What does Virtual Programming look like?
Adapting to Virtual Programming is imperative to the survival of InnerConnected. As an Ambassador who has implemented in-person sessions and has seen the benefits of the program in the youth served, it is crucial for the organization to adapt to the current situation. While in the midst of a global pandemic, virtually nothing happening in-person, everything has shifted into online. Most, if not all schools, are teaching virtually, most work is done online and with no clear end in sight, the survival of any business or organization is to adapt.
I have successfully run an online program with InnerConnected. And after seeing the same benefits show up in my kids online as they did in-person, the push for more online programming to meet the times is essential. But what does it look like? Online teaching of mindful movement, meditation and play is a learning curve that InnerConnected must take for the sustainability of the organization long term.
So what does virtual programming look like? Several things go into creating a safe learning space online. The first is to find a way to deliver the program to the youth. The school I implemented my program with decided to use Zoom, ideally any video conferencing media would work, Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, etc. I highly recommend knowing the platform you use inside and out. What I like about Zoom is the ability to use breakout rooms.
In our curriculum, we teach Me, You and We. And while online poses a real threat to the You and We sections as we relied on partner and group activities, breakout rooms are the virtual programming solution. In the You section, we are easily able to divide students into pairs and provide them a safe, secluded space to learn more about their partners. In the We sections, using the breakout rooms as safe vessels to breakout into groups of 3 or larger to help our students understand the unity and interconnectedness of working together. One thing these breakout rooms provide that in-person programming can’t, is the absolute seclusion of both you and your partner and your group. This provides the students with better focus at the task in hand, exploring the others and the group without distractions. These breakout rooms are where I saw my students find their voice and their power. It was in the You and We sections, through the breakout rooms they were able to open up, learning and sharing more with those around them.
Mindful movement, such as yoga asanas, are still able to be taught in virtual programs. Yes, it looks different then how I would teach in-person, however the benefits are still there and are even more enhanced! I went through a learning curve when it came to teaching yoga asanas online. I first thought I could teach from doing, flowing through the flow and cueing like I did in-person. However I was wrong, I was quickly thrown with thoughts of, “‘I can’t see my kids’”, “‘What if they aren’t being safe?’”, ‘“Are they understanding and getting it?’”, amongst many more. The solution I found was Google Slides, aka Powerpoints. Through Google Slides, I set up a picture of someone conducting the yoga asana I would then sit on screen cueing, ensuring that my students were moving MINDFULLY and safely. This is no easy feat for a teacher to cue without doing! I am blessed that I had the opportunity to teach in-person to hone these skills. To any teachers out there that are nervous about this, I recommend writing down the cues, thinking of it as a script. That way, when the time comes, you can read from the script, ensuring you are cueing correctly. Through this solution I have been able to praise and correct students in Sun Salutation A, B, and Jivamukti Yoga “Magic Ten”. Not only am I able to see my students and ensure they are being safe, I am also able to watch their growth with mindful movement. There comes a point where they aren’t even looking at the computer screen but rather flowing through my cues on their own.
Discussion and Games. One needs to get creative when it comes to this part. Again using powerpoints as a visual in instructing has been paramount. It is easier to reach the learning abilities of all students through verbal and written explanations of games and terminology in discussions. While the games are done through a screen, you are still able to laugh, learn and grow through the more thought-provoking games. I have had to schedule extra time for the games, the knowledge learned is still present. Using play as a way of learning has shown success with youth, and having an opportunity to get the students up from their seats to play a game while still online has been important. One less burden for the teacher through virtual programming and games is providing props for each student; now students have all the props they need without teachers having to struggle with finding enough for everyone. This goes from props like blocks or stools to paper and coloring utensils.
The last bit of virtual programming that I’ve used is Google Classrooms. What an ingenious idea from Google! Now we have a way of delivering those powerpoints effortlessly and efficiently to students, I’m able to share my Sun Salutation A powerpoint for all my students to practice outside of class. We have been able to provide even more resources to students through building a Google Slides – Virtual Yoga Studio. Using bitmoji, Google Slides, and linkedin objects that engage the students to explore website/YouTube resources to help further their growth in yoga asanas, meditations, and much more.
As a teacher I am less mobile, however the students are not. They are up moving in mindful movements and games for the whole 60 minutes in class. At the end of the day the program is for the students, and making sure they stay engaged for the whole hour posed a real challenge with virtual programming. However, through mindful lesson planning, I have adapted the InnerConnected curriculum to meet the times of virtual programming to ensure the organization may continue to provide Social Emotional Learning to youth – in a time where it is more necessary than ever.