Mindfulness Helps us Set up a Positive Learning Environment
An excerpt from Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers by Patricia A. Jennings
Megan Cowan, The program director for the nonprofit organization Mindful Schools explains how mindfulness practice helps schools to become more compassionate places. Megan Cowan created the curricula for teaching mindfulness to elementary school students and adolescents. She has taught more than 3500 youth via Mindful Schools' in-class direct-service program, and trained more than 2000 educators, mental health professionals, and parents in mindfulness practices and applications for youth. This video is from the "Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion" conference on March 8, 2013. The Greater Good Science Center co-hosted this conference with Mindful magazine.
There is a mistaken belief among many teachers that we can and must control our students’ behavior. This sets us up for power struggles, where our attempts to control are likely to backfire.
It’s far better to create and maintain an effective learning environment by learning to control ourselves. We can control how we communicate, how we behave and where we position our bodies in space. We can set and reinforce expectations and limits. And, we can control the classroom physical space so that it supports learning.
A kindergarten teacher I know couldn’t get his students to stop running in the classroom, even after repeated reminders, and he was getting very frustrated. But, once he became mindful of the fact that his classroom furniture was arranged to create distinct “runways” in the class space and remembered that children have a natural inclination to run in open spaces, he could see what needed to be done: he moved the furniture to block the runways, and the children stopped running.
Knowing what’s going on in your classroom and with your students is critical to your ability to orchestrate the social-emotional dynamics and the physical spaces that are conducive to learning. Practicing mindful awareness helps you develop the skill of paying attention in the present moment and learning to see what’s truly happening in your classroom, allowing you to come up with better solutions to problems you see.
Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers
Jennings, Patricia. “Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers.” Greater Good, 30 Mar. 2015, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_mindfulness_can_help_teachers.
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I chose this article because it shows that kids are just that - kids. They are going to run and be wild, but that doesn't mean that they have to sacrifice their learning or that the teachers need to sacrifice their sanity. Every problem has a mindful solution!