• Calm,  Energy,  Nurturing,  Transitioning

    Read Alouds and Energy

    Reading aloud is a major part of Primary class time and I use picture books to spark interest in a new subject, to deepen understanding, or just to be silly. Lately, I’ve been exploring using read-alouds as a tool to shift energy in the classroom. One day, the students came in from a PE where there had been some conflict. Their hurt feelings carried over into the classroom and the endless he-said-she-said began as soon as they got in the room. One student curled up and wouldn’t say a thing except and occasional “no I didn’t!” at the top of her lungs. Communication had broken down, and aside from endless…

  • drawing of tree

    Tonya’s Story

    We want to add some stories from people who have attended Living Wisdom Schools; to hear about how this form of education has impacted the rest of their lives. This story is from Tonya Gorman, who was one of the very first students at the Living Wisdom School in Portland. These days, she is exploring Costa Rica. I went to the Living Wisdom School Portland (LWS) from 1st grade until 6th. During this time I learned many valuable skills. One skill I learned that I have been able to carry with me though my public high school years and now college is how to control myself and my emotions despite…

  • primary class student
    Energy,  Transitioning

    Energy and Attention

    Chandi, the kindergarten teacher at Living Wisdom School in Seattle, writes about how she redirects her students’ attention. “One of my favorite ways of changing energy is using my classroom xylophone. I’m not a fan of teachers using a loud voice to call their classes for attention. I think it is jarring to their energy bodies. That is why I use the xylophone. I am also using whispering, with the xylophone now and singing a little song with freezing.  I sing a lot and play harmonium with songs and melodies that I make up for transitions.” (You can read more about Chandi’s classroom on her blog, Inside Out.) One of…

  • christmas ornaments
    Energy,  Focused Attention,  Transitioning,  Willpower

    Boss of the Day

    Bharati is a master EFL teacher who taught at Living Wisdom in Beaverton for 15 years and now fills as a teacher whenever there is a need. She was recently filling in for Usha, teaching Communication/Language Arts to the 3rdgrade class. Since the class is 3-4-5th grade, the 3rd graders leave the classroom to do work, and they often work in a multipurpose room at the school. On this day, the room had recently been drastically changed. All of the Christmas decorations were up. As is perfectly natural, the students were excited, and instantly were drawn to explore the room. Bharati let the students explore for a few minutes, but…

  • playdough
    Body Awareness,  Calm,  Music,  Nurturing,  Transitioning,  Water

    Calming Energy with Music

    Usha tells a story in Calm and Compassionate Children about a time that she chose to use music in the classroom to change energy, rather than talking and ordering students about. The students had come in from recess, many arguing and up in arms about something that had happened on the playground. This is a very familiar scene to most teachers, as often simple playground disagreements start to expand to more and more students until most of the students are involved in the dispute. Rather than go straight to talking, Usha suggested that they drink some water, and sit silently for 5 minutes while they drank and relaxed. She put…

  • Energy,  Transitioning

    Changing Energy

    Getting the students’ attention when transitioning activities is one of the most important behavior management tools that a teacher can have. The energy that accompanies that attention-getting will impact the energy of the new activity. When I first started working at LWS in Beaverton, I was struck by the much calmer ways that the teachers got student attention. It was much more going with the flow of the children, working to channel their energy, rather than trying to change it. This gets to the heart of what Education for Life strives to do. In most schools, transition times are rather jarring. Teachers use often use a loud call and response…

  • playing with leaves
    Education for Life,  Nurturing,  Teaching Values

    The Story of “A Cucumber Seed”

    Where does the name “A Cucumber Seed” come from? It’s a story passed around in the Education for Life world, an oral tradition, you might say. And like most oral traditions, no one really knows where exactly it started. Usha claims Nitai first said this, but Nitai has no recollection of ever saying it, so we are left to focus instead on the message, rather than the bibliography. What is Education for Life about? It’s about teaching children how to be their truest, most powerful and best selves. Many schools and philosophies of education have a goal in mind. In these schools, the process of education is to train children to fulfill…