Today I guided students through a mindfulness practice including the four phrases used by Thich Nhat Hahn in his Breathing Practice.
The phrases In/Out, Deep/Slow, Calm/Ease, and Smile/Release help students to anchor themselves on their breath and highlight the progressive building of concentration and bliss that results from the practice.
Afterwards, I quizzed students on whether they could remember the second word in each pair. After doing a jig-saw reading, in which small groups were given a short commentary on each set of words to read, I asked them to create a poster for their group’s phrase.
One student chose to illustrate breathing in and out with a hamburger from In and Out Burger. When I questioned her choice, she reassured me that the burger did, in fact, breathe.
These phrases are so helpful to remember whenever one has a few moments to practice, particularly in times of stress.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s breathing exercises
Teaching is a stressful job.
We lost half of the eighth-grade teachers at my last school year. I spent the year walking the track at lunch to re-calibrate my own nervous system. I decided I needed to do something.
The best way I know how to create community is through practicing mindfulness, so I’ve created a space for colleagues to sit together two mornings a week before school starts.
Being mindful of our own needs for self-care as educators is a top priority for me this year. A new administrator at our site admitted that as a teacher, self-care typically landed at the bottom of her list, beneath lesson planning and grading and parent conferences and on and on. I told her nothing gets in the way of teacher self-care.
In that spirit another source of community I’m tapping into this year is the Mindful Educator yearlong program offered by Mindful Schools. The program requires participants to dedicate at least twenty minutes a day to formally practice mindfulness. I am adding to those minutes by taking mindful breaths throughout the day with my students. Instead of setting aside one day a week for our practice, such as “Mindful Mondays,” I’m attempting to embody the practice in the classroom moment to moment.
The program requires participants to dedicate at least twenty minutes a day to formally practice mindfulness.
It’s been exciting to see the direct connections between the thoughts in our heads and the feelings in our hearts.
Students took the mindset quiz created by Carol Dweck, Stanford University Professor of Psychology and author of the book Mindset to determine their beliefs about intelligence. Did they focus on learning from mistakes and welcoming challenges, hallmarks of a growth mindset, or were they trapped in the fixed mindset dichotomy of being either smart or dumb?
I shared with students the example of how I decided that I would acknowledge my negative self-talk around technology. Instead of shying away from it, I see every day as an opportunity to learn and improve my presentation skills, particularly with Google Slides. When I had failed to input a student’s grades in the new grading program, I said to him, “Don’t get mad at me. I’m still learning, and I will improve.” I wasn’t scared like I used to be about messing up and losing students’ papers. I was showing him my vulnerability and my growth mindset. Then he said, “Me too, Ms. Bean.” He had been sent out of my classroom for an inappropriate sexual comment about “swallowing.”
We can use problem-solving strategies such as:
- asking the teacher for help or to slow down or repeat what she or he said,
- showing up for tutoring,
- seeking out friends with growth mindsets,
- watching videos on YouTube
There are so many ways to grow our brain and our self-esteem and self-confidence. Being aware of the negative self-talk, the put-downs, the bully in our heads, is the critical first step to making a change.
Carol Dweck’s Ted Talk “The power of believing that you can improve”
Class Dojo Big Ideas for the Classroom Growth Mindset Episode 1
Khan Academy: Growth Mindset