Mindful Moments

I have historically seen a rise in behavioral issues and lack of motivation in my own classroom around this time of year.  My students have been dealing with the usual academic pressures, as well as unease in their lives outside of school.  Negativity and defeatism can spread like wildfire, and it is important to be proactive and consistent in keeping our students and schools positive and motivated.

I introduced something called “Mindful Moments” with my classes.  Essentially, the process goes something like this:

  1. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, and back straight.  Hands can be in your lap or on the table, clasped or unclasped, but they should be empty.  
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Think about your day so far, or how you would like your day to look.  Set a positive intention for the day, or decide on a positive goal you would like to accomplish.  Your goal could be something personal, small, large, or something that could affect our greater community.  
  4. When you are ready, open your eyes.

Mindful Moments take about 30 seconds to 1 minute out of your instructional time.  They help build upon students’ social-emotional education by having them set goals, take much-needed brain breaks, and have a time to reset their ways of thinking into more positive outlooks.  They can be done anytime; usually I do them at the start of each class, but I have also introduced the process as something to do whenever you are feeling stressed or anxious, or whenever you need a mental break.  

Mindful Moments don’t have to stop in your classroom – they work for teachers just as well!

How do you introduce mindfulness in your classroom?  How do you support your students’ social and emotional needs?

Three Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

Today was one of those days.  You know what I’m talking about…one of those days that starts out by spilling your coffee down the front of your white shirt and goes downhill from there.  One of those days where every single copier you use jams in twenty different places, everybody seems grumpy with you, and that great tool called technology just keeps crashing when you need it most.

It also doesn’t help that the holiday season is now upon us, and that alone can cause pounds of its own weight on our already stressed out shoulders.  This is a time of year when both professional life and personal life seem to be closing in, and we are trying to beat the clock to finish our to-do lists.  How can we possibly avoid burnout, especially at times like these?

Here are three easy things you can do to relive some of this stress, now or any time you are feeling overwhelmed.

1. Stretch

You don’t have to do an all-out yoga routine (although, if you are interested, there are a lot of great websites that have free resources and videos I can share…), but taking a few minutes to stretch out your muscles, especially in your shoulders, neck, and back, will get rid of some of the physical tension you may not realize you are carrying around.  You can even do some stretches right from the comfort of your chair!  Bonus: It will also help you correct your posture.  If you are anything like me, you start slouching when you feel overloaded.

2. Breathe

Sounds silly, but deep breathing exercises help center us, bring us back to the present moment, and calm our minds.  Start by taking a deep, down-to-your-belly breath, hold it for a few seconds, and then slowly, slowly release it.  I use an app on my phone that sets your breath intake, hold, and release to music.  I have a hard time meditating because my brain usually wanders, but deep breathing helps me get into a more meditative focus.  Try doing this for five minutes a day, everyday, no matter how jam-packed your schedule seems to be.

3. Smile

No matter how bad it gets, no matter how frazzled you feel, slap a smile on your face.  Do something goofy.  Do a nice deed for someone else.  That saying “fake it ’til you make it” holds true…eventually you’ll find that your outlook has a much more positive spin, and that smile doesn’t feel fake anymore.

What are some of your stress-busting tactics?  What do you do with your students to help them relieve stress?