A few months ago I began taking online mindfulness courses offered by Mindful Schools. These courses have positively influenced how I interact with others and how I manage my classroom. I feel noticeably less stressed and am better equipped to handle challenges that normally would have ruined my day in the past. I feel more peace in my relationships with my partner, my colleagues, and my students. I really wish I knew about these courses years ago when I first began my teaching career!!
I was given the opportunity to lead a professional development session about mindfulness to about half of our teaching staff when school began in August. I received a lot of supportive feedback and have since received a lot of questions from colleagues asking for tips or tricks to better incorporate mindfulness in their classrooms. So, to honor my own desire to be a more consistent blogger and to honor my colleagues’ requests for assistance, I am going to post one mindfulness strategy per week for the month of October. October can be an especially difficult month for teachers because it is usually the longest month of the fall semester and not every school gets “Columbus Day” of “Fall Fair Day” off.
I hope these strategies prove to be beneficial, and I welcome any feedback you might have.
Mindfulness helps to create more awareness to the present moment. In order to be more aware this week, practice the following strategies:
- Take a deep breath. Pay attention to where you draw your breath from and where you feel it the most. Is it your stomach? Your chest? Your nose? Your mouth? Wherever it is strongest for you, consider this place the anchor of your breath.
- As you go through your week, take time to just notice how your body physiologically reacts to difficult feelings like anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, and so on. Does your face get hot? Does your heart rate increase? Do your shoulders tense? Do your eyes start to water or begin to scowl? Do you have the urge to immediately lash out? Do you immediately begin to raise your voice? Consider writing how your body reacts down on a notepad or in a journal.
- As the week continues, when you notice these difficult feelings and reactions taking place, pause and focus on the anchor for your breath. Breathe. Then decide how you will respond to the difficult feeling instead of reacting to it. In your classroom, your response might look like deciding not to yell at a class that still hasn’t followed your instructions. Maybe you calmly talk to them and tell them what you are feeling (anger, frustration, impatience), and ask for them to try again. Outside of class, your response might look like deciding not to honk at every unskilled driver that cuts you off in traffic. Maybe you notice your body starting to tighten so you return to your breath, breathe, and just continue driving. **Please know mindfulness does not excuse inappropriate behavior or disrespectful actions. It simply creates the space to allow you to think about how you will respond instead of impulsively reacting (or overreacting) to difficult situations, so that you can be more present and experience more peace.