Components of Mindfulness in the Elementary Classroom

 

Source of image: http://wonderscounseling.com/mindfulness-for-children-helping-kids-feel-calm/

 

What is mindfulness?

 

Definition of mindfulness according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

 

“The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; a state of awareness.”

 

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts mindfulness is:

 

“The practice of paying attention on purpose in a very particular way without judgement.”

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https://www.uhs.umich.edu/mindfulness

 

Why is mindfulness practiced in schools?

 

For many reasons, mindfulness has become a crucial component of creating success in schools for educators and students alike. Overall, it has been found that “mindfulness practice(s) decrease stress and anxiety, increase attention, improve interpersonal relationships, strengthen compassion, and confer a host of other benefits,” (Mindful Schools, 2010-2016) such as helping teachers and students to regulate their emotions, promote a sense of calmness, allow them to gain self-control, support adaptability, and help to foster a healthy and positive learning environment. (Mindful Schools, 2010-2016) In today’s ever changing society, filled with constant stimulation and instant distractions, mindfulness practices are needed more than ever in education to provide outlets for teachers and students to regain a sense of inner peace. With the rise of standardized testing and high stake standards, toxic stress is becoming a normal part of the school atmosphere, causing teachers to feel overwhelmed and burnt out, and young students to be flooded with anxiety from the need to fulfill high expectations. Therefore, making mindfulness a daily part of the school and classroom life provides teachers and students with an outlet to release these toxic stressors and regain focus of what is most important - their well-being. Afterall, teachers and students cannot be successful if they are not mentally and physically at their best.

 

Mindfulness Resources for Educators:

Below are a list of resources created for educators that include everything from research, activities, lessons, feedback, and general support in all things relating to mindfulness and mindfulness practices.

 

Website - “Mindful Schools” found at http://www.mindfulschools.org: “Learn mindfulness, teach youth, and connect with other educators as we transform schools from the inside out.” (Mindful Schools, 2010-2016)

This website contains research and current articles regarding mindfulness in education, a variety of mindfulness courses designed for educators, and information on how to successfully bring mindfulness into the schools and the classroom. It provides a place for educators to connect with other educators who are interested in, passionate about, and wanting to or currently practicing mindfulness in schools.  

Website - “Mindful Teachers” found at http://www.mindfulteachers.org: “Living, Learning, & Teaching with Mindful Awareness.” (Hannay, 2012-2016)

This website provides educators with mindfulness activities, lessons, and teaching resources for the classroom, along with books, articles, interviews, research, and training information all regarding mindfulness.

Article - “Mindfulness: A Teacher’s Practice” written by Neena Barreto and found at http://proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=109276893&site=ehost-live&scope=site

This article explains to readers that before a teacher can successfully implement components of mindfulness into their classroom and into their students’ lives, they must understand it and practice it for themselves. Barreto informs readers, “What I finally realized was that learning how to regulate my own nervous system had the most profound effect on my students,” (Barreto, 2015). This article also provides a list of mindfulness books for teachers and students.

Article - “Mindfulness for Children: Helping Kids Feel Calm” written by Lynn Wonders and found at http://wonderscounseling.com/mindfulness-for-children-helping-kids-feel-calm/

This article was written from the perspective of a counselor and therapist who works with children and their families in areas of mindfulness. This article provides advice for how teachers can implement and practice mindfulness in their classrooms.

Article - “Benefits of Mindfulness” found at Helpguide.org http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm:

This article explains why practicing mindfulness is important to one’s everyday life. The article also provides different positive effects that mindfulness has on one’s well-being, physical health, and mental health. There are examples of mindfulness practices that individuals can do themselves.

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How can mindfulness practices be implemented

into the classroom and into the school?

 

In both our student teaching experiences, we noticed a negative shift in student behaviors and attention spans as the school day progressed from morning to afternoon. After lunch and recess the students began to act out and their abilities to listen dissipated. Classroom instruction time was delayed multiple times due to this negative shift in student behavior. Originally, our classrooms attempted to tackle this issue by having students partake in energetic “brain breaks.” A “brain break” in our classrooms is a short mental break that transitions students from the curriculum to an active and energetic short activity, in order for students to release excess energy and improve focus. These activities include dancing, exercising, and singing. However, we quickly came to discover these energetic “brain breaks” were not solving the issue at all, but rather heightening it. The energetic “brain breaks” appeared to build up the students energy, not release it, making it difficult for students to transition back into the classroom instruction. As future educators we believe, based upon our research, that students are in need of mental and physical breaks throughout the school day in order to promote academic success. Therefore, we came to realize these energizing “brain breaks” were not the solution we needed, instead calming “brain breaks” tailored specifically to mindfulness would serve our students, and us, better.

