The time has come to teach mindfulness to students. Teaching mindfulness to students can improve social and emotional skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision-making, which directly impacts classroom procedures and student behaviors. According to the Danielson framework for teaching, managing classroom procedures and student behavior (Domain 2), are critical in becoming a distinguished teacher.
Mindfulness starts with paying attention with purpose. For instance, a mindful teacher that also teaches mindfulness to students, helps them develop skills toward working with purpose and allows the class to function with clear routines and procedures. If a student is given skills to address self-awareness and self-management the students help create a smooth functioning classroom. When students monitor their own feelings, emotions, and sensations, through non-judgement, they start to play an important role in carrying out classroom procedures that does not take away from instructional time. This benefits everyone involved.
Discernibly, the complex exchange of teaching and learning is emotional. Mindfulness is a process and practice that can help teachers and students navigate those emotions with non-judgement, which also impacts social awareness and relationships. This mindfulness awareness creates an empathetic environment that appreciates individual and group differences and similarities that supports engaging all students in the classroom routines and procedures, while maintaining positive student behavior. In addition, if students are taught mindfulness skills, they are more able to self-monitor themselves to establish and perpetuate rewarding relationships and resolve interpersonal conflicts, thus positively effecting overall behavior in the classroom. Overall, mindful teachers and students more clearly follow routines and procedures that increase productivity, engagement, and learning.
Clearly communicating classroom expectations and procedures to students always improves classroom management, but a teachers ability to recognize subtle changes, based on the practice of mindfulness, can also help prevent issues or problems before they occur. For example, a teacher can objectively observe a situation and clearly give feedback and attention to a student or students that need it in order to keep the class functioning at a high level. Furthermore, the ability to be subtlety aware of themselves and surroundings allows the teacher to be more authentic and attuned to what is truly taking place in the classroom, thus being more effective. Ultimately, mindfulness contributes to being more subtlety responsive rather than overtly reactive. For example, the practice of being aware translates to active monitoring self and others with non-judgment, which also transmits respect and integrity, further leading by example, where being reactive only feeds the negative and traditional power struggles.
Fundamentally, a mindful teacher that models and teaches the above to students will also reflect overall better decision-making. Therefore, when a student makes better decisions based on self-awareness, relationships, and ethical standards, the well-being of all within the classroom and school will improve. Finally, this indirectly impacts student behavior and minimizes effort on classroom management allowing the class to function and run effectively on its own.
- Teach/Walk students through being still for 60 seconds
- Describe the endless flow of thoughts
- The uncomfortableness
- The sensations in the moment
- Walk students through a breathing exercise (just pay attention to breath)
- Use the PAUSE technique
- Pay attention to your sensations (perform a body scan)
- Encourage the use any of the above in any moment such as the beginning, middle, end of class (especially just as an uneasy situation is arrises)
- Put your attention on what you want to expand
- Minimize attention on bad behaviors
- Look for the expected, or normal, and good behaviors
- When being aware and observant, communicate and verbalize those observations to students without interpretations or judgment, especially the obvious and expected behaviors
- You lead by example, so make it count (follow the building, classroom, and your own rules, routines, and procedures; take your time, PAUSE when needed)
How do you stay mindful and teach social and emotional skills?
Do you have a personal story that relates?
My detailed story to follow soon… Maybe in June (the month of great change in education called “graduation”).