Yesterday TESL Windsor hosted Jennifer Elizabeth Alexander for a workshop on mindfulness. It was powerful.
Today I am acutely aware of ways in which I am not going mindfully through the day, as well as ways in which I am. Yesterday I made a commitment to do one thing mindfully this week. I chose "eat breakfast mindfully." So this morning I made sure that I ate my oatmeal sitting down without the distraction of a newspaper, computer or smartphone. I closed my eyes and smelled the oats, flax and berries before taking a bite. I savoured each mouthful slowly. Also, I remembered to acknowledge that I am grateful to have a nourishing breakfast today.
What do I do to bring mindfulness to my classroom? Here are three ways I try to bring mindful presence to my class:
No matter how rushed I feel, no matter how many more things I feel pressured to finish before the (figurative) bell rings, if a student addresses me to ask a question or say good morning, I look up from what I'm doing and make eye contact, smile, and respond. Then I return to what I was doing. That is my intention, anyway, though I am human and know I sometimes fail.
An unspoken classroom rule in any space in which I am facilitating the lesson is: when one person is speaking, the rest of us are not speaking. We give the speaker our undivided attention. In order to attain silence and respectful attention for the speaker, I simply stand and wait for chatter to abate, then cue the speaker to continue. This is done with a pleasant expression on my face. I am not angry, rather patient--and perhaps at times a bit amused.
We begin on time, end on time and take breaks on time. One reason I respect the schedule to the minute is that it allows us to focus fully on what we're doing when we're doing it. A student who is distracted by the fact that the teacher is going over into break time is just that--a distracted student. I would rather that we be fully present for our breaks and fully present for the lesson time rather than having muddy, chaotic boundaries between them.
After posting this, I will put on my boots and take a walk on a nearby woodland trail. I need to give my soul some nourishment before embarking on a new work week.
How about you? Do you practice mindfulness?