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New member Super Saturday

Learning ‘how to pause’
New York Teacher
Khrystyna Vrublevska (center), a speech teacher at PS 180 in Brooklyn, stretches
Jonathan Fickies

Khrystyna Vrublevska (center), a speech teacher at PS 180 in Brooklyn, stretches into a pose during the yoga class at the Super Saturday event.

Participants work on a project with Duplo bricks during the Early Childhood LEGO
Jonathan Fickies

Participants work on a project with Duplo bricks during the Early Childhood LEGO workshop.

Teaching can be super stressful, especially for those just starting out. What better way to relieve some of that anxiety than a day devoted to health, wellness and creativity? Educators with five years or less in the classroom arrived at UFT headquarters in Manhattan on Dec. 1 for just such a “Super Saturday.”

The UFT members took part in yoga, meditation, nutrition and Zumba classes in the morning and a workshop in the afternoon on using LEGOs to stimulate creativity in students at all levels.

“The first few years of teaching can be so overwhelming,” said Karen Alford, the UFT’s vice president for elementary schools. “Teachers are constantly giving. How do you help them bring their best selves to the child?”

That question led to the creation of Super Saturday, with activities to help educators refresh and renew themselves physically and mentally. Alford said the goal was to help them learn how to achieve work-life balance through self-care that includes stretching, dancing and mindfulness meditation. A nutrition class taught them how to make a quick, healthy salad in a mason jar.

The new teachers in attendance said they took away new strategies for managing stress and ideas for jumpstarting student learning.

Milana Sokolovskaya, a speech teacher at PS 180 in Brooklyn, said she found the LEGO workshop so inspiring that she is “thinking of buying LEGOs for my school.”

Yvonne Maldonado, a paraprofessional at Brooklyn Garden Elementary School who works with special needs children, said it was her first time trying mindfulness meditation and yoga. “Sometimes it gets tough in the classroom,” she said. “I am learning how to pause for the sake of myself and the children. It’s important to take three minutes to breathe.”

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