes pull back and look at why a child is saying "no" or not wanting to participate. 

The next time your student/child says "no" (even if you are super excited about your lesson or creative idea) take a moment to explore why they don't want to participate.  Giving a child permission to say "no" might lead them to exploring at their own pace and teach them movement is safe because they are choosing to do it - and not being forced before they are ready.  And that "no" might soon become a "yes."

Explore the "no's" with the children in your life!