Welp, I am starting a weekly installment of “WHY MINDFULNESS?”. You knew it was coming. I am so passionate about teachers who are teaching mindful minutes, or community circles having their own personal practice. There are so many important reasons why. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.
If you haven’t explored your own quiet mind, confronted your own silent demons, or come face to face with your own humanness, it is impossible to guide others in exploring theirs. If you don’t have that intimate understanding of how anger, love, joy, fear, jealousy, greed, sadness, compassion, and contentment can arise, persist, manifest, fade away, and how they work–how can you expect to explain the whole thing to kids in a way that is meaningful and accessible?
So–Let’s dive into week one’s reason to have your own practice as an educator!
1. Mindfulness helps us manage students we find difficult.
If you’re a teacher, you probably have a problem with at least one student who misbehaves in your classroom. Being mindfully aware helps us notice what might be happening within the classroom that is causing them to misbehave. Sometimes, the environment isn’t developmentally appropriate–for example, we can not expect a kindergartener to sit still and listen to you talk for long periods of time. Or perhaps you have one or more kids that have been exposed to trauma. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that littles of trauma tend to be hyper vigilant. Anything could be a threat, which takes a lot of his or her cognitive resources, causing them to learn more slowly. Or maybe they just shut down because they are overly sensitive to environmental changes.
Mindfulness is a state of non judgemental awareness of what is happening in the present moment. The key word here is ‘non judgemental.’ Just accepting things as they are, in the moment they are happening. When we first begin a mindfulness practice, we often notice just how difficult it can be to not judge. Then it kind of starts to settle when we realize we don’t always have to engage in that judgement–that is when our tendency to judge starts to diminish.
That terrible habit we have of judging can oftentimes arouse feelings of shame or guilt. Sometimes, and please know this is coming from a place of love, teachers judge their students too harshly and then–without even noticing–we use shame and guilt as a behavior management technique with our students. THIS. DOESN’T. WORK. There is plenty of evidence to support that. Rather than encouraging students to behave, it promotes distrust, resentment, embrasement, and retaliation.
“Knowing how we respond to situations–being familiar with our own deep, dark, dungeon of fear, pain, frustration, discouragement, and irritation–can really help us understand the why behind our kiddo’s behavior.”
Paying attention to how we are feeling in a situation can give us clues as to why a student is behaving the way they are and we are better able to assess the situation from a place of compassion and loving kindness. If we feel threatened, the child is likely trying to gain the power in the situation. If we feel hurt or upset, the behavior is likely revenge. If we feel discouraged or sad for the student, he or she is probably shutting down and/or giving up. If we are feeling bothered or irritated, perhaps the student is trying to gain our attention.
Knowing how we respond to situations–being familiar with our own deep, dark, dungeon of fear, pain, frustration, discouragement, and irritation–can really help us understand the why behind our kiddo’s behavior. And it is only after we find that ‘why’ that we can really begin to help children develop the skills they need to change their behavior.
One Moment of clarity can wait another Moment of clarity to me to a minute of clarity can lead to a conversation of clarity and can open up a very trustful relationship between teacher and student
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Exactly! And we need that trusting relationship to enable change!
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