And the Movement Begins

A couple of blogs ago I talked about presenting my learning on mindfulness in the classroom to my colleagues.  Shortly after that I had one of those colleagues, Jennifer, who is teaching her students about executive functions (paying attention, organizing and planning, initiating tasks and staying focused, regulating emotions, and self-monitoring) approach me about visiting her classroom to share a mindfulness exercise.  I can’t tell you how excited I was when she asked!  She was currently working with students on regulating emotions and felt, based on what I had shared, that mindfulness would be a good fit.

We set up a time to collaborate.  Collaboration is such a great thing, people share their knowledge with each other to create something greater than if you were to do it alone.  I was learning from Jennifer and she was learning from me.  The product would be one that could empower our students.  Awesome!  We decided that I would do a small piece on brain education and then I would explain what mindfulness was followed by providing an experience called anchor breathing.  While I knew it was a good exercise after having done it with my own class I was a little nervous because these were not “my” students.  I had not spent a semester building relational capacity with them.  Would Jennifer’s students be open to the experience?

After creating a plan which included some of the new material from my Mindfulness Fundamentals course, meeting again with Jennifer for feedback, and running through the lesson in my head multiple times the day arrived.  Honestly, I was kind of nervous but Jennifer’s students trusted me and became a receptive audience (pictured below is me leading the mindfulness session).  After the lesson I asked students to reflect individually on the experience and how they could see themselves using anchor breathing outside of the class.  Later that week Jennifer shared the students’ responses with me.  Here are a few things they said:

“Anchor breathing would be great to use before a test, a competition like wrestling, or before a job interview. It will help you relax and focus. The most important thing I learned from the  mindfulness activity was how to do anchor breathing, I just used it during a test today and it worked great.”

“Use it before tests, I think that because some tests get you so stressed out that just breathing and clearing your mind could help you.  I felt a little relieved (after the exercise) and had time to think about what I was going to do for the week and catch up on things. Thanks for showing me something so simple, it works.”
“The most important thing I learned from the mindfulness activity was to let thoughts come but then let them disappear on a leaf in a river kind of form so you don’t stress about something or think about something too long.  Thank you for showing me this because I will resort back to it in times of need like I did then.”
“I think that this was a great activity and that we should try and incorporate it before big major tests in all our classes.”
If you have read my previous blogs are you starting to see a trend?!  Mindfulness works and it doesn’t take long to realize it!  I met with Jennifer at the end of the week to get her feedback.  We talked about what she thought went really well and she suggested a few changes for the next time I might do this piece.  I asked her how she felt about the experience and she responded, “It was truly empowering to see what the executive function awareness of emotional control and the mindfulness information and strategy can do for all our students.  We will definitely put this into my academic classes at the end of April/early May.”
In my next blog I will share how students continue to use mindfulness months after learning about it in my class!



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