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/family/2016/03/teaching_mindfulness_meditation_in_schools_a_skeptic_s_investigation.html

 

During a two week period, we implemented various researched-based mindfulness practices into the two first grade classrooms where we were doing our student teaching. These mindfulness practices were implemented in the afternoon schedule of the school day, after the students returned to their classrooms from lunch and recess. Implementing these practices allowed us to experience first hand the effects that mindfulness can have on elementary aged students’ behavior.

Classroom Background Information

Classroom A: This first grade classroom is located within a rural school district. The classroom consists of 23 total students: 10 females and 13 males. There are two students who are on Academic IEPs. One student with an IEP has a Specific Learning Disability (SLD), while the other has an Other Health Impairment (OHI) dealing with speech problems. Two students have been identified and are on medication for ADHD. One student has asthma. One student has a heart murmur. Seven students receive speech services. Six students are currently receiving Title services and are on a Reading Improvement Plan. Five students are currently going through the Response to Intervention (RTI) process. There are no English Language Learners and no 504 plans. 19 students are Caucasian. Three students are biracial with one African American and one Caucasian parent. One student is biracial with one Hispanic parent and one Caucasian parent. All in all, the classroom behaviors are average for first graders.

Classroom B: This first grade classroom is located within a rural school district. The classroom consists of 26 total students: 14 females and 12 males. There are three students that are undergoing the IAT (Intervention Assistance Team) process, while two students are receiving occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech services. One student is on a speech IEP. There are several students with diagnosed but untreated eyesight problems. There are no English Language Learners. Twenty-three students are Caucasian and three students are biracial with one African American parent and one Caucasian parent. There are no uncommon first grade behavior patterns in this classroom.

 

Mindfulness Practices Implemented

Practice 1

https://www.gonoodle.com/: GoNoodle is an online website providing a wide variety of video programs designed to get students moving and active in schools through activites that include dancing, stretching, exercising, running, and practicing moments of mindfulness. GoNoodle in schools has been found to improve student behavior and attention in order to better students’ academic performance and success, promoting classroom cohesion and creating a positive atmosphere. (GoNoodle for Schools, 2012-2016) In order to use the resource GoNoodle, one needs to create an account, which can be done for free, unless one wishes to become a GoNoodle plus member. Below are the video programs from GoNoodle that were implemented into our classrooms in order to promote mindfulness practices.

Flow videos: This program of videos was designed specifically to allow students to “relax, think positive, and flow using various mindfulness activities.” (GoNoodle for Schools, 2012-2016) The videos focus on using various forms of meditation to engage students.

Rainbow Breath: This video was designed to calm students by guiding them through the active breathing technique titled “Rainbow Breath” that demonstrates how to breath in and out creating the shape of a rainbow with their arms, focusing on their breath, and clearing their mind.

Melting: This video was designed to calm students by guiding them through a physical meditation where they go from being “frozen” - meaning tight muscles all over the body, to “melting” - meaning slowly releasing and relaxing their tight muscles. As they go from being “frozen” to “melting” the video directs them in paying attention to different parts of the body as they unfreeze and focus on how they feel. It teaches them how to let go of stress and negative emotions in order to find peace and relaxation.

Weather the Storm: This video was designed to calm students by guiding them through a verbal meditation where they listen and learn how to stay positive and stay strong during tough and stressful moments. It provides them with ways they can control their emotions and focus on positive thoughts and feelings, comparing their bodies and strength to that of a tree embracing a storm.

On & Off: This video was designed to calm students by guiding them through a physical meditation where they work to focus on the energy within their bodies and how to control this energy and turn it on and off. It engages their entire body and mind, allowing them to release any stress, frustration and built up energy within their bodies, promoting relaxation.

