Some of the main areas of concerns regarding planning and preparation (Domain 1) as outlined by the Danielson Framework for Teaching consists of demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy, demonstrating knowledge of students, setting instructional outcomes, demonstrating knowledge of resources, designing coherent instruction, and designing student assessment. Some of the main overlapping themes that are found throughout this domain include engagement, clear focus, intent, outcomes, relationships, choice, high-level thinking, reflection, decision-making, and awareness, which can be positively influenced by the practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness, in terms of bringing more attention and focus to our surroundings and self, supports a higher quality of recognition, acceptance, investigation, and detachment (non-judgement), which can improve overall planning and preparation. For example, the practice of awareness and observation allows a teacher an ongoing method to help assess skill levels of students that can impact instruction accordingly. This also is connected to mindfulness theory, in terms of increasing the natural tendency or ability to produce and seek new ways of looking at students and the situations. This also supports the activity of engagement and flexibility by enhancing the recognition of multiple perspectives of reality and continual re-evaluation of the environment. Therefore, a teacher can provide multiple options and choices to meet individual student learning needs and even encourage the students to be more aware of, or reflect on their own needs, and allow them to make better independent choices.
Even the best made plans and mounds of preparation can have its issues. No one can prepare or plan for everything, but being open, aware, and flexible will enhance the probability of success in all situations. The practice of mindfulness allows teachers to systematically observe themselves, students, and the classroom to cultivate higher thinking skills and help students negotiate their own learning. For example, a teacher starts a very detailed and passionate lesson and after only a few minutes… things fall apart. Obviously, first the teacher needs to be aware of the struggles, issues, or problems. Non-judgmental detachment and awareness could increase the probability of noticing the issue earlier by increasing observational input such as subtle body language, facial expressions, self sensations (breath, temperature, blood pressure), to help suspend emotions so not to react negatively. These observations would also help bring in multiple perspectives and depict a better understanding and acceptance of the situation and students to elicit a positive response and support all learners. Furthermore, this connects to being flexible and re-evaluating self, students, and the classroom to help engage all students, therefore supporting an ability to put more space in-between thoughts and actions to better respond, regardless the plan and amount of preparation.
The PAUSE technique is designed to address the above and help teachers negotiate frustrating situations concerning planning, preparation, teaching, and learning. Thus, this technique gives a teacher a tool and system to step back, evaluate, and reflect on personal thoughts and intent. It also helps bring clarity and focus of awareness to all relationships by taking in as many perspectives as possible through a detached lens, leading to higher-level thinking, better decision-making, and outcomes. Finally, it promotes empathic and compassionate engagement where all students can learn and achieve, while at the same time incorporating best practices connected to (Domain 1) planning and preparation.
More Mindful Planning Suggestions
- Always expect and do your best. Think good thoughts and good things will happen. A positive attitude will move mountains even when dealing with or anticipating possible problematic situations. The law of attraction will prevail.
- Understand everyone is trying to do their best, including students (aligning their needs and behave accordingly). Be accepting of everyone.
- Don’t jump to conclusions without proof (actions, words, sensations). Seek information and details. Bring in more awareness and lose some ego/control.
- Look and feel things from every conceivable perspective and angle (put yourself in the other person’s shoes).
- Detach your emotions. Be aware of how you feel and try not to act on emotions alone.
- Take your time and think. No reason to rush anything worthwhile.
- Take a minute to reflect. Sit in silence, observe breath, and sensations in the body.
- Don’t feel that every question, situation, problem, or person needs a response or action. Use the phrase “Is that so…” or “You don’t say…” if you must respond. Sometime silence is the best answer. If a comment or action is not constructive or helpful… it probably is not needed.
- Plan and prepare through observation and be flexible. Everything is always changing.
Change the way you think and everything will change.