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Click above to listen to this podcast episode. Below is the transcript for Student-Centered World Podcast Episode 30: “Teacher Mindfulness Options“
Welcome, welcome friends to another episode of the Student-Centered World podcast. I hope you are feeling calm this morning but if you are not, today’s podcast episode might be just what you are looking for. We’re going to be taking a look today at mindfulness.
Now mindfulness is something that I think is extremely beneficial. But there are a lot of people that roll their eyes and say, “oh, my goodness; what is the benefit of that? It’s just another one of those things out there that they want us to do or want us to learn about”. But there are a lot of huge benefits from it for each person individually and we’re going to go over a little bit of that today.
Welcome to the Student-Centered World podcast where we talk about all things hands-on teaching and keeping your energy and sanity in the classroom. This teacher turned consultant is making it her mission to help as many teachers as possible become the best version of themselves and keep their passion for teaching on fire. It’s her hope that we never forget why we desire to have a passion for educational progress. This is Student-Centered World, and this is Jenn Breisacher.
When it comes to this concept of mindfulness, a lot of people think that it is just another buzzword in education or even in life right now. But that really couldn’t be further from the case. So, to define mindfulness, it’s just being very aware of what is going on both around you and within you at the same time. So, when a lot of people hear this concept, it’s like an eye roll and very hippy-dippy. It’s a term that my husband so endearingly uses for me so often about so many different things but it’s really helpful.
So, if you have an Apple Watch, for instance, anytime that it notices that you might be getting a little bit stressed out, all of a sudden, you get a ding, and it tells you that you need to breathe. It’s kind of helping you hone back in on the fact of, you’re letting your body get away from you a little bit and we’re in charge of our body, we’re in charge of our own person.
But so often, especially when you’re teaching, we get rid of the thoughts of ourselves, because we’re so worried about taking care of others and making sure that other’s needs are being met. But I’ve said a million times before that you can’t pour from an empty cup.
So, this idea that you have to give, give, give all the time is going to deplete your own stores and make it so you are not as effective as a teacher, as a person, as a spouse, or a friend, or a child or a parent, because you’re giving too much of yourself to this cause. So, one of the pieces of the practice of mindfulness is being able to bring yourself back into the moment and give yourself some clarity and talk yourself through whatever the situation may be.
Now, this can be easily done in the morning, when you first wake up as a preparation. It can be done in the evenings to help you wind down. It can be done in the moment if you need to. There’s so much information out there about mindfulness and the power of it and just simple little things that you can do to help bring yourself back in. So, what I actually did was chat with one of my former coworkers, Barbara Tzraska who is trained in mindfulness.
She came up with a little morning mindfulness meditation, specifically for teachers of just something that you can listen to when you first wake up in the morning, before you go into school, maybe as you’re driving into school to just take some deep breaths and think about what your purpose is. I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to put that on here so you can listen to it so you can understand the concept of what it is that you are trying to achieve with this mindfulness.
“Breathe in, breathe out by Barbara Trzaska.
Today, I am prepared and ready for this amazing day of teaching. Students and parents are prepared, ready, and looking forward to a new lesson. Breathe in, breathe out.
I know that everything is flowing in its most perfect way that all circumstances are for the growth and development of all people involved students, parents, administrators, and myself. Breathe in, breathe out.
I believe that a calm gentle attitude is predominantly present in today’s communication. Words are clear, precise, and in perfect order. The technology is functioning beautifully. Breathe in, breathe out.
The lessons are conducted easily, effortlessly, smoothly, and under grace. Breathe in, breathe out.
I am proud to be a teacher in this moment in time. I am touching gracefully the lives of so many people and sharing my gifts with others. Breathe in, breathe out.
I am joyous and happy that I am able to stretch my abilities to meet the circumstances of the present time. I know what to do in emergencies, I am in the flow. Breathe in, breathe out.
Let the day begin. Breathe in, breathe out.”
So, if you did go along with that, you probably feel a sense of like relief right now. Just a little bit calmer, your heart rate is just a little bit less and you’re a little bit more in tune with what it is that your purpose is. Again, that is the whole point around mindfulness. It’s not some hippy voodoo magic if you will. It’s being able to understand what’s going on within your body and what’s going on without.