Empower Tools videos: This program of videos was designed to “strengthen students minds, bodies, and heart” (GoNoodle for Schools, 2012-2016) by engaging students in practicing yoga.

Strengthen Your Focus: This video was designed to harness students abilities to focus through a series of stretching, engaging the attention of their minds and bodies. The video guides students through the yoga stretch titled, “Tree Pose.”

Own Your Power: This video was designed to harness students inner strength through a series of stretching, engaging the students verbally and physically through verbal exertions of energy.

Practice 2

Mindfulness for Children exercises from http://annakaharris.com/mindfulness-for-children/: This website provides various mindfulness exercises created to support children in developing self-awareness and concentration. The exercises listed below come in the form of an audio recording. They were provided on this website, but originally came from a series of InnerKids classes that were specifically designed for children between the ages of 6-10. (Harris, 2016)

Mindful Breathing: “In this exercise, children are guided through a process of paying attention to the breath.” (Harris, 2016) It is useful for allowing students to find peace and calmness during the school day.   

Mindful Hearing: “In this exercise, children are guided through an experience of paying attention to sounds.” (Harris, 2016) It is useful for allowing students to practice active listening, work on gaining complete focus, and overall help to “settle the mind” (Harris, 2016).

https://books.google.com/books/about/Good_Morning_Yoga.html?id=w7_6sgEACAAJ&source=kp_cover&hl=en

Practice 3

The children’s book, Good Morning Yoga - A pose by pose wake up story, by Mariam Gates and illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder . . . an online reading of the book done by Mariam Gates is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-a4iOERMRs: This book guides students through a series of yoga poses they can do to help prepare their minds and bodies for a positive and productive day. If one does not have access to the hard copy book, they can present the online reading of the book to their class instead.

Practice 4

Cosmic Kids Yoga videos found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5uIZ2KOZZeQDQo_Gsi_qbQ: This resource is a youtube channel containing videos of “Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation designed specially for kids aged 3+, used in schools and homes all over the world.” (J. 2012) The videos below are apart of the channels “Peace Out” series that contain “Guided relaxations and visualizations for kids, written and voiced by Jaime from Cosmic Kids” (J. 2012).

Peace Out Guided Relaxation for Kids | 1. Balloon: In this video, the students are guided through a mental visualization activity that has them actively pretend to pull down a balloon and then rise up with the balloon, traveling various places while being guided by the balloon. This visualization helps to take students away from the classroom setting and into a place of relaxation and calm all from within their imaginations, ultimately helping them to find inner peace.

Peace Out Guided Relaxation for Kids | 2. Time Out: In this video, the students are guided through questions that direct them to focus on their thoughts and their bodies, working to have the students change their focus and concentrate solely on their breathing. This video provides students practice with their concentration skills, while allowing them to simply breath and become refreshed at the same time.

Practice 5

Palm massage

Students use their opposite hand and press dots into their palm. They continue to move around the entire palm. They do this with pressure, but not enough pressure where it becomes painful. They do this on each palm for several seconds.

Practice 6

Cross-lateral movement

Students bring their right knee up to their left elbow and try to make contact. The students have to try their best to stay in an upright position, not hunching down to make their knee and elbow meet. Then they would switch and bring their left knee up to their right elbow and make contact. They would do two sets of ten for each.

Findings

Positives:

This process allowed us to have the opportunity to experience and try out different mindfulness practices that we researched. It was a rewarding experience because it provided us with new perspectives on how we can incorporate mindfulnes into our future classrooms.

Utilizing a variety of mindfulness resources enabled us to see the students’ reactions to these practices and make note of the benefits and disadvantages of each, helping us to find the practices that worked best for our students.

As we completed these practices, we began to notice how each practice tailored to the various needs of students, as well as the entire class in these moments.

Problems/Negatives:

Unfortunately, we introduced the concept of mindfulness and implemented these practices halfway through the first semester of the students’ school year. Therefore, the results of this process were not as beneficial to the students as we had desired, because we completed these practices in a short amount of time and it caused a disruption to the students daily routine. We wish we could have begun this process from the first day of school and made it a permanent part of the students’ school day. This would have allowed the students (and ourselves) to become more familiar with mindfulness and reap more benefits as time went on.

Since our student teaching ends halfway through the year, when we leave so will the use of the majority of these mindfulness practices. Ultimately, there will be no follow through of this process for students.

