Reflections · Teaching Resources · wellness

Exercising Mindfulness, Part 2

It’s been nearly a year since my original post about Exercising Mindfulness. I feel like now is a good time to revisit/reflect on this topic and how I have been applying it lately. For starters, I have developed a regular yoga practice at a nearby studio. The mind and body awareness that I receive from yoga carries over into other aspects of life. I decided to take my yoga practice to work: I facilitate a short session on Wednesday mornings before school for staff members, and I am gradually implementing yoga techniques with some of my students.

Below are some other ways I have incorporated the philosophy of mindfulness recently:

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This is the book that I am currently reading. My dad recommended it after I expressed an interest in further implementing mindfulness strategies at school. I appreciate the anecdotes described by the author, who taught in several locations and practiced mindfulness exercises with her students on a daily basis. My dad has practiced TM (transcendental meditation) as part of his daily routine for over 30 years, and he has described numerous benefits of this practice. Although I do not anticipate leading a ‘meditation’ per se, I do see how different students can benefit from mindful breathing and other exercises in awareness. As I described in the other post, I tried an implementation of some of these exercises with 2nd grade students last school year. For the most part, the practices were well-received. I also introduced some yoga practices for a 3rd grade class last year on the rotation day. The rotation day is essentially an extra class period where I see different groups twice a week for a marking period. I have decided to focus on wellness-related topics this year.

As part of my leadership cohort coursework from last fall, I developed an action research proposal about the effect of mindfulness practices on student achievement and overall wellbeing. To continue with this work, I hope to carry out the proposal in my internship as a school leader. Thankfully my administrators are supportive of this effort, and I have had the opportunity to gradually implement other related topics on the rotation day this school year.

The current third grade rotation group has been learning about kindness and gratitude for the past several weeks. Some of their most recently projects include kindness journals and thank you notes.

I tried yoga this week for the first time with my current first grade rotation class. All in all, it went well! I think the timing of the lesson went smoothly with the introduction, transition to the cafeteria with the yoga mats, setting them up, etc. I was a little concerned about the logistics of shoe-tying at the end of class, but thankfully only two students needed assistance (and they asked other kids in the class for help!) We also created a KWL chart to determine prior knowledge, what the students wanted to learn, and what they learned that day.

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Another exercise we tried a few weeks ago with this same group involved visualization. It helped students to be more thoughtful and thorough in their descriptions, and it improved the details in their drawings. The prompt was to visualize something that made them happy. They had to close their eyes and think about all of the details of the person, place, or thing(s) that brought them joy. Then they were asked to create a drawing based on what they visualized. I loved their responses!

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Ocean City makes me happy.
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The zoo makes me happy.
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The circus makes me happy.
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Flying makes me happy.
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My family makes me happy.
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My mom makes me happy.

I plan to continue these practices for myself and with others. I feel that as a society we are neglecting the concept of being truly present. We’re constantly multi-tasking or worrying about what’s next, rather than fully focusing and experiencing the moment. I admit that I am guilty of these things, but I am working to adjust my habits.

How do you apply mindfulness practices into your own life? 

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