About these presentations...
Jeff Tunkey teaches both Physical Education and Extra Lesson at Aurora Waldorf School, near Buffalo, NY, and is the school’s Educational Support Team Coordinator. He has also taught teacher groups through the Association for a Healing Education, the HEART Program in Toronto, and at other schools. Other background:
• 19 years of teaching at Aurora Waldorf School; former Board president, Faculty Chair, Leadership Circle facilitator.
• Graduate of the Spacial Dynamics 5-year Inservice training
For additional information about seminars and workshops, or to inquire about telephone or personal consultation, please email
To stand in front of students, parents and colleagues as a Waldorf educator is to take on a responsibility for a never-finished journey of research, professional development, and–especially–self-development. For newer teachers, the goal of penetrating the basis of Rudolf Steiner’s pedagogy can only seem formidable, at best. In “The Spiritual Ground of Education", Steiner stated the following:
“Each child in every age brings something new into the world from divine regions, and it is our task as educators to remove bodily and psychical obstacles out of its way; to remove hindrances so that his spirit may enter in full freedom into life. ... If we realize the full import of this we shall say to ourselves: the main task of the teacher or educator is to bring up the body to be as healthy as it possibly can be; this means, to use every spiritual measure to ensure that in later life a man's body shall give the least possible hindrance to the will of his spirit. If we make this our purpose in school we can develop the powers which lead to an education for freedom.”
Thus, helping children accomplish the developmental stages of growth is fundamental to our curriculum, and we know that curriculum subjects are taught when the neurological and inner life of the child can meet the task at hand. To reach this ideal however, all children (including those who are thriving in basic academics) need environments and activities that allow them to grow in a healthy way, strengthen capacities, and become confident in a variety of tasks. When they have developed through the basic stages of growth and have healthy organic processes, then they are more able to fulfill the tasks on their life’s journey and begin to recognize the gifts of others.
Fortunately when we delve into the educational writings of Dr. Steiner, we find many practical suggestions to inspire us as teachers. And in the decades since his time, a number of innovative educators–including Audrey McAllen, the founder of the Extra Lesson– have also developed movement, drawing and painting exercises consistent with his indications. From these sources, we can find a repertoire of exercises designed, for instance, to promote alignment with the currents of the earth, to nourish the twelve senses, to help regulate breathing, to strengthen balance, and so on.
These activities should be standard practices in our classrooms–and not just for a few children–because they strengthen every child. By weaving into the life of the school, an understanding of these foundations and a shared palette of capacity-strengthening lessons, we can experience an enrichment of the educational journey of all the children who come to us.
Availability and Rates for the 2016-2017 School Year
I'm available for observation, teacher workshop days, and parent talks. For a list of Waldorf Schools I've visited within the past two years, please contact me. Rates for next year are as follows; adjustments can be made if a visit includes a combination of events or tasks.
One-day workshop: $600
Evening talk: $250
Teacher observation and report (per day): $400
Travel to/from: $200 per travel day, plus travel expense; lodging to be determined.
A Lecture for Parent Groups
Strengthening Academic Capacities through Movement
(“Every Child Moves Forward”)
In seating a student behind a desk, we as teachers and parents are hoping or expecting that the child is ready, or soon will become ready, for the year’s classroom tasks and academic presentations. In Waldorf schools, we strive to provide a curriculum progression based on age-appropriate physiological and emotional stages of receptivity and capacity.
But realistically, every child will struggle with some aspect of the school environment. For instance, in the early grades, it might be a challenge to sit in balance on a chair, or to listen quietly, or to muster the fine motor skills for writing; by middle school, competition from the feeling life can hijack learning at almost any moment.
Both a growing body of modern research and the foundations of Waldorf Education point to the fact that a balanced, school-wide movement program will help all students reach their full potential. In Waldorf schools, we are fortunate to have an “extra toolbox” of movement, drawing and painting exercises to provide developmental support for individual students and for all classes every day.
Experience has shown that classes of students, from early childhood through high school, who receive these activities are able to move ahead more solidly. Benefits of these exercises – if done regularly and with the indicated rhythm – include: