Last week I got to visit two new classrooms and share the power of mindfulness. I started Tuesday morning in a multiage 3/4 classroom where we started our journey by practicing the mindfulness of sound. As a high school teacher it was such a different experience to work with 9 and 10 year olds. Unlike high school students who are often skeptical, my elementary friends are more open to diving into a new experience and are just thrilled to have a visitor to their classroom. They have been practicing over the last week and I look forward to see their growth when I visit again tomorrow to practice mindful breathing.
Later that Tuesday afternoon I was visiting a sophomore writing class who was preparing to begin the research paper process. The teacher had mentioned that students seem to struggle with extended work time more and more each year and was hoping mindfulness could help with sustained attention. The good news is that research is showing that it does. My approach with adolescents always begins with relevance and a little neuroscience before we get to an exercise. This is actually totally normal for this age group. They need to know how it will impact their life and proof that it works. After sharing this important information we did an exercise known as the 10 second count. The exercise really does two important things. It makes you aware that you have lost focus and then helps you refocus on the present moment. The following day my colleague did the exercise again with her students at the beginning of the period and sent me a note saying, “I am seeing the results already and am so excited to have an actual strategy for them to use to refocus.” However, we also learned that if you don’t continue the practice it does lose its effectiveness. Habits do take at least 21 days to form!
Two different classrooms with two different groups of students. Two different experiences but both empowering young people to be self-aware so that they can maximize their potential. I am lucky to be doing such work!
Challenge for the week: Read an article on mindfulness and contemplate how it might help you and/or your students.