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Mindfulness: a new toolbox for your classroom

Carolanne Tremblay ,

More than a simple meditation technique, I see mindfulness as a way of life. Mindfulness is living in the moment while being aware of what is happening at precise moments, here and now. Carpe diem.

It’s a method that has you focus your attention on the present moment as often as possible. You can then track the evolution of your thoughts and emotions while staying open and neutral and without trying to control, judge or analyze them.

Mindfulness has been making its way to classrooms for a few years now. More and more teachers use this technique to help center their students on their needs and help them concentrate.

“I was lucky enough to work in close collaboration with an elementary school. We created a project that aimed to have elementary students practice mindfulness meditation for a whole year. I was able to witness the technique’s impact on the students and the teachers. The teachers who participated in the project were able to benefit from a better class environment as the students were in a better learning disposition. The students were able to develop their self-conscience, their self-esteem and confidence and their emotional self-regulation.

The teaching process can only benefit from a calm environment. I believe that teaching students to stop and to feel their experiences without judgement can only help them in the future.” - Nancy Boisvert, Psychologist

My toolbox

Here are a few simple activities you can try in your classroom to introduce your students to mindfulness meditation.

Before doing so, understand that this method is not for everyone. You should pay attention to your students and help them if they don’t feel at ease.

1) The stop

This activity will help students learn to stay in touch with their breathing and to attenuate certain emotions. Choose a sound that will play at certain times during the day. This can be once or twice per day at first and can be more frequent later as needed. When the sound plays, everyone stops what they’re doing and takes three deep breaths while focusing on their inspiration and expiration. After three breaths, they can resume their activities.

2) Sitting meditation

This activity will help develop your students’ attention span. Ask your students to adopt a comfortable and stable posture. They could, for example sit cross-legged on the ground, or sit at their desk. The meditation can be directed by the teacher (especially for the first few sessions) or be held in silence.

3) The body scan

This relaxation technique allows students to be aware of the different regions of their body and to stay in the present moment. Have the students position themselves comfortably, sitting or lying on the floor. Guide them to first focus their attention on their breathing. Then, guide them from their feet to their head, pausing at each region of their body to remind them to relax. For example, “you can feel your feet touching the ground. Relax your toes, the balls of your feet, your ankles.”

4) The renewal technique

This activity will help improve your students’ relationships with each other. It consists in expressing different things in a precise order. Set up a climate of attentive listening and sharing to help students feel safe. Explain how they will take turns in speaking and make sure these rules are respected. This technique requires caring dialogue and attentive listening from everyone. You will have to adapt the technique according to your students’ age.

Ask your students to express themselves one after the other:

  • By identifying the qualities they appreciate in others.
  • By speaking about their regrets and their apologies regarding certain acts they have committed.
  • By explaining the sadness they felt when another student committed certain acts.
  • By naming the things they struggle with and asking for support from other students.

With the younger students, you should start with the first step only. You should wait a little before implementing the conflict resolution parts. You know your students well, so you’ll know when they’ve reached the maturity required for this activity.

I presented four activities you can try in your classroom, but you should know there are many more you can do with your students. Spend some time learning about mindfulness if you wish to add it to your daily practice.

I wish you a pleasant discovery!

Here are a few interesting articles on mindfulness, should you wish to learn more:

Carolanne Tremblay

Director of Educational Resources

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