When I was an undergraduate I developed an interest in Buddhism and mindfulness meditation. Since I have become a teacher, I have always believed that mindfulness practices can serve students well and aid them in their learning and development.
I started teaching mindfulness practices to my students in 2011 after reading Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness: A Guide for Anyone Who Teaches Anything .
My initial efforts saw mixed results. Some students really took advantage of the lessons and other students seemed perplexed as to why I was stopping their regular class programming to have them watch their breath.
Throughout the years, my approach to using mindfulness in the classroom has evolved. I completed mindfulness curriculum training at mindfulschools.com, learning a greater variety of exercises and learning ways to increase student engagement. I now no longer stop class in order to engage in a mindfulness exercise. Instead, a punctuate my lessons with points about mindfulness at relevant moments. For example, in my English class we read a novel where the protagonist is sick and hungry and is given a gift of a tangerine. When my class reaches this point in the novel, I give each student a tangerine and we practice mindful eating, taking our time to enjoy and savor the tangerine as we imagine the protagonist of the story might. I also share mindfulness practices on our school trip to Washington. As we drive back to the hotel at the end of the day I ask students to close their eyes and to try to recall their whole day, from start to finish, as best they can. I find that these little exercises are appreciated by students and, even though they seem simple, can be quite challenging, as well as rewarding.
I have also led several professional development sessions for teachers who are interested in Mindfulness, which have been well received. As I continue to introduce teachers to mindfulness, I have become increasingly encouraged with the enthusiasm with which other teachers have taken up the practice. When I first started using mindfulness in 2011, it was not well known by other teachers and regarded as something strange. Now, more and more of my colleagues have taken up the practice with passion and I’m glad to see that the philosophy of mindfulness is becoming more and more infused into our lives at school.
Truly, we are all mindful people. To me it’s wonderful when we acknowledge the mindfulness that we embody and assign a value to it so that it can be cultivated and developed to its greatest potential.