She found a receptive ear.
“I have one in my office that I use occasionally, especially if I’m sitting a lot,” Yoder said. “When I had some back issues a few years back, it helped with rehab by engaging those muscles.
“I appreciate Collette’s courage in trying this out with the whole class.”
With a green light from the principal, Haslett first borrowed a few yoga balls from people she knew so students could try them.
“They took turns each day and the kids loved it,” she said.
Haslett then purchased 21 balls. Half of the money came from her own classroom fund, and the other half from a school fund Yoder had identified.
Once the balls were home, she and husband Jeff, and their two young sons, inflated them. Each ball comes with a foot pump, but that proved to be a physical challenge with so many balls to fill.
“Luckily, we had an electric pump at home and used that to air up most of them,” she said with a smile.
Haslett said she likes what she has observed in these first few days.
“It really has been good for us so far,” she said. “Some kids have had trouble sitting still, so I do allow them to bounce a little bit. They have to keep their feet flat on the floor and they cannot bring their bottom off of the ball.
“They can bounce a little bit, and some of them kind of move side to side. But they seem to enjoy it.”
The yoga balls have all but eliminated a couple of bad classroom habits.
“Typically in class, when we had chairs, I wouldn’t let them lay their head down (on their desk), but some would try,” Haslett said. “That has stopped completely because it’s really hard to do that now.”
Also, students had a tendency to tip their chairs back, and balance on the hind two legs. A few ended up on the floor.
“They can’t do that now,” Haslett said, adding that one student did fall off her yoga ball in the beginning.
“I think she did that on accident,” Haslett said. “But if they break any of the rules—if they don’t keep their feet on the floor, if they’re bouncing too much or tapping the ball—then the ball gets taken away for the day. They don’t get it back until the next day.”
Haslett said seven students lost their yoga-ball privileges the first day of the trial run. It was down to two students the next day, and then none on Day 3.
Haslett gave all her students a choice whether to use the yoga balls. Only one student declined. The rest were more than eager to participate.
“I’m looking forward to being two weeks or three weeks into this,” Haslett said about evaluating the impact. “I think it won’t be so new and exciting then. They’ll be used to it.”
Haslett plans to continue the trial run through the end of the school year. Yoder also is waiting to see what results emerge over time.
“The yoga balls in Collette’s class will be a neat experiment,” Yoder said. “Knowing how squirmy kids can be, this allows them to have some controlled movement without being disruptive.
“I’m anxious to see if they continue to prefer the balls once the newness has worn off,” he added. “It will also be interesting to hear Collette’s perspective academically and behaviorally at the end of the year.
“I could see other teachers utilizing the balls if this trial is successful.”