Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mindfulness for Teachers

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?

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate your advice and passion. So happy to find you!


Thank you for participating in this forum. Anonymous commenting is available, but is not intended to shield those taking pot shots at those of us challenging PBLA. If you are here to do that, please use your name.