Mindfulness in the classroom
by Judianne Jayme
We live in a world where the only thing consistent is the rapid amount of change that occurs in our immediate and larger surroundings. We have high-speed cars, high-speed Internet at our fingertips, and a network of information that we can readily access at any given time. Advertisements on YouTube allow you to “Skip Ad” after 10 seconds, the average time spent on most commercials found on television. This means that we push our minds to move at faster speeds (10-second turnover rates) – processing information faster than the generation before us. In all this processing, it’s easy to burn out.
In a regular classroom, any educator also knows that as much as kids’ brains are developing and making neural connections, we are also in competition for their attention. Even without a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the daily barrage of social media networks, billboards, advertisements, YouTube videos, games, and television shows are enough to encourage young brains to seek new stimuli every ten seconds. How does an educator keep up?
I choose to practice mindfulness in my classrooms. There’s a series of professional development workshops in many divisions regarding mindfulness – practices that cultivate deepened awareness, concentration, and insight.
This can be as simple as ringing a chime and having students concentrate on waiting for the very last second they hear the sound. I also have a homemade snowglobe-esque type of Mason jar filled with different coloured glitter. Students know that when they need a break, or need to calm down, they can come to the standing desk, shake the jar, and take deep breaths while they wait for all the glitter to settle. I have found that this, in particular, has worked wonders for myself as well! Once the glitter settles, students are usually ready to return to their task or their group, or to have an important conversation. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we take control of our brain through mindfulness.
Parent tip: Slow down!
We are always rushed. My advice for this week is to allow time to slow down. That could mean doing a peaceful activities such as reading together, doing some meditation or yoga, etc., as a family. These two activities mentioned are simple to do yet encourage healthy lifestyle choices – an appreciation for literature, along with an appreciation for mental and physical health. Whatever you choose to do, promote concentration and awareness using positive activities, and support and lead your children through the process.
Judianne Jayme is an educator teaching sixth grade and a division-wide mentor in the Winnipeg School Division.