Another video illustrating the power of taking time out of the school day to allow students to calm down and get in the mood for meaningful learning.
My colleague, Chad, and I consistently use “Purposeful Downtime” to get our students back into a mindful state after recess and lunch break.
Our students have taken on the routine of coming into our classrooms, finding a suitable space, lying down and entering a deep relaxation before they continue with their learning.
We have been using a website called calm.com to guide them through the relaxation, but we will shortly start making our own 10 minute relaxation videos that are specifically for our students.
The effect on the students afterwards is quite profound. They tend to be in the ideal state for learning with focus. In this video, we ask them how they think relaxation helps them.
I have always used meditation in the classroom, have experimented with Tai Chi and, more recently, have been doing a lot of Yoga with students. These things have a profound effect every time. However, despite the profound effects each individual time, there also needs to be a progression, the students and I need to know why we’re doing it and how it will have an impact on the way that we live.
Reading Bill and Ochan Powell’s book, “Becoming an Emotionally Intelligent Teacher”, I was reminded of the following quote:
“…humankind does not learn by experience but rather by reflection on experience”
Doing Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi or any other exercise that gives students the time and space to focus on themselves will never be a futile exercise. But, unless they are genuinely thinking about how such exercises may be impacting on their health, behaviour, relationships, mindfulness, ability to think and general well-being they will never truly maximise the potential of those experiences.
Each year, I try to develop my students’ ability to be more mindful about the way they behave. But in order for them to be able to understand that, we have to continue to discuss what mindfulness “looks like” in the different contexts of their lives. We need to set high standards for ourselves and to discuss how meditating can help us reach those standards. I expect to see evidence of such changes in my students in our classroom, in other lessons, moving around the school, interacting with other people and in the way they live their lives outside school. Only then can I be sure it’s no more than just a novelty activity in the class – meditate, then go right back to doing what we did before!!!
Recently, I have been increasingly struck by how true is the wisdom of “native” people, of the “uncivilized” and the “savage”. The people who have been squashed, massacred, enslaved and nearly erased. Take this quote for example:
Today, my students finished their PYP Exhibition. This is a very intense 6-8 weeks of hard work, stress and public scrutiny. When it drew to a close, while kids in other classes were madly tearing their work down (or even destroying it, in some cases), I remembered hearing this quote and acted upon it. I gave my students 10 minutes to sit down and talk with their friends. Then, I asked them to lie down in the meditation pose taught to them by Shem, a student teacher who has been working with us for a couple of months, and asked them to relax completely. I asked them to let the experiences they had just had soak into their brains, their memories and their souls. I asked them to allow their learning to become part of who they are.
I gave them the time to absorb it all.
I gave them the time to develop as people.