#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 7: The Movie Exercise

It is good for us to take more than a few minutes to break away from everyday life and movies are a good way to do this. I always find it relaxing to cuddle up on the sofa and turn on one of my favourite movies. Today, our mindful focus exercise is just that!

⁃ Seat yourself in a comfortable position with your favourite comfort items.

⁃ Select either a favourite movie or a new one you have been waiting to watch.

⁃ Take two deep, Mindful breaths and turn it on.

⁃ While watching a movie, pay attention to how you get engrossed in the movie.

⁃ Observe closely what emotions does that movie bring out in you and take a note of it.

⁃ Once the movie is over, take a few minutes to reflect on the movie and the emotions.

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

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#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 6: Hair/Head Exercise

Have you ever considered how many times you touch your hair and head? Many people, when particularly nervous will run their hands through their hair or over their head, twist locks of hair or rub our scalps. The same goes for when we are happy, excited, sad and more. Today, we will actually pay attention to these movements.

⁃ Seat yourself in a comfortable position.

⁃ Take two deep, Mindful breaths.

⁃ Then, turn your attention to your head. Begin by either running your fingers through your hair or over your scalp.

⁃ Pay attention to how it feels against your hands.

⁃ How does it feel?

⁃ How does it make you feel?

⁃ Take the time to massage your scalp with your fingertips and enjoy the feelings.

⁃ Then, one small bit at a time, concentrate on the tingling of the skin, warmth and feel of the front, middle and back of your head.

⁃ Allow all of your attention to be on your head and hair.

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 5: Shoe Exercise

This is a middle of the day or end of the day exercise. For most of us, our feet take a beating during the day. Some of us have an easy time and others a more difficult time. We take our feet for granted and don’t actually always focus on the sensory input they provide. Today, we use our feet as part of our mindful focus.

⁃ Take off your socks and shoes and place your feet flat on the ground. It doesn’t matter if the surface is indoors or outdoors.

⁃ Sit up tall and take two deep, Mindful breaths.

⁃ Then, turn your attention to your feet.

⁃ How does the ground feel against your feet?

⁃ Then, one small bit at a time, concentrate on the feel of your toes, tops of your feet, bottoms of your feet and heels.

⁃ Allow all of your attention to be on your feet.

⁃ Wiggle your toes as you bring back focus on your whole body.

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

Mindfulness- Finding Positivity at the End of the Day

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For humans, language is a powerful tool. It can evoke positive, neutral and negative emotions. We also can direct these emotions in others by the words we say and the syntax of those few words.

As a Headteacher/Principal for more than 10 years, there is a similar conversation I have with parents and teachers repeatedly.

Usually, the scenario of the child moaning and complaining about something that has happened as soon as the child walks out the school doors that leads to upset in the family for the evening. This conversation repeats day after day, upsetting the parent and feeding a negative loop of emotions to the point of a child telling their parents nothing good about the school day. When the parents tell the teacher, he/she is baffled as the child has not complained and, in fact, has had an extremely positive days filled with lots of success and praise.

So, what is going on here?

According to Professor Nass, co-authored, “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships” (Penguin 2010),
“The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres,” Generally, negative emotions involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, he said. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.

Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University, highlights in an article he co-authored in 2001, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” which appeared in The Review of General Psychology, “Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.”

Basically, at a very young age, we realise that when we tell our parents the more negative experiences that have happened in our day, no matter how small, our parents give us more emotional feedback than when we tell them our positive experiences.

So, how can we as both teachers and parents use mindfulness to change how we see the day that will lead to mentally healthier experiences and reactions and to a more peaceful school and home environment?

Teachers

End each day with a positive thought– Have each child tell the class what is one thing they have learned that day or what was the best part of their day in school before they leave for the day. As a class, celebrate the successes; clap, cheer, smile and congratulate the positives. These positive thoughts and emotions follow the children out the door and home.

This gives you, as a teacher, a sense of accomplishment and positive mindful reflection on the day. It allows you to enjoy the success of the day instead of only considering the things that didn’t go well. It gives the day balance.

For children, it begins to refocus the day and allows children to bask in the glow of positivity. It helps them to give the day balance.

Parents

When you see your child at the end of the school day be specific in your questions:
– What was the BEST thing about today?
– What is the BEST thing you saw today?
– What is the KINDEST thing you did or said today?

The key is to focus on the positive and explore and discuss this positive. Allow the conversation to grow about this positive experience. Ask for details (Who was with you when this happened?) , explore the emotions (How did you feel? Did you smile?) and encourage gratitude (Did you say thank you? How do you think they felt?).

If your child tries to divert to a negative, let them know you will listen to them about it but first you are going to enjoy the positives and discuss the positives.

Before bedtime, bring up these positives again. Allow the child to repeat and allow the positive emotions to be the last emotions they have as they go to sleep. One falls asleep and has a better sleep when they have positive thoughts to drift off to.

This gives both of you time to enjoy each other’s company and reinforce a mindful sense of gratitude that can lead to a more harmonious family life.

