Class of 2014 K-2
Wellness Through Movement Mentorship January 2014-May 2014
BUILDING TOGETHER a WHOLE CHILD
MAHALO TO the TEAM
Parents; Principal Garcia; Counselor Rosemae Watterson; Sponsors: First Hawaiian Bank and Community Member and Teachers Mel Rufo, Merrilee Carpenter and Bindi Wiernicki; Interns and assistants Andy Russell and Cherry Sanford
KOHALA ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL, SCHOOL COUNSELOR AND PARENTS
Mahalo nui loa to parents of the WTM program for your attendance, correspondence, and outreach in the program. Rose Mae Watterson, School Counselor thank you for your care and support to keep the program going. We will miss you next year and say aloha in your new life of retirement. Nothing would have happened with out over reaching to new horizons for his school, mahalo Principal Danny Garcia, at Kohala Elementary School for all the extra hours and efforts put for to bring WTM into the Kohala Elementary school. Your efforts to reach into the families or your children and go the extra mile to help the research project come to your school will not be wasted. Parents are still corresponding to us about their process and research logistics are still developing with Vassar College.
FUNDERS and SPONSORS
▪ Private Community Members
▪ First Hawaiian Bank
▪ North Kohala Community Resource Center
▪ 21st Century Program
Mel Rufo (5th grade), Merrilee Carpenter and Bindi Wiernicki 1st grade
Thank you teachers who reached out to improve the wellbeing of their students and squeezing WTM into their schedules. And a special thanks to Bindi Wiernicki for opening up her room to us after school.
With children in WTM your efforts to be the best parents you can be shows in your child. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Carolyn Palmer at Vassar College, thank for traveling all the way from New York and for her enthusiasm in the program and research expertise.
F.I.S.H. (Feldenkrais In Schools Hui) members: Ed Mill, physicist and Feldenkrais Practitioner and Carolann Felldin keeping minutes and giving input for the year long of weekly conference calls brainstorming assessments for body-to-brain effects.
(A list of activities and achievements are at the end of this Blog.)
Wellness Through Movement that has never happened before like this winter at Kohala Elementary. Information from the body, the heart of the child, is getting buried and further out of reach but success was made. Teachers and parents are reporting health, vitality, and empathy may be declining as pressures increase and as a results more challenging behavior in children at younger ages. Challenging behaviors are become more extreme and at younger ages. Parents, Principal Garcia, Teachers (especially Mel Rufo), and community support is stepping in to help. Extreme behaviors are taking more time away from teachers being able to teach and the recognition that Education has to become a community effort is spreading wide.
A curious observation was how did the younger kids (kindergarten- 2 grades) remembered twice as much as the older kids (3rd -5th grades)? Younger children applied the tools and used their bodies get information about themselves. They were also more cooperative and compassionate with each other. Their bodies continued to improve in flexibility and organization weeks after the lesson. The older group of kids did not remember what we did. There is a lot of conflict between each other. The most alarming was how the older kids acted as if they were looking through a screen to their peers. They were removed or disconnected from each other differences.
How do we build cooperation and compassion? WTM works from sensory self-awareness literally feeling the physical-ness inside the body. The personal experience from physical sensations makes self-awareness, mind and body, undeniable. To become self-directive and inspire motivation we teach self-reflection …and most important compassion towards personal processes (as well as with others).
Education teaches a thought and reasoning process that parrots information only to be correct and not applicable to life skills. What is correct today may not be correct tomorrow, the year 2072 when our kindergartners are in their 60’s. Attention is trained to focus on approval “out there” and results are reactions are competitive thus conflictive between peers or the children give-up. The efforts for self-inquiry and collaboration are foreign concepts. Innovation scrabbled their minds.
The foreign feeling of looking inside, particular at their body’s reaction fuels a child’s curiosity. When someone feels the personal effects it catches interest. Though what used to take three weeks for all children to feel their bodies in WTM program this time it took almost three times as long (for the younger children) and four times as long (for the older children). When they did a few children did make profound changes.
To find themselves we turned the responsibility on them and asked, “You tell us how could you feel your selves (touching the floor in a lying position)?” After joking around about needing GPS they took some time and eventually answers came.