Going into this process, we both expected that after introducing these practices we would immediately see results of these practices on students changing their behavior, half expecting the students to “master” mindfulness that same day. Wanting and expecting these quick results was foolish of us. We learned through our research and implementation that mindfulness is a long and slow moving process. It takes time, effort, and repeated practice for students to reap all of the benefits of mindfulness and for teachers to become successful at practicing and teaching mindfulness.

Students’ Reactions:

Students reacted both positively and negatively to these different practices. We discovered that the effects of the practice being implemented depended on the class and their needs in that specific moment, which change on a day to day basis. However, as this process went on, we were able to identify which practices attended to the various needs of our students and implement them accordingly.

When students were struggling with listening and focusing their attention, we had them complete Annaka Harris’ mindful hearing meditation, and the Cosmic Kids visualization videos.

When students appeared to have more energy that they needed to release, we had them complete the physically active meditations and yoga stretching from GoNoodle, as well as the cross lateral movement.

When students appeared to simply need a mental break from the classroom instruction, we had them complete Annaka Harris’ mindful breathing meditation, as well as palm massages.

It is important to note that some practices did not work for the entire class and benefited only certain students and their needs, while other practices did gain the attention of all students. Along with this, we found that during each practice, about 3/4 of the students were actively engaged and willing to participate. For example, these students closed their eyes during meditations, followed along with the breathing exercises, and attempted each movement in the videos provided. They refrained from talking and giving in to classroom distractions. On the other hand, 1/4 of the students adopted the mentality and attitude that they were “too cool” for these practices, resisting participation and causing classroom distractions.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, the list we researched and provided of mindfulness practices that can be implemented in the classroom offer a wide variety of differing activities to help teachers bring mindfulness into their students’ lives. We learned in order to be successful at bringing mindfulness into the classroom, we as teachers have to be self-aware and familiar with the components of mindfulness and understand that it takes time and repeated effort for both teachers and students. As future teachers, we both plan to utilize these practices in our future classrooms to promote mindfulness and reap all of its many benefits.

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Educators perspectives of mindfulness:

 

https://www.dcsdk12.org/pay

We chose to interview various educators in the Ohio school systems where we are student teaching to gain their insight on mindfulness in the elementary setting. We interviewed three classroom teachers (first grade), two school principals, a school nurse, and a school guidance counselor, whose names wish to remain anonymous. We asked each educator four questions about their perspectives on mindfulness in relation to elementary education. Below, each question is listed with the answers of the educators.

 

1.) What is mindfulness to you? In other words, when you hear the word mindfulness,    

           what do you think of in terms of elementary education?

First Grade Teachers

Teacher 1: “In terms of elementary education, mindfulness, in my opinion, is when students are aware of their inner needs, emotions, and feelings. For example, when they need a break from the classroom or a minute to calm down.”

Teacher 2: “When I hear the word mindfulness, to me, it means being able to think about your own actions and how your actions affect others. It means being aware of what is considered good behavior and using that to show kindness and awareness of the people around you.”

Teacher 3: “My understanding on mindfulness is taking the time to redirect your thoughts and become aware of what you need to do, in order to show core values and focus in the classroom. The students are taking steps to becoming responsible for their own learning.”

Elementary School Principals

Principal 1: “The term itself, mindfulness, is something more new to me. It is a word that I have begun to hear more and more as my years in education progress. See, when I was a teacher, before I became a principal, mindfulness was something teachers did without knowing they were actually “practicing mindfulness” in their classrooms. In my first grade classrooms when I taught, I actually did a form of meditation with my students every day. I would turn off the lights, turn on calming music, and have the students either lay down or rest their heads on their desks and close their eyes. I would guide them in focusing on their breathing. It was a moment we could all just relax and release any stress or frustration we were feeling. The students loved it, and they needed it. But see, I wasn’t even aware that what I was doing with my students was indeed meditation and considered a mindful practice. It was just something I decided to do because I saw the need for it. I think mindfulness practices have always been around, but the term itself and its popularity is hitting teachers and schools now more than ever. In my opinion, I think it is because mindfulness and what it stands for are definitely much more needed now with the curriculum schools have and the harder standards students have to meet. The students need more breaks throughout the day from instruction time so that they can regain their focus and calm down.”

Principal 2: “Mindfulness should be incorporated into the classroom as much as possible, by taking the time to have the students become aware of different outlets they can take to be in control of their behavior. Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways, but in ways that show calm and reflective thinking. I wish there was more time in the school day to ensure that mindfulness was practiced everyday.”  

School nurse

“The ability to be self-aware and in control.”

School counselor

“To me, mindfulness means being aware of one’s own self, of one’s peers, and of the community as a whole.”

 

2.) Do you think mindfulness practices are important to incorporate in the classroom    

and/or would be beneficial for students? Why or why not?

First Grade Teachers

1: “It (mindfulness practices) definitely couldn’t hurt. Anything you can do to make the children more aware of their internal needs is helpful because it allows them to stay more focused and gives them the ability to verbalize their needs and emotions in order for them to be successful in the classroom.”

2: “It is a necessity. In my opinion, it goes beyond just the classroom because teachers are not only responsible for teaching their students educational information, but we are also responsible for teaching them to become good people and citizens of the world. We are the ones that teach them morals, how to behave in society, how to be a good person, a kind person, how to make good choices, how to treat others with respect, and overall how to be mindful of their actions and how it affects others. For some students, school may be the only place they get this information, so it is crucial classrooms practice mindfulness.”

3: “I think it is very important to incorporate mindfulness into the classroom. Even if it is just for a couple minutes during the school day. The students can sense when there is a shift in the energy in the classroom, whether that be in a positive or negative way. The students contribute to this energy without realizing they are doing it. If we were able to show students ways to redirect the energy in the classroom, we would be able to have more richer learning experiences throughout the day.”  

Elementary School Principals

1: “Yes, it is crucial. Curriculum for all schools has become harder and more extensive. So much is expected of our young students with the state testing that mindfulness practices are so needed for them to be successful. In my opinion, the younger the grade, the more crucial mindfulness is. They are just beginning school and have just entered into the formal educational system so they are not as able to handle all of the curriculum and tests thrown at them. It can definitely be stressful and frustrating for these young students, and mindfulness practices help to control and reduce this stress and frustration.”

2: “Mindfulness is something that schools should work harder at to incorporate into the school day. Students need an outlet for their energy, getting up and being active is not always going to be possible during the school day. If mindfulness is taught, then students could have different ways to release their energy. Mindfulness also allows the students to become self-aware. The earlier students learn to become self-aware, the earlier they are able to take hold of their own learning.  

Nurse

“I absolutely feel as though they are important. Children have a lot of stimulation and have difficulty “coming down.” I truly feel that kids lack the ability to calm themselves and focus. Obviously this can lead to focus and behavioral issues. Implementing these practices can decrease said issues.”

Counselor

“Yes, they are very important! It is important for students to develop mindfulness early on because it encompassess essential charcter traits, like respect, compassion, responsibility, etc.”

 

3.) Are there any mindfulness activities that you would want to implement in your

          class/school, if given the time during the school day?

First Grade Teachers

1: “Possibly, but I have never really come upon specific practices that I want to do or have done.

I really like to use the website gonoodle.com as a resource. They have different programs that provide various videos that guide the students in yoga poses or different meditation techniques. For me, the brain breaks that I use just depend on the students and what they need. In past classes I have had, almost all of the students loved having brain breaks and would fully engage in them, where this past year that is not the case. Only about half of the class enjoyed brain breaks and would participate in them. So it just depends on the students and the class I have at the time being and I choose the brain breaks I do based on their needs at that time.”

2: “I try to implement mindfulness practices into my classroom, but I would like to focus more time on really teaching the character traits necessary to be mindful to my students, so they can see and experience what it means to be mindful. I would like to do this more by making the time to have more morning meetings and circle time where I can have conversations with my students to talk about the things that are happening in their lives and how they are feeling. At these morning meetings/circle times, I would like to give the students scenarios and situations that allow us to discuss how to solve various issues that arise in the classroom, in the school, and in their lives, and address them head on. I would give the students time to partner talk to figure out how to handle these situations and focus on understanding how one’s actions affect others. In other words, I want my students to learn how to be mindful of one another. These types of morning meetings/circle times are done in my classroom almost every Friday, or as needed during the day, but it is something I wish I did everyday or at least multiple times a week to make it more prevalent in their lives. It is sad that time is such an issue, but mindfulness is so important and I need to make the time for it.”

