Sometimes, despite our best efforts in teaching children (and adults) about mindfulness, using mindfulness strategies and being mindful, we forget about it in the times of greatest distress unless it is truly embedded in our minds. This is why I believe it is important to have visual reminders that support that subliminal message to take control of our emotions and believe in ourselves.
This post is a simple one. It is filled with pictures that I have created over the last year that can be copied, saved and made into printable posters for your classroom and across the school. All I ask is that there is some acknowledgement that it came from Education’s Voice. Otherwise, use as is appropriate for you and your school.
Please note, some pictures are more appropriate for staff than children and we MUST NOT forget the adults in our schools! They need reminders as well.
I find it interesting that a random date can have so much significance. Why should the 1st January mark the beginning of a new year, the beginning of fresh starts or a difference of such significance that copious amounts of sparkly beverages and loud fireworks blast into the air?
We should treat each new day with the same exuberance and positive outlook that we use to celebrate a new year on a calendar.
Earlier this week I shared my Mindful New Year’s Resolutions. Life is not easy. As we go about our lives, it can feel like a roller coaster. Some days are exciting, peaceful and perfectly awe inspiring and other days plunge us to the very edge of insanity. Taking control of the ride takes daily practice, even for the most experienced.
Even for the most experienced mindfulness practitioners, a refreshing of mindfulness practice can bring us deeper peace and control of our emotions.
So, let’s kick start 2017 and work on developing our own mindfulness so that we can be models for others around us.
#MonthOfMindfulness Challenge will only take a few minutes a day. There will be some tasks that you take to easily and there will be others that will not suit you. That is ok. This is about opening up and building your toolkit of mindfulness strategies.
Ok, so you had the best of intentions to start the academic year mindfully. After a restful summer, you were determined to be mindful. But, before you knew it, you were knee deep in teaching, marking and new policies, all thoughts of mindfulness went out the window.
It happens! That is ok. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Make the development of your own mindfulness and the mindfulness of your class your New Years Resolution.
But, we all know that doing anything cold turkey can be counter productive. So, in preparation for the new Mindful year, get in a little mindfulness practice. Over five days, complete a new part.
Then, in January, join me for a #MonthOfMindfulness. Keep active in your thoughts and conversations mindfulness strategies. Like all things it takes practice and nurturing. Even if you have practiced mindfulness for a while, refreshing your practice will support your mental well being as well as the mental well being if your class and family.
Stress is a part of life. It always has been and it always will be. Trying to find mindfulness strategies to minimise how we react to stress is the key to life-long peace and well-being. The younger we are, the better we will be able to cope with what life gives us and use it to our advantage.
When we are stressed, our emotions overwhelm us. These emotions fight for attention and send our heart rates speeding. The emotions demand attention.
This simple 5 minute mindfulness strategy is a modified Japanese relaxation technique which allows us to give focused attention to various emotions in order to achieve peace and mindful relaxation.
This technique is appropriate for children and adults and requires only your hands and a quiet place.
Each of the fingers are associated with different feelings or attitudes.
* Thumb: Helps combat emotions like worry and anxiety.
* Index: Can help combat fear.
* Middle: Helps control anger and indignation.
* Ring: Emotions of sadness and depression; helps you to be more decisive.
* Pinky: Helps to calm anxiety, increases optimism.
Using the opposite hand, apply pressure to each finger by holding it tightly, focusing on that emotion and allowing yourself to release the negative energy of that emotion. Allow yourself to be a peace with the emotion without judging yourself. Breathe deeply for 15 breaths as you focus and release. You will begin to notice your pulse in the finger being held.
Complete the meditation, by applying gentle circular pressure to the palm of your hand as you smile and prepare for the rest of the day.
The key to this strategy is that you acknowledge your emotions, you give them some time that they demand. But, you control the way in which they are acknowledged and then put them to rest.
Christmas is a stressful time of the year for most people. Add 30+ Christmas happy children, several Christmas performances and Christmas parties on top of the normal day to day life of a teacher, and the Christmas time stress doubles.
This Christmas give yourself an early Christmas gift and develop some mindfulness strategies. Each week for the next four weeks, there will be a new strategy to undertake for the week. Practice it often and remember you are not alone!
