Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers. Head over there for information and links to more Slicing!
“Wait! We didn’t do mindfulness today.” A student reminds me as we are about to get started on some social studies reading.
I was at a training this morning, so my classes missed doing mindfulness. I am so happy that they missed it, that they wanted to do it. They are noticing the peace, I think. “Do you want to do it now or after the activity?” I ask
“Now!” the majority answer.
Like usual, we settle in. I ask the students to get comfortable, “Criss cross applesauce works for most people” I find myself saying (almost every day). “Your eyes are closed, my eyes are open. Settle yourselves. Be still. Begin to notice your breathing.” I look around and I see them settle. There are a few in each of my classes who still struggle with the settling part. Their legs can’t seem to stop moving for very long, or they are forcing their eyes to be shut because they really really really want to open them.
They have gotten so much better though, in the past couple of weeks. In the beginning, I had to remind myself that this wasn’t last year’s class that already knew how to do it. But the results are stunning, anecdotally, of course.
In my hour + math period, we do a minute or two of yoga and then a minute or two of mindfulness, and some days we try to take a brain break by running off some steam outside. Last week I reflected on the difference between the day that we missed the mindfulness and the day that we missed the break. The day that we missed the mindfulness was not a good day: My students struggled with keeping focused. It was then that I realized that maybe this mindfulness was better than I had thought. It’s hard to give even 2 minutes to something that isn’t directly related to academics, but these few minutes a day seem to be working.
I look around at the quiet faces of my class, and feel lucky for this moment of quiet. I know the research says that this quiet mindfulness is good for their academics, their self-regulation, their focus, and for decreasing stress and anxiety. But at this moment, I just feel grateful for the peaceful calmness we are fostering in our classroom. It feels like a gift.
Later, settling in at home, I will come across a great article on edutopia where Meena Srinivasan is talking about her book called Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom. I will read her reasons for practicing mindfulness in the classroom, and I will feel so relieved that I’m not crazy for just being grateful for the peace. I can’t wait to read her book. She says,
“Mindfulness is empowering because it helps us see that in every moment we have a choice; we can choose to be more skillful, and there are concrete strategies that can help us bring more peace, love, and joy into our lives.”