By Teachers, For Teachers
Teaching strategies for instructing mindfulness can have dramatic effects on your students’ overall well-being and growth. Mindfulness is, “A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Research has proven that teaching strategies that bring about mindfulness have some amazing benefits. Studies show that they help to reduce stress, boost memory, cognitive flexibility, and can even help children focus. Mindfulness also is said to increase academic performance and improve a student’s attention span. Mindfulness can be among the teaching strategies you use to help your students live a happy and healthy life. Here are the five essential principles when teaching mindfulness to your students, as well as a few tips and techniques to get you started.
Each time that you teach or practice mindful meditation in your classroom, your goal will be different. During the first session, your goal may be to teach students how to relax. Your second session may be to help your students create awareness in their bodies. Your next session may be teach students how their emotions affect their body’s awareness. Each session should represent one goal at a time.
When you first introduce mindfulness techniques, you need to create a less-abstract type of practice. The first technique can be to teach students breathing techniques, while the second technique that you teach them may be to connect their breath with their body movement. Here is an example of how to teach your students how to focus on just their breath.
It doesn’t matter the age of the adolescents that you are working with, you should always start small and gradually increase the amount of time spent on meditation. Start with something as short as two minutes, then increase each day. Young adolescents may only be able to focus on themselves for a few minutes, while older students may be able to increase their mindful techniques to as much as 30 minutes.
Your role is to guide students into a peaceful awareness into their mind. They do not want to hear you talking the entire time. Students need to be able to engage in their own experience without you talking the entire time. It is OK to begin the session with a few guided words, but once you know the students understand the technique, then it’s time for you to stay quiet. Always keep in mind your role is the facilitator and the guide, and that is all.
Allow time for your students to process what they have just experienced. Whether it was a positive or negative experience, they should talk about and discuss it. After each session, have them buddy up with a partner to talk about their experience, or write about it privately in their journals.
Not all of your students will be able to reap the benefits of mindfulness mediation right away. This technique takes practice and the more you practice, the better you get at it. If you find that some students are just unable to keep focused then you can try other techniques. Here are a few ideas.
By teaching your students mindfulness, and following these five essential principles, you are giving your students the tool to be able to let go of any negativity that they are feeling. This is a powerful tool that they can use anytime and anywhere throughout their entire lives.
Do you teach mindfulness in your classroom? If so, what kinds of teaching strategies do you practice? Please share your thoughts and the activities that you do in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.