This week’s task is to make at least one person laugh everyday! It is not your job to make everyone happy. But, making a few people laugh and smile each day will lighten your emotional load by releasing the feel good chemical, endorphin. So, take a moment, smile, laugh and be jolly!
Extra: Developing Mindfulness in the Classroom this month could also save your sanity. Why not try some simple strategies that will calm the children and bring the gift of mindfulness into their lives?
Today’s blog is written by Dan, a dedicated Year 1 teacher. At the heart of his teaching is always giving the children what they need to be successful.
As a teacher there are lots of people who can help you with your job. Admin staff, colleagues and even the children! However there is one job though that no-one else can do and it is the most important thing you can do in your working day. BE KIND TO YOUR MIND. What do I mean by this?
As teachers and just simply human beings our minds have never been so full of things – American presidential elections, parent requests, assessment deadlines, Brexit, planning, childcare, economic recoveries, marking as well as other school and family related duties. The danger is that our minds are becoming very noisy with all the events going on around us. By noisy I mean simply we are ending up in a situation where we don’t even know what we think about anything because our minds are so full!! We can’t even think and we are supposed to be teachers!
STOP. Enter mindfulness. Probably the most vaulable skill I’ve learnt in four years of teaching. Why? It’s had a massive impact on my performance in the classroom and most importantly at home as a dad and a husband. I feel very blessed and privileged to have a Principal who takes the mental well-being of her staff so seriously she gives up 15 minutes every morning before school to allow all staff to come and empty their noisy minds through a guided meditation which she leads. I’ve learnt missing it is not an option. Why? From my own reflections over the past 12 months those 15 minutes lead to greater productivity, increased calmness and significantly clearer thinking in the classroom environment. After our guided meditations I have 15 minutes before opening the door and welcoming the children in . During this time I often change plans or get new ideas because I have been able to stop and hear myself think. The noise has gone. My mind is no longer full. I am calm, happy and ready to face the challenges of the day – thankful, positive and smiling. I make an effort to show that smile as I open the door. It’s a simple equation – calm and happy teacher = happy and calm children.
I hold onto this mantra – the past is history, the future is a mystery, this moment is a gift which is why it’s the present. I tell myself it a lot because my only regret about mindfulness is that I didn’t discover it earlier on in my teaching career as it would saved a LOT of stress and I would have managed situations very differently probably. When I do this though I have to stop that thought because the past is history and the only thing that matters is the present. I need to remember to be kind to my mind.
Why don’t you try mindfulness this week in your school? I can’t think of a more important time for teachers and head teachers to use it on a daily basis in their schools. The demands of working in a school are ever increasing – mindfulness could be the key step your school takes in managing the stress and workload and most importantly ensuring your school is a calm and happy place. You know what the end result is of creating a calm and happy environment? Answer – happy children, and that at the end of the day is what we want to achieve more than anything else. There is nothing like the present moment – seize it! Go on – be kind to your mind – even just for 5 minutes!
On my drive to or from work, I can find myself drifting off to the dealings of the day or the things I will need tomorrow. I replay conversations or have conversations that may happen in the future. Before you know it, I can’t remember the drive at all! Not only can this be dangerous, it can make me feel upset and unsettled intensifying the stress you are under.
Has this happened to you? More than likely, yes!
The key to mindfulness is not being in the present every moment of the day. That is not possible and not appropriate for a successful life; you do need some time to reflect in order to improve and prepare for the future. The key is being able to refocus yourself in the present at your will and not at the will of your meandering thoughts.
Refocusing without judgement is a positive mindful activity.
One way to remain focused on your drive is to give yourself a mindful task that allows you to be in the moment of driving home. (This can also be done even if you take the train, bus or even walk to work.)
The Colour Meditation is one way to keep focused.
– Choose a colour and decide to notice that colour during your travel time. Take the time to notice the objects and people wearing that colour. (I like to choose colours that I think will be more difficult to come across as it does make me really stay focused in the moment.)
– Have you noticed something or someone you have never noticed before? How many different things are you noticing? (I always surprise myself when I buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice that car EVERYWHERE!)
Make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate yourself for being in the present.
With this mindful task, you may find that the world becomes more colourful.