JoAnn Wong-Kam, Principal
JoAnn Wong-Kam is the K-1 Supervisor at Punahou School, a private, co-educational, college preparatory school in Honolulu, Hawaii. In her role as K-1 Supervisor, Ms. Wong-Kam oversees curriculum development and assessments for her students, along with teacher evaluations and parent-teacher meetings.
Always looking for new ways to support the success and wellbeing of her students and teachers, Ms. Wong-Kam observed that her teachers were beginning to incorporate elements of mindfulness into their classrooms.
In an effort to build upon this concept, she decided to partner with Yoga Ed. to introduce a pilot yoga program to her kindergarten and first grade students. Since the initiation of the program, her teachers and students have had the opportunity to practice mat yoga as a part of their P.E. curriculum, and the benefits have been multi-faceted.
Yoga Ed. Meets Punahou’s Curriculum Needs
Committed to innovation and the latest in evidence-based practices, Punahou was already considering how they could leverage principles of neuroscience to support student outcomes. Yoga Ed., being similarly grounded in brain-based learning and child development, was a perfect match for the school’s learning philosophy. Coupling a foundation in neuroscience with elements of social emotional learning and mindfulness, Yoga Ed. was able to provide a holistic approach to wellness that emphasizes a healthy mind-body connection. And, because Yoga Ed.’s lessons meet national standards for P.E., Punahou P.E. teachers were able to seamlessly integrate the programming into their regular curriculum, without losing a beat.
Yoga Ed. Supports Punahou Students’ Learning
By participating in yoga classes through Yoga Ed.’s curriculum, Ms. Wong-Kam feels that Punahou students have been given the “tools and terms” to become more engaged in their behavior and their learning process. Through yoga, students have been given “another way for kids to be in charge of their bodies and their behaviors.” By learning self-awareness and self-regulation, students can better tune in to how they are feeling, thinking and acting. Then, by tapping into the tools they’ve learned in yoga class, they can redirect their energy in ways that are more positive and productive.
Yoga Ed. Supports Punahou Teachers
Ms. Wong-Kam’s staff were already turning to mindfulness and breathing techniques with their students, so to better support their initiatives, she sought Yoga Ed. as a way to expand upon their teaching toolset. Through the yoga, teachers have learned new measures for classroom management that aren’t as punitive as more traditional methods. Because students learn self-awareness and self-regulation, teachers are now able to empower them to take a greater role in managing their own behavior. Plus, through yoga brain breaks, kids and teachers have more opportunities to get moving, relieve stress, and refocus.
According to Peter Balding, a P.E. teacher at Punahou, Yoga Ed. programming has not only strengthened the curriculum and supported his students’ growth and development, but has enhanced his teaching and classroom management skills, as well.
Peter is now more aware of how he presents himself to his students, and has learned that coming to the class with a patient, quiet demeanor helps him approach kids on their level, resulting in a more engaged interaction and productive class time.
Having the capacity to be able to incorporate the yoga with continuity — regularly bringing yoga to the kids–has allowed Ms. Wong-Kam’s teachers to commit to and engage with the yoga as well. As the teachers start to embrace and embody the work, there is more opportunity for students to mirror their behavior, leading to change on a larger scale at the school.