For these children conditioning over time and space is becoming not “real.” Attention and behavior may think it is all about “out there” yet their internal dialogue is making a fuss saying “NO! There’s more.” Conditioning or cultural ways is not the only problem; it is the lack of knowing there is a middle ground.
The middle ground is whom that person is between out there and inside. The “middle ground” is a sense of physical sensations to thinking, feeling and acting. When “experience” becomes understanding it is the body that is talking to the brain. Key to finding the middle ground is being able to feeling the body’s input with the brain.
Feeling and understanding the messages from the body is not easy. Attention to its ways needs training daily. This is why parents and teachers are so important to be part of the program. The routine of looking inside is what opens understanding. The body holds “habitual patterns” wired in muscles thus become automatic, robotic and thus hard to notice. WTM lesson reeducates these muscles to sense brain and body connection. After a lesson a fourth grade boy responded, “One side (of his body) feels an ‘outer calm’ but an ‘inward mean’ and the other side (reeducated side) feels an ‘inner calm.’” I asked how does the “inner calm” relate to others. He said, “Oh no, I only let my good friends see my inner calm.” (The child didn’t have any good friends at school.) Each child describes the differences between who is inside and who is with the world. One child was very popular but couldn’t sleep. Another had violent reactions to others but didn’t know how to speak his truth.
It’s time for Education to teach about the middle ground between thinking and doing. What children understand is based on what the other thinks and is not always necessarily true. Essential for human beings to reach their potential is to first know intimately in both inner and outer worlds. The accurate sense of the physical body clarifies this understanding. Health, safety, innovation and self-direction is dependent the whole truth. The intellect cannot operate in the one-dimensional anthropology such as “out there.”
We found children could rote learn and answer questions “correctly” about what we were teaching but it wasn’t until they understood personally did they apply. The physical sensations AND outer impressions create perception. If children are trained to feel too much out there, they can’t sort out what is right. Split between the two body and mind lies the hidden gift of that human being.
The middle ground is important for all types of situations. A child fell off his bike because he stopped but could feel his bike was still moving. His brain said he stopped but the bike said was still moving. Another was accused of pulling the hair of a little girl. Everyone in the class reacted and told him to say he is sorry. The child wouldn’t talk to tell us his truth. He didn’t pull her hair. It was the little girl that finally admitting he didn’t. A father sliced off his two fingers on a table saw after paying (violent) video games intensely for 4-6 weeks. He believes this made him not fully present at the saw. His awareness was hidden. Being in a body can feel illusive… and dangerous if we don’t know the middle ground. Demoralization of space and time animates a different dimension of perspective. Brain chemistry changes and behavior is disturbed. There is a middle ground and in it a supreme value of information open through the coherence of the human complexity, not separation.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
Children can’t do it alone. We will continue to help the parents who saw improvement implement tools in daily life. Sustainability is dependent on parent community participation. The needs at home and in schools are the responsibility of all. We will be working with Universities to bring this information into undergraduate curriculum by first inspiring and running research. Teachers need support early on in their career. By the time they are on the job their schedules and stress levels are too high. The field of “Embodied Cognition” in psychology will be WTM focus for this mission.
Follow-up with parents and evaluate the children progress in the fall will also requested. Plans to implement tools in an easier way next year are being brainstormed with Principal Garcia and WTM director Catherine Rosasco-Mitchell. Kohala Elementary teacher interested in learning how to implement concepts into the classroom will also be considered. Commitment of time from the teachers is necessary yet levels of commitment are negotiable to make this feasible.
FOR TEACHERS (Classroom and Extra Curricular Programs) INTERESTED
Wellness Through Movement offers four levels of commitment in the teacher training:
▪ Offers for WTM tools to be adapted into extra curriculum programs, e.g. yoga, dance, garden, hula, and music
▪ Offers to come into the classroom and work individually with the more challenging children
▪ Offers to come into teacher classrooms and work side-by-side with teachers and adapt concepts to classroom culture
▪ Offers to provide brain function lessons in classrooms
▪ Offers to do a P.A. announcement
(Note: We are told classroom teachers have a new reading program to learn for fall of 2014 on top of their regular job. This may take their time away from being able to commit to WTM.)
Publication and research is composing for child development conferences in collaboration with University professor Carolyn Palmer at Vassar College and research team F.I.S.H. (Feldenkrais In Schools Hui).
