For those of you who are teachers or have experienced teaching in the classroom before, I salute you!
For those of you who have not, imagine you need to do presentations for 5-6 hours a day that engage all 20-30 participants 100% of the time. In addition to simultaneously taking care of paperwork, emails, phone calls, and emotional crises (among other things)… EVERY. WORK. DAY.
Before you start to “…but summers off…” me, please consider when exactly you would plan for your 5-6 hour daily presentations for 180 days of the year. Can you plan for a future presentation while engaging all participants in the current one? No. No you cannot. So when is it done? During “time off” of course – after school hours and weekends and holiday breaks.
Even though every classroom can benefit from mindfulness, few teachers have extra time available to plan beyond what is required.
Mindfulness is being in the present moment with a calm mind.
Imagine if teachers could receive the gift of a calm mind amidst the often chaotic environment present in schools. They would then be able to share that gift with their students. Students with a calm mind are able to make more thoughtful, empowered decisions while also experiencing a better ability to focus and retain important information.
But we cannot give what we do not have. If I have $5 cash in my pocket and you need $20, I cannot give you what you need.
If we do not give teachers access to techniques and resources that help them practice mindfulness, they will not be able to share that with their students.
So if you are a teacher (thank you for all you do!), or know a teacher (please share this with them!) —
Here are 3 easy ways to bring mindfulness into the classroom today!
1. Deep Breath First
While the list of what we cannot control is mind-boggling (the weather, traffic, other people’s perceptions/actions/thoughts, etc), we are always able to control how deeply we choose to inhale and how slowly we choose to exhale.
Teachers can choose to model “Deep Breath First” to their students before learning a new topic, before tackling the next problem or assignment together, before entering or coming out of a transition (such as classroom change or task change)
- To your students, you can say “When I take a deep breath, it makes me feel more calm. Before we _____, you can choose to take a deep breath with me first.”
- To help them, you can hold up your hand and count with your fingers 1, 2, 3 as you inhale and then lower the fingers 3, 2, 1 as you exhale (or count back and up from 4)
It doesn’t take much time – especially when it becomes part of your routine, but it does have a big impact on everyone. Modeling this mindful behavior is reminding your students that throughout the day they can use their breath as the helpful “bring you back to the present moment” tool that it is.
2. Gratitude Shift
When we are frustrated, overwhelmed, or tired, it can be hard to snap out of it. This next mindfulness practice helps our minds be more calm by at least temporarily shifting focus to something that you feel good about in the given moment. Gratitude shifts are helpful because “trying on” a different focus – even for 1-2 minutes – can have a long-lasting, positive impact on your mood and experience.
When you or the students are starting to feel that overworked and exhausted, you can try something that feels better. You can choose to announce a pause in what you are doing in favor of a 2 minute gratitude shift.
- Start by sharing something you are grateful for, and how it makes you feel good to think of it. It could be as simple as how you are enjoying using your favorite pen, as broad as your family, or even the weather outside at the moment. If you are grateful for your students, even amidst a challenging moment/day, you can tell them that. It always feels good to know someone appreciates you.
- Next, ask for other volunteers to share something they are grateful for.
- Once the other students hear their peers sharing gratitudes, more and more get in the spirit. When I am doing this I like to affirm how good of an answer they gave, and if it applies – either repeat it and say, for example: “grateful for your friends?! I love that! It is so nice to have people you can trust. I am grateful for my friends too!” Or “that’s awesome! Thank you for sharing what you are grateful for”
The first time you might use closer to 5 minutes, but afterwards the students tend to jump in more quickly. Giving up that 2-5 minutes can seem like a lot on paper when there are so many lessons that need to get done, but it is well worth it to give yourselves and your students the gift of more present, calmer, grateful minds when you get back to work.
3. The Mindfulness Series
After using these and various other techniques in my own classroom, I shifted from teaching math to starting my own business teaching mindfulness and yoga to teachers and students. The response has been so positive, I packaged my best techniques into quick, simple, accessible, ready-to-use videos for the classroom.
The series is especially for teachers who want to bring in more peace of mind into their classrooms, but do not have the time/energy/resources to research when and how to do so. This is the perfect quick fix – a video full of accessible mindfulness techniques that can be played anytime!
- The first video is available instantly, for free, just by entering your name and email below. It is all about mindfulness during changes, and is especially helpful for those times where there is a big change or crisis happening – anywhere from globally, or locally in your community, or even within your own classroom.
- The video takes students through 4 steps they can take to go from Upset to Reset. There is no shortage of upsetting things happening in the world, and our students notice and are affected by them. The techniques in the video empower students by giving them tools to help themselves reset and continue with their day.
- If you are interested in getting your school and district on board with investing in the entire series, you can invite your administrators to look here for a look at all that comes with it (such as 6 additional mindfulness in the classroom videos and guided sheets!)
Every classroom deserves mindfulness! Please share this with an educator – or anyone – who you think would enjoy trying some simple mindfulness techniques.
Now, over to you: What are your favorite ways to bring mindfulness to the classroom? Leave a comment below – I (like most teachers I know) am always looking to add options to my tool box.
And then enter your name and email below to instantly access the first video in The MIndfulness Series for FREE!