This is a guest post by Johanna Cider, an Educator and Freelance Writer from Wellington, New Zealand.
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How to Cultivate Mindfulness in the Classroom
For teachers as much as for students, the classroom can be a stressful place. It’s supposed to be a hive of learning, and yet distractions can abound, and interruptions can totally overwhelm our individual sense of calm. So just how can you make sure that you and the rest of the class remain mindful and conscious amidst the fray?
If you’re struggling to maintain emotional equilibrium when students misbehave or when your own preoccupations threaten to get in the way, then read up. These simple tips for practicing mindfulness in the classroom should equip you with precisely the coping mechanisms you need to regain a sense of calm.
- When you break, do it with passion!
A break is called a break for a reason! And especially since they come so far and few between for us educators, it’s vital that when the bell rings for morning tea or lunch, we really commit that 15 or 30 minutes to recharging our batteries proper. Take time to head outside or find a comfy spot indoors if the weather is looking wild – that means putting phones and other devices away, steering clear of any other type of screen, and dedicating some you-time to just resting.
Don’t think about how little time you have to go when you begin a break, because that mindset will just make the minutes tick over faster. Instead, start your break in leisurely style, and focus on planting your feet firmly within each minute that you’ve got to work with. You’d be amazed how much you can slow down time simply by putting your mind to it.
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- Pay attention to each sensation
Our five senses are true gifts, and each one is designed to connect us more strongly to the outside world. Even during class time, you can train your brain to focus in on these sensory experiences during a lull in activity or a pause in discussion, so that you don’t just float through your teaching hours feeling disembodied.
The sensations you might focus on can be as simple as the feeling of cold water running down your throat, or the glorious sensation of soft grass under your toes as you supervise a sports game on the school field (the literal meaning of “feeling the ground beneath your feet”!).
- Practice patience with yourself and others
Both for students and their teachers, patience is a true virtue in the classroom setting. often, it’s often the only thing standing between self-management and the odd outburst! Patience means stopping and thinking so that you can truly absorb the situation or interaction at hand, and so make a reasoned decision about how to proceed. Patience allows teachers to evaluate issues calmly and with attention only to the immediately-relevant circumstances (rather than to the worst-case scenarios we tend to foresee in our heads).
Imagine yourself as a tree with thick roots, standing immovable while a storm assaults you. What do you do? You stay standing – and gather all your intellectual resources to respond like the master of mindfulness that you are.
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- Plan some quiet time into your days
Spend a few minutes per day for quiet time – and if possible, combine that silent time with gratitude practice. You might keep a thankfulness journal and write down all the things that you’re grateful for, or perhaps you just want to keep track of how you’re feeling each day. Whatever the mechanism, these moments of reflection encourage us to press “pause” on our lives and capture a snapshot of ourselves at a particular period in time.
You might even incorporate reflection into your lesson structure. By inaugurating the habit of a ‘mindfulness moment’ at the start of every class – in which everyone spends five minutes writing down what they’re thankful for – you’ll be bringing mindfulness into everyone’s orbit.
Johanna is a voracious reader who especially enjoys mystery and crime fiction. She also likes writing down her thoughts in her diary. To know more about Johanna, you can easily connect with her on Tumblr.