Does this mean a child should never tell a parent what did not go well? Not at all! What we are wanting to do is to help children to find a mindful balance in life and find happiness in being happy.

Please note:
Just asking your child, “How was your day?” Is a neutral statement and doesn’t drive a positive mindset. Emphasis needs to be positive language.

Eventually, as the habit of positivity develops, even a neutral question will have a child first reflecting on the positive. However, this does take time.

Find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.

2017 Education’s Voice – Top 10 Mindfulness Posts

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It is at this time of the year that we can sit back and reflect on the year gone. For me, there have been many highs and a few lows. However, the one constant in my life has been this blog. Sharing mindfulness with others is always one that gives me peace and joy. This year I wrote 30 new posts. So, with excitement, I have looked over the data and can happily reveal the Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017.

#10100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom (the book): This Post is a bucket list ticker for me. It is about my book published by Bloomsbury, where it can be bought and a definite high point of 2017.

#9Mindfulness in the Classroom- Using Play Dough Part 1: Play Dough has been known for its therapeutic properties. The squishing and pounding, pinching and moulding provides a Kinesthetic/ kinaesthetic learning opportunity that can be used to enhance the development of mindfulness. This post gives you a simple recipe, how to do a Play Dough Meditation and how to make a mandala with Play Dough.

#8Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Christmas Mindfulness: 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 post outlines four weekly challenges for Christmas to help calm the anxiety and stress of the season.

#7Teacher and Leader Mindfulness- A Mindful Ofsted- Top 5 Tips: This Post outlines how we can prepare before hand for a more mindful way that allows us to show our schools at their best.

#6Mindfulness in the Classroom- Colour Meditation: Refocusing without judgement is a positive mindful activity that allows children to take a breather, allow a moment to step back from the work and then continue in a mindful way that allows for maximum progress. This simple Colour Meditation allows for quick refocusing in the Classroom.

#5Mindfulness in the Classroom- Mindful Assemblies: when developing mindfulness in a school, it is important that it becomes part and parcel of school life, this includes Assemblies. This post is filled with whole school mindfulness strategies to keep a school mindful.

#4Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Holiday Mindfulness To Do List: Holidays/Vacations are important times (and much needed) for educators. There is no debate regarding the stress caused by working in schools. So, Taking holidays seriously as a time to recover and refresh is important. This To Do List helps get us back on the right track.

#3Mindfulness in the Classroom – Top Test Taking Tips: National testing is a part of education systems across the world. Every year, millions of children (and adults) sit down for timed, standardised tests. The anxiety levels hit an all time high. For some people, this adrenaline rush helps them. However, for many more, this stress doesn’t allow them to be at their best. These mindful tips can help make a difference and allow children to shine.

#2Mindfulness in the Classroom-Using Play Dough Part 2: who doesn’t like Play Dough? You can mash it, hit it, squish it and roll it. In this post, we look at how to use it as part of mindfulness development by making worry stones, finger labyrinths and stone towers.

#1Top Tips – Mindfulness and Tinnitus: This Post hit a need beyond just those in education. Tinnitus is a scared and annoying condition. There is no cure. Thus, those that suffer from Tinnitus have to learn to live with it and mindfulness is one way.

This is a fantastic and diverse list that I am proud of.

A special thanks go to family, friends and followers for indulging me and allowing me to share. I wish you and yours an amazing and mindful 2018!

Book Review- 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Homework by Jenna Lucas

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Bloomsbury continues to add quality resources to their ever expanding education division with a book by Jenna Lucas in the #100Ideas series. The ageless topic of  homework is one that schools have been grappling with for many years. Parents hate it because it can be a fight at home and teachers hate it as it takes even more time to chase after it or mark it. As a Headteacher, I am constantly having to reflect on and balance the needs of all.

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Homework is a little gem of a book that makes homework a practical, engaging activity for the whole family. Thus, homework doesn’t become a fight ending in tears but a fun exploration of the home and local environment that develops lifelong skills and embeds school learning experiences after school hours.

The book is divided into several sections: Student 5 a day, Literacy, Maths, Science, Topics, The arts, The outdoors, Technology, Finding out and Learning nuggets. Each with a wealth of ideas, teaching tips and bonus ideas.

While all the sections have quick and easily accessible homework ideas, I am particularly impressed with the Student 5 a day section with its emphasis on child wellbeing and development of very mindful skills. My favourite is Idea # 1- Student 5 a day!

Another bonus of the ideas is that most require little or no marking! Also, the Teaching Tips really do make it clear how to get the most out of the work the children produce.

The homework ideas can equally be good for in class activities and lessons allowing for great diversity in the use of the book.

Conclusion:
This is a great book for a teacher to have in her/his arsenal of resources to support the creative planning of teaching and learning.

To find out what Jenna says about her book, watch this video of my short interview with her recently at Bloomsbury offices.

You can follow Jenna on Twitter @JennaLucas81 and you can purchase her book on Bloomsbury here or on Amazon here.

 

A Teacher’s Mindfulness- Colour Meditation

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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.

Colour Meditation

– 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.