Face it- teaching is stressful. Yet, you don’t have to be stressed out. Mindfulness can help you. That’s why mindfulness and teachers are a great combination.
I know what you’re thinking-
Isn’t mindfulness some mumbo-jumbo practice?
Not really. It’s just being fully in the moment. Actually, it’s something you already do. Simply, you may not make a focused effort on it.
Think about it-
Have you ever sat and stared at something going on around you (like an ant moving about looking for food)? Did you reflect on the moment?
Guess what- you practiced mindfulness. You just didn’t do it on purpose. It just happened.
How did you feel in that moment? Did you feel relaxed? Were you stressed out?
I’m guessing it was the opposite.
Just think what your life would be like if you made mindfulness a habit? Here’s a few of the benefits you get if you incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
React Positively With Others
One of the tenets of mindfulness is that you don’t judge the situation. Even more, you don’t judge how you’re feeling in the moment.
That’s right. You remove any positive or negative evaluation from the equation. The situation just happens. Feelings aren’t good or bad. They simply exist.
Doesn’t that take the pressure off. As a teacher, you are evaluating people and situations all day.
- grading is judging a student’s performance
- monitoring behavior causes you to assign a good/ bad label on a student’s action
- self-reflecting on the outcomes of a lesson forces you to judge your own performance
All of this judgmentally takes its toll. As a result, your on edge.
You “get in your feelings”.
Maybe, you react negatively to a comment someone has made. Or, you over-react to a student’s behavior.
Let’s be honest, it happens. You’re stressed, and you react.
Wouldn’t it be better if you instead of reacting to the situation, you acted thoughtfully and rationally because you’re in control of yourself?
That’s what mindfulness does for you.
It allows you to control your own emotions.
Instead of reacting, you act intentionally.
You’ve thought through the situation, and you act in a manner that’s best for you and others.
You won’t get “triggered” anymore.
You know your triggers. More importantly, you know how to not let them bother you and move past them.
Ultimately, you interact more positively with others.
Since you’ll be more fully aware of your surroundings, you’ll be open to more opportunities to use those surroundings in your lessons.
In effect, you’ll have increased creativity.
Here’s a story as proof-
I was in the middle of lesson one day when an administrator walked in. She had her clipboard out, and she was ready to take notes on how the lesson was going.
We were in the middle of discussing making cross-cultural connections with literature. My students always struggle with this concept.
I could feel their frustration. My own frustration was growing. I could sense the administrator’s frustration.
So what did I do?
First of all, I asked them an open-ended question that required that they think deeply for a moment. Why did I do that?
I needed to be mindful myself. I needed a moment to refocus my thoughts and de-stress so that I could tackle the concept from another angle.
What did I do while they thought?
I looked around and focused on my surroundings.
What did I notice?
Of course, a couple of students were off task. As I moved to redirect these students, I noticed a new patch on a student’s backpack.
It was Star Wars, and this girl didn’t like Star Wars! So, I asked her about it.
Her dad made her go watch the new Star Wars movie. She was so interested in it that she went home and watched the whole series!
Her dad bought her the patch the next day! She had made a connection with her dad through Star Wars!
How did this help me? I was able to use this girl’s weekend experience to teach the concept?
The end result?
A great comment on my evaluation from the administrator.
Seriously, my student’s grasped a concept they struggled with because I practiced mindfulness.
Being in the moment allowed me to be creative.
Also, it helped me remove distractions. I forgot all about the two students having a conversation. Incidentally, they forgot all about their conversation when I began mine about the patch.
Finally, with all the distractions removed and the stress decreased, I could focus better.
Basically, a minute of mindfulness saved my lesson!
Slows The Pace
Have you ever looked up at the clock at the sound of the dismissal bell and wondered where the time has gone?
Of course, you have.
The school day is fast paced. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it.
How often do you wait to even go to the bathroom because there’s no time?
All of this fast paced action wears you out.
Yes, there’re ways to streamline the process and make teaching easier (Read some of my other posts for tips on that like where to find great lesson plans that save time for free!).
But, what if you could slow down the pace in the midst of all of that action?
Practicing a few minutes of mindfulness does that for you!
In less than 10 minutes, you can take a moment for yourself, refocus your thoughts, create distance from your situation, and think rationally and objectionably.
Isn’t all of that worth the 10 minutes?
What if there was a way to do it in 7 minutes? Find out how at the end of this post.
How often have you rushed through your lunch to squeeze out 10 more minutes to grade more papers?
Wouldn’t be more effective to use that time for yourself?
Think about it-
You’d be refreshed to take on the rest of your day. In addition, you’d put whatever happened in the earlier part of the day behind you.
Also, you would slow the pace down so that you can enjoy the rest of your day.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
I’ve already said it- teaching is stressful. It’s true.
Yet, you don’t have to feel the effects of that stress.
By using mindfulness to focus on the present, you remove the pressures of the past and the future.
Whatever has happened in the past can be a hindrance to you if you let it.
That’s the key. You have to choose to let go of the past so that you can move past it.
I learned that lesson from The Lion King. You know what I’m talking about? When Timon and Pumba are telling Simba that he has to put “his behind in his past.”
I know, they got it backward, yet it’s true.
You need to put your past behind you.
Whatever happened yesterday is done. Little Johnny acted up yesterday, and this is today.
Not only are you not living in yesterday, you’re not living in tomorrow.
It does no good to obsess over future test scores. That only makes you anxious.
Instead, enjoy the present by being mindful and watch the stress and anxiety melt away.
With mindfulness, there’s no second guessing.
There’s no what could’ve been or what happens next.
Matter of fact, there’s only what is happening now.
And there’s freedom in that.
Mindfulness and Teachers Were Made for Each Other
If there’s ever a profession that needs to practice mindfulness, it’s teaching.
There’s so many things that can go wrong.
You have so much responsibility.
The stress level is through the roof.
Yet, mindfulness will help you lower that stress, slow down the pace, improve your performance, and react positively with others.
To find out how to practice mindfulness in only 7 minutes, read my 7 Minute Mindfulness Review (Yes, it’s found on my other website livingwithvigor.com). It’s guaranteed to help you achieve mindfulness in only 7 minutes.
If you have a comment or question, leave me a comment. You know teachers, we love to share what works.
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Most of all, remember that teaching is a great privilege and not a burden.