▪ Offer availability for individual sessions to parents or children interested for a discounted fee.
ACHIEVEMENTS WITH CHILDREN
Children Completing Program (14)
▪ 5 children ages 3rd -5th grade
▪ 9 children ages K-2nd grade
▪ 90% of the parents of the children in the WTM program report “greatly improved” their child’s wellbeing. 100% of the parents who took the survey said the WTM proved supportive for their children (70% said “greatly supportive”).
▪ 90% of the children who attended all classes improve in physical organization and coordination.
▪ Private Parent Consultations: 5 parents reported suggestions greatly improved and valued suggestions; 3 parents reported somewhat improvement with suggestions (12 hours of Parent consultations was offered to 8 parents)
MAJOR CHANGES with Two Children
Fifth Grade Boy
▪ Cured insomnia
▪ Personality shifted to happier more playful participant with peers
▪ Kindergartner began to talk after not talking for 10 weeks and became responsive to directions. Child also started talking about past traumas at beginning of school year.
▪ Mother reports cured of grinding his teeth and sleeps deeper and snores
▪ Principal reports no more office visits for poor conduct
HURDLES PROCESS OF PROGRAM FACED
▪ After school class attendance commitment was poor:
▪ 28 Children Signed up For the Program and we had 14 no complete program
▪ 8 children no show
▪ 1 child moved
▪ 1 child was removed because parent work schedule allowed her have time with child
▪ 1 child switch classes because is met more afternoons and wasn’t allowed to do both classes (working parent)
▪ 1 child dropped because he felt left out (he was from another school)
▪ 2 child dropped reason unknown
▪ Scheduling with teachers and lack of time
▪ Teacher correspondence
▪ Stress level of teachers
▪ Room, equipment and logistics
WHAT HAPPEN WITH FUNDS
▪ 15 week WTM program (14 children)
▪ 2 Groups (Grades K-2 & 3-5)
▪ In-Classroom (62 children) WTM lessons
▪ Instructor Stipend
▪ Assistant Instructor Stipend
▪ 15 week physical education-yoga class and equipment at elementary school in Hilo conducted by University of Hawaii Hilo students and professor Cassidy Sterling
▪ Note: Teacher Stipend was declined due to lawsuit with DOE
▪ In-Class Lessons on WTM Tools (64 Students)
▪ Parent Hours
▪ 5 parents to Kohala Library
▪ 10 parents at Kohala Elementary and
▪ 14 the second time at Kohala Elementary
▪ 40 parents to Waimea Elementary
▪ Student Progress Reports for parent review
▪ Phone and Email Correspondence
▪ End of the Program Evaluations
▪ 6 Blog Entries
▪ WHAT HAPPEN End of Year Report
▪ The Human GPS
▪ Research project continues
▪ Listening four basic steps
▪ Transition Times Body to Brain
▪ Child Get Organized
▪ Research Update
▪ Meetings 10 (phone and office)
▪ Meetings 4
End of Program Evaluation and Parent Survey
Development of Teacher Training Program Model
▪ Classroom visits
▪ WTM lessons in classroom
▪ Debriefing teachers WTM tools
▪ Observe and evaluate teachers implementing tools
▪ Debriefing Teachers teaching tools
Research Follow-up (Presently)
▪ Evaluation and Testing Research Assessments with Vassar
▪ Vassar College and F.I.S.H. research team review and test assessments
▪ Project development for poster presentation submission To SRCD Society for Research in Child Development conference Philadelphia 2015
▪ Control group from University of Hawaii Hilo equipment donation for PE
Intern Training (2)
▪ Video debriefing
▪ Private sessions
▪ Pre-and post review of class or lesson
(One intern got accepted into the four-year Feldenkrais Training and plans to come back to Hawaii to teach.)
Video Recording of WTM Program
▪ Children’s program 15 weeks
▪ 1 Parent Presentation
▪ 2 In-Class Lessons
▪ Intern debriefing (4 weeks)
Outreach from Parent Support Group in Successful Elementary schools
Ideas for Parent involvement
▪ 1 hour/month volunteer
▪ Garage sale for supportive funds
▪ Parent Organization Fund Raising
*Catherine Rosasco-Mitchell is the Director and Instructor for WTM