3: “I would like to try to implement some kind of meditation at the beginning of the school day. I think this would be beneficial to the students because it would set the tone for the school day. I would also like to try and use meditation as a way of writing in the classroom. Students would be able to write down how they are feeling before, during, and after they meditate.”

Elementary School Principals

1: “At a conference I went to, I listened to a speaker talk about the book, “The Leader in Me” (by Stephen R. Covey, Sean Covey, Muriel Summers, and David K. Hatch) and it was so eye opening. Basically, the book talks about how in a school, the children should have responsibilities within their building ultimately caring about their school and actively helping make it the best place it can be. This book talked about a school having different clubs the students could partake in that were created and run by the teachers, with the students help. For example, one teacher was interested in yoga, so a yoga club was created. It was a great way to form a positive school community. The idea of fifth grade helpers actually came from this book. So as you know, our fifth grade students have been assigned various jobs around the school that they perform in the morning, when they would normally be sitting in the gym waiting for school to start. Students do jobs from taking out the recycling, helping in the office, to being assigned a teacher to help out with things they need done. These jobs get the students actively involved and making a difference in the school allowing them to feel important, needed, and allowing them to take pride in their school. It is something positive and productive for them to do, and helps to distract them from getting in trouble or goofing off. It’s like I always say, don't give them (students) the opportunity to get in trouble. At the beginning of the school year I bought a copy of this book for every teacher in my building and my goal is to work on incorporating more ideas from this book into our school within the next year. This book is full of ideas for how to help students become mindful of their school, their peers, and their actions.”

https://books.google.com/books/about/Leader_in_Me.html?id=IXw3AwAAQBAJ&source=kp_cover

 

2: “I would want to focus on having different practices that allow students to cross the midline of their body. When students do movements that cross the midline, they are opening and strengthening passageways in the brain. This could improve students ability to learn and focus in the classroom.”

Nurse

“I would like to implement morning meditation in every classroom. I would also like to implement meditation as an alternative to detention and in-school suspension. The classrooms are very full in our school building, causing students to be crammed into their classrooms. If we started days off with meditation, the school day could possibly run smoother for the students and the teachers.”

Counselor

“I try to teach guidance lessons on character traits that encourage mindfulness.”

 

4.) Have you personally tried mindfulness practices in your class/school? (If so, what have you tried? How did it work?)

First Grade Teachers

1: “Like I said, I love to use gonoodle.com as a resource for brain breaks for my students. I do brain breaks whenever my class transitions from subject to subject, or whenever I notice they are in need of one. The type of video I choose to use, such as a sing along dance video, an exercise video, or a yoga video, just depends on my students needs at the time. I also utilize a behavior system called “Brag Tags” that reward students with different beads that each represent a different behavior that they can add to their “brag tag” necklaces and wear on Fridays. These brag tags allow me to help teach the students various positive behavior traits that will allow them to become aware of making good choices and want to be kind to others. For example, if during partner work, a group of partners was doing a great job listening to one another, working together, helping each other, then they would receive a football bead representing they're being good team players.”

2: “I do have morning meetings every Friday, and I have class meetings regularly whenever a situation arises where I need to discuss with them the issue at hand, that way we can figure out how to solve the problem right away and they can learn how to handle their emotions and let out their feelings in a healthy and productive manner. If I don’t attend to these issues when they occur, then I will loose the students focus for the rest of the day and nothing will get done. During the day, I always try to teach them to work together cooperatively, respecting and listening to one another. I use a system called, Brag Tags, where the students can receive various beads that stand for different positive character traits they can collect and add to their “brag tag” necklaces. For instance, if I catch a student helping to pick up another students crayon box that fell on the floor, they would receive a heart bead for being a good friend and thinking of others. Doing this allows me to teach them and talk about these various character traits that are needed to be a mindful person and gives me the opportunity to recognize and praise their actions when they are being mindful. I do also use brain breaks throughout the day to let the students calm down so they can control their own bodies and their own actions.”

