MINDFULNESS: Why Mindfulness Is Important For Teachers, too!

We've all read the research about why mindfulness benefits students, but can it help teachers as well? Photo by Lesly Juarez.

We've all read the research about why mindfulness benefits students, but can it help teachers as well? Photo by Lesly Juarez.

Mindfulness in Schools. There has been so much research and enthusiasm for mindfulness being used in schools with students to support positive behavior and even academic performance. I LOVE this! I spent years working on my class environment and seeking the perfect seating arrangements so my students wouldn’t be distracted by each other and our classroom. But, I didn’t teach them how to focus. This is what mindfulness can do for students.

But, we can’t give our students what we don’t have. We must cultivate our own mindfulness practice and I have a two tips below (plus a full report packed with resources and ideas you can access below).

As teachers, you and I face a variety of stressors. Along with the desire to mold and shape the minds of our students, we encounter many of the following pressures:

·       the daily demands of the classroom

·       the periodic demands of standardized testing

·       the performance expectations of families and administrators

·       the time-consuming demands of teacher-homework (grading papers, preparing tests, etc)

This almost constant pressure to educate and advocate for students, while satisfying families and school administrators, easily creates stress and fatigue. It’s important that we find ways to manage – or better yet, prevent – the pressures and anxieties that too often go hand-in-hand with teaching. The practice of mindfulness is an excellent way to find the relief we need and deserve. This duo of simple mindfulness strategies can help.

1.     Create A Mindfulness Location Before You Reach Your Classroom
Right before your first cup of coffee/tea, the parking lot, the teacher’s lounge – commit to a short mindfulness meditation at the start of each day. These locations, just before you enter your busy day, are the ideal places to center your thoughts, focus your breathing, and encourage your spirit.

2.     Create A Mindfulness Focus In Your Classroom
Designate an object on your desk, a letter on your bulletin board, or even your classroom clock as a focal point. As a stressful moment begins to take a grip on you, or as you’re in the midst of one, look to your focal point and start noticing your breathing pattern. Don’t necessary attempt to adjust it, just be mindful of it until it naturally falls into a calm, soothing rhythm.

Mindfulness Meditation: Start by sitting in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Concentrate on the rise and fall of your rib cage and the pattern of your breaths as you breathe in through your mouth and out through your nostrils. Beginners may want to count breaths. Try breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 4 seconds, and breathing out for 4 seconds. It helps your mind home in on your breathing and tune out any distractions. Conclude with an affirmation, such as, “I am calm and at peace. My students and I are already successful today.”

Start with two minutes and increase the length of each meditation interval over time and depending upon how much time you have at any given mindful moment. Be sure to conclude with the affirmation. You’ll feel better and your students will respond better when you’re centered, focused and in a place of peace from the inside out.

BONUS TIP: For a FREE and fantastic 7-day meditation course, try this email course from Kimberly Snyder (my go-to wellness expert). For 7-days, you will get a short email with some tips, encouragement, and a short meditation. I loved it and it got me off to a great start with meditation.

Rachel Hallquist