I was listening to a podcast on happiness this morning and I loved hearing more about mindfulness, which is something that comes up in my work a lot. I support many teachers whose classrooms span a range of abilities, backgrounds, and situations. So many of the challenges that my teachers face seem to stem from attention and engagement issues. Most of my teachers are working on how they can increase student involvement and engagement in their lessons, and yet there seems to often be an independent issue students might face: attention. So many of our students struggle with maintaining attention, especially on tasks that they may not have chosen. What can a teacher do?
As in many cases school leaders, teachers, and parents do what was done to them…force it. I remember being forced to ‘pay attention’ to things that I wasn’t interested in- who am I kidding? I still am! At this point in my life, however, I have many more skills to be successful with focusing my attention on what I ‘have’ to do. Do I still struggle with focusing on things I’m not interested in? Of course- yet having those skills make me a lot more able to do it and happier about doing so. I suspect students might benefit from these skills too.
One of the things that has supported me in maintaining focus is the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness skills help you to really focus in on what you’re doing. I can focus in a noisy room, which is a skill we’d love kids to have (especially if you’re playing with Blended Learning/Station Rotations). Taking 5-10 minute to practice your mindfulness skills can definitely make a difference in your daily life. There’s a large body of research that has studied the benefits of mindfulness. Check out some of these articles that have eduApplications: Huffington Post, APA, Harvard, KQED and one of my favorites is this article on a school that replaced detention with meditation. There are SO many more.
If you’ve noticed that your students could use some support in this area, Calm (offers an app & a website) has a program called Calm Classroom to give teachers free access to their mindfulness lessons. Here’s a Google Drawing with basic info you can share with teachers & principals. I’ve been using this fantastic resource for two months now and have already noticed positive change. I hope that you’ll be able to try it with your students (even if you try it once a week as a brain break).
Could you commit to investing this time for you & your students?