3:  “I implement several different mindfulness practices during the school day. When we do each practice we dim the lights and have a “no-talking” policy. The students are able to focus on concentrating and doing each movement. After recess I usually have the students stand up straight in front of their desks and we do “dots”. Dots are small hand massages that are done in the palm of the hand. The students apply pressure to different parts of the palm for several seconds. I also have the students do arm squeezes. Arm squeezes are when you give your arm three squeezes at your wrist, forearm, elbow, bicep, and shoulder. This gets the blood flowing through your arm. I also have the students do lazy eights. Each student has a picture of an eight that is laying on its side. The students have to take their pointer fingers and trace the eight in fluid motions several times. One of the last things that I have the students do is cross-laterals. Cross-laterals are when the student takes their right knee and brings it up to their left elbow and then bring their left knee to their right elbow. After we have done these the students are usually in a more calm state than they were before.”

Elementary School Principals

1: “Like I mentioned earlier, I did do a form of meditation when I taught first grade. But again, I  did it without really knowing it was a mindfulness practice, I did it because I recognized that my students needed a break. I also did a classroom break technique with a few students where I  would have different colored dots placed around the school in the hallways and I would send the student out into the hallway to go walk around and search for five dots, and when they found the dots they would have to touch them and count as a sensory technique. I would have students do this when they needed a break from the classroom and time to cool off. I also did another classroom break technique where I would write “Read Me” on the front of a folded piece of paper and staple it shut. I would the hand the note to the student who was in need of the break and ask them to take the note to whichever teacher I said. The other teachers all knew that these notes did not actually have anything on them, but were simply used as a way for the student to get out of the classroom and take a mental break. I even did it where the amount of staples I used to close the note reflected how much time this student needed to have a break for. For example, if I just had one staple, it was nothing major, but if it had ten staples then the teacher receiving the note would know the student needed some more time before heading back to the classroom.”

2: “I give the teachers free reign when it comes to implementing mindfulness in the classroom. I think having them create ways to practice mindfulness is more beneficial to the students because they have a deeper level of connection with most students than I do. I would, however, like to be able to have some kind of mindfulness room in the school building. This room could be reserved by the teachers for a certain amount of time each day. In the room, the teachers and students would solely focus on mindful practices. This room would also be used as a resource room where teachers and students can share what mindful practices worked and did not work for them.”

Nurse  

“Yes, two to three times a week in a second grade classroom at the beginning of the day for about five minutes. We typically do breathing and visualization exercises. This meditation time seems to set the tone for the school day.”

Counselor

“I incorporate mindfulness practices into my work with individuals, small group, and classrooms. I encourage students to be mindful of their peers and have them answer questions on ways they can be mindful.”

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-tenney/why-the-mindfulness-fad-wont-go-away_b_9352404.html

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Citations of References:

 

Barreto, N. (2015). FROM THE FIELD Mindfulness: A Teacher's Practice. California Reader, 49(1), 37-40.

 

Covey, S. R., Covey, S., Summers, M., & Hatch, D. K. (2014). The Leader In Me. Simon and Schuster.

 

Gates, M., & Hinder, S. J. (2016). Good Morning Yoga - A pose by pose wake up story. Sounds True, Incorporated.

 

GoNoodle for Schools. (2012-2016). Retrieved from https://www.gonoodle.com/

 

Hannay, C. (2012-2016). Mindful Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulteachers.org/

 

Harris, A. (2016). MINDFULNESS FOR CHILDREN. Retrieved from http://annakaharris.com/mindfulness-for-children/

 

Helpguide (n.d.) Benefits of Mindfulness. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm

 

J. (2012, April 12). Guided Relaxation for Kids - Peace Out! Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5uIZ2KOZZeQDQo_Gsi_qbQ

 

Mindfulness Definition. (n.d.). Retrieved 2016, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mindfulness

 

Mindful Schools. (2010-2016). Mindful Schools. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulschools.org/

 

Sounds True. (2016, February 22). Good Morning Yoga by Mariam Gates - Book Reading. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-a4iOERMRs

 

Wonders, L. (2016, October 29). Mindfulness for Children: Helping Kids Feel Calm. Retrieved from http://wonderscounseling.com/mindfulness-for-children-helping-kids-feel-calm/

 

*Sources of the images provided are listed directly below the image.*

 
By: Audrey Mungovan & Cassidy Gray