The new school year is under way and I’ve been asked to start two S.T.O.P. and Relax groups: a Small Group in one elementary school, and a Classroom Practice in the other. The sessions for each group will be 30 minutes weekly.
For the Small Group, the school principal has chosen three boys in the third grade. All three are special needs students, with varying disabilities, included in general education classrooms. They are prone to tantrums and noncompliance, and it is hoped that the yoga and self-calming practice will reduce these behaviors. The group will meet in my office for practice. Being at the same grade level, the boys all have the same rotating “Specials” schedule. With their parents’ permission, S.T.O.P. and Relax practice will become one of their weekly Specials. The permission slip templates from the S.T.O.P. and Relax Instructor’s Manual are easily adapted for this context.
The first grade teacher seeking the Classroom Practice is particularly concerned about an exceptional education student who frequently is noncompliant, leaves his seat, and calls out. At times he withdraws, and at times he acts out. Believing other students in the class also will benefit from practicing S.T.O.P. and Relax, she prefers that the entire class practice weekly, rather than the priority student leave the classroom.
I am using the introductory student story from the Instructor’s Manual, “It’s Time to Relax,” as-is for the Small Group. For the Classroom Practice, I am adapting it, since we will not be using mats and removing shoes. We will use only seated and standing postures, which the students can do at or beside their desks. I also am adapting the Rules for Relaxation for the Classroom Practice, replacing “Stay on your OWN mat” with “Stay in your OWN space”, and replacing the picture of students on mats with simple drawings of a chair and of two stick figures standing with space between them.
I’ve made the adaptations by printing the originals, removing unnecessary sections of the story book, and overlaying parts of the rules and the storybook with the text and pictures I want, printed using Century Gothic font, size 22. Then I make copies of the revised sheets. I found that on my school computer the story did not print easily as a pdf, but screen shots taken and used to create the story as a Word document worked very well.
To collect baseline data, I am asking the teachers of the Small Group students to complete the Signs of Stress checklist from the Instructor’s Manual. The teacher of the Classroom Practice group will do so for her priority student. The teachers also will collect baseline data using the Scatterplot from the Instructor’s Manual.
I’ve ordered the Aberrant Behavior Checklist from Slosson, as well, to learn how ratings on this measure compare to those on the Signs of Stress checklist.