I have been practicing yoga faithfully for the last few months and I really enjoy it. This was not always the case.
When I first tried yoga, many years ago, I felt like a failure. Not only did I not know what the instructor meant when he said, “Downward dog,” but even after I looked around and figure out what I was supposed to do, my body would not cooperate. I did not have the strength, coordination, or stamina to attempt or sustain many of the poses in a basic class. I tried the class a few times, feeling ridiculous and stupid every time, and soon quit.
Years later, when I returned to a yoga class, there were still plenty of poses with which I was unfamiliar. The first class or two felt intimidating, but not impossible. I knew that if I continued to attend class and to practice my own yoga, I would learn the poses. I had confidence in that. At the same time, I was working out, both on my own and with my personal trainer, improving my cardiovascular abilities, my strength, and my endurance. I know that all of that work made the improvements I saw in yoga happen quicker than they would have if I had only been trying yoga once a week with no other support.
Today in yoga class, some of my practice came so easily that I began to take my strength for granted. Then my trusty lower back pain kicked back in and reminded how susceptible I am to injury and how much more I can continue to grow. Child’s pose was my good friend today.
What does this have to do with leading and learning?
This reminds me of some of our struggling students, who often receive so much negative or constructive feedback about one particular area of their studies (decoding, multiplication tables, etc.) that they become laser-focused on that one weakness, forsaking the continued building of other skills. If we looked at learning as the integration of skills, we could also see that when we strengthen all areas, individual areas will grow over time.
I also think of teachers, especially the hard-working teachers with whom I work. Our teachers are currently learning a whole new word (you have heard of Common Core, right?!). This new learning often makes teachers self-conscious of all aspects of their teaching, wondering if the same pedagogy, student engagement strategies, enjoyable texts, or transition activities can and should work with their students now. As we continue to strength our knowledge about the expectations of Common Core and the realities of what that looks like for students, I hope we continue to support one another’s strengths.
I know that my Crane Pose is stronger today than ever, and I have not just weekly yoga practices to thank, but also daily push ups, walking, resistance training, and the torture created by that trainer.
What have you learned lately?