There’s so much data out there, even if you take it away from the educational standpoint of people that are athletes, or actors, or people in extremely stressful jobs situations that use mindfulness practices, either on a short-term throughout the day, or maybe something a little bit longer that helps them stay focused, that helps them keep that center and allows them to perform their job at a very, very high level consistently.
Teacher Mindfulness Options
When considering teacher mindfulness options, it is important to remember that teachers can make small changes in their classrooms and practices to promote greater attention, better listening skills, and enhanced awareness of the needs of their students.
These changes can help form a foundation for the further development of classroom and teacher mindfulness strategies. For example, a teacher can listen carefully with full attention when a student is speaking with the goal of fully comprehending what the student is saying. This type of listening behavior can be practiced and cultivated by all teachers in their classrooms and could help lay a foundation for future work that would engage students in activities that develop concentration and awareness skills.
Teachers can also practice mindfulness strategies when they prepare to teach a lesson or when they plan for student learning activities. This type of teacher mindfulness can help educators develop a deeper understanding of their students and greater awareness of the factors that motivate different types of learners.
Teachers who do this work may also find that they are more interested in new ways to learn about how their students think, feel, and respond to various teaching methods and lesson content. This will help teachers develop more effective teaching strategies and lesson plans for future use in their classrooms.
Being Mindful of Students
Mindfulness is sometimes described as an intense form of focused attention that allows the mind to be fully present in all interactions with others, whether in person or online. To be mindful means that people pay attention to their thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judging them as right or wrong. It is sometimes described as a mental state of being grounded in the present moment with open curiosity about how events are affecting you.
Because mindfulness encourages people to pay attention to what is happening, both inside themselves and outside themselves, it can help teachers recognize any distractions that may be taking their attention away from their interactions with students. Teacher mindfulness can also help educators focus on the needs of individual students and how their personalities, temperaments, and social needs may be affecting their work in class.
By cultivating a mindful approach to teaching or learning, teachers can better understand what types of interactions with students bring out the best in both the teacher and student. While some instructional strategies intertwined with teacher mindfulness have been shown to improve academic performance and classroom discipline, there is still much to learn about how mindfulness can be integrated into the learning process in order to optimize student outcomes.
People who are mindful may find that they have a heightened awareness of changes in their emotions, thoughts, and physical states. This can help people stay calm and focused when interacting with others. In the classroom, this type of increased awareness might help teachers who have a tendency to misread their students’ emotional states.
Being mindful of the needs and temperaments of individual students can help teachers focus on different learning approaches to get the best results for each student.
Teacher Mindfulness Training & Practice Tips
Teacher mindfulness training in the classroom may want to focus on specific strategies that can help them maintain a calm and focused approach to their interactions with students. For example, teachers might find it useful to experiment with different breathing techniques or paying attention to physical states that affect how they act around others.
Some studies suggest that practicing yoga and meditation in the morning before school — particularly if this is done for 30 minutes or more — may help students and teachers experience less stress during their day. This type of mindfulness training can be both relaxing and invigorating, which can help people stay focused when it comes time to plan lessons or interact with students.
When taking part in teacher mindfulness practices, it is helpful to set aside specific times during the day when only focused attention will be practiced. This can help people establish a routine that helps them focus their emotions and thought patterns before walking into the classroom at the beginning of each day.
That is something that I think as teachers, we need to not only be a part of but also start teaching our students how to do it as well because data also shows that the students who are able to find their center to be able to control their thoughts a little bit help them control their actions. It’s a big snowball of positivity when we teach our students how to react to emotions, and what to do in certain situations.
There’s so much that surrounds that and that’s actually something that’s going to be coming up within the next few weeks, not to be a spoiler alert, but just some stuff that we’re going to be taking a look at.
So, I hope you’re able to get something out of that. But you can reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, on Instagram and Facebook. But I hope that this just a little bit help understanding what the process of mindfulness is and the benefits of that.
I encourage you if you’re at least a little bit intrigued to go out and do a little bit of research and see the big name people that take part in this and believe in it and realize that it really does help you calm and focus on all of the things that we really need to be doing as teachers in the classroom. So, on that note, I hope you’re feeling a little bit lighter and I will see you again soon.
Teacher Mindfulness and the 4 Keys
We know we are much happier and more grounded when our students are doing what we hope of them in the classroom. Having this be a regular occurrence in our classrooms isn’t difficult; it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement.
There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.
If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.