Pause, Refocus, Assess: Meditation in the Classroom
Meditation can be beneficial in educational settings. This practice provides students with breathing strategies that can be used to refocus their minds on learning. Meditation facilitates students’ transitions from one class to another and helps to build a compassionate and respectful community among them. Every day, my students and I sit in meditation together. In this post, I’ll share seven suggestions for putting classroom practice into action.
1. DEVELOP A PERSONAL PRACTICE BEFORE INTRODUCING IT TO YOUR STUDENTS.
Students who are not familiar with meditation may find it awkward and strange to engage in the practice. Demonstrating competence will help to calm their nerves and build trust. Participate in meditation sessions at a community centre or yoga studio. Meditate anywhere: at home, in a park, on the subway, etc. Practice until you are confident in your ability to introduce it to your students.
2. BE CONSISTENT.
In my teaching practice, meditation is an essential part of the process. The first five minutes of every class that I teach — even when I’m filling in for a colleague — are dedicated to meditation. A practice that is consistent and ritualized reaps greater benefits and establishes clear expectations.
3. USE MEDITATION AS A STRATEGY FOR REFOCUSING.
.Many professional athletes, including Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh, and Lebron James, engage in meditation regularly. Michael Jordan’s coach, Phil Jackson, taught him to meditate during games as a way to regain his concentration and keep his mind sharp. The inclusion of these public figures will engage kinesthetic learners and student-athletes, while also framing meditation as a practice that is distinct from the religious connotations that some people associate with the practice. As a strategy, I introduce mindful breathing to the group. “Focus: One Breath, One Mind,” says a community norm that is prominently displayed in the front of my classroom. When I ask students to concentrate, they understand that I’m encouraging them to bring their attention back to the present moment by engaging in mindful breathing.
4. SHARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION WITH YOUR STUDENTS.
Meditation, according to research, has a wide range of advantages. Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn and the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley are excellent sources of information and guidance on mindfulness. During their investigation, they discovered that:
Meditation improves our ability to fight illness by strengthening our immune system.
In addition to increasing positive emotions, the practice also reduces stress and negative feelings.
It assists us in tuning out distractions and increasing our level of attentiveness.
Compassion and kindness are fostered through meditation.
5. THERE ARE MULTIPLE WAYS TO MEDITATE.
As students enter my classroom, a student volunteer places a Tibetan singing bowl in the centre of the room, where it will remain until the end of the semester. As soon as everyone has taken their seats, the volunteer strikes the bowl to signal the beginning of the silence. Students sit with their feet flat on the floor and their hands folded across their laps. Some people close their eyes, while others look straight ahead. A few people lean their heads against the desks. After five minutes, the volunteer strikes the bowl once more to bring our practice to a close. I provide additional meditation options for my clients. Students can also do the following:
Savasana, or resting pose, should be performed on a yoga mat.
They take deep breaths with their hands on their stomachs.
When they take a breath, they can expand and contract a mini-sphere to mimic and visualise the movement of their lungs.
Using a beaded necklace or mandala beads, keep track of how many breaths you take.
Fill in the blank spaces of mandalas or geometric patterns that have been printed.
6. EVALUATE THE IMPACTS.
By holding conferences with students and collecting and analyzing data, you can determine whether the practice has had an impact on their academic success. Students reflect on their readiness for class every month, measure their level of calmness after meditation, and discuss issues and concerns they have about the meditation practice. Following a review of their responses, I choose five students to meet within a conference setting. We look at strategies to help them refine their practice while also strengthening their self-regulation and ability to stay on track with their coursework. Students put these modifications into practice in subsequent sessions. I keep track of their progress for two weeks, and I frequently notice improvements in their effort, participation, work products, and contributions during group discussions, among other things. One student, for example, changed his meditation routine by colouring mandalas and relocating his seat to a different section of the room. His classwork completion increased by 20% in the first week following the adjustment. When asked about his experience coloring mandalas at the beginning of class, he stated that it had helped him become calmer, less stressed, and more focused.
7. APPROACH YOUR ADMINISTRATION AND COLLEAGUES.
Professionally approach your administration and colleagues.
School districts across the country have revised their disciplinary codes to shift away from an over-reliance on suspensions and toward restorative justice practices and policies. Meditation and mindfulness practice are in line with the new emphasis on supporting students’ social and emotional learning and health, which is being implemented in schools. Present your school leaders with research (as in #4 above), data, and anecdotes from your classroom (as in #6). Inviting administrators and colleagues to participate is a good idea. Meditation is rooted in the present moment and can only be understood and appreciated fully through practice.