Schools today can be fraught with anxiety and stress, which is why introducing meditation and mindfulness into a classroom can instill much-needed calm.
Sound a bit hokey or hippy dippy? No way, say proponents of mindfulness practices. Such techniques can apply to a classroom at great scientific and educational benefit to students.
In short, it’s hard to cultivate a culture of curiosity and patience in an environment that’s heavy on schedules and expectations. The modern school day can be stressful, due in part to the pressure caused by standardized testing, social tension, and dwindling unstructured free time — all issues that affect teachers as well as students.
The true objective of education is to enrich lives in a way that fosters lasting growth and an interest in knowledge, and that’s unlikely to happen if the daily experience is filled with anxiety.
How meditation improves the classroom
Teachers can now explore the different forms of meditation and the scientific and educational benefits of mindfulness practices. They can learn techniques that can apply to classroom management to benefit students.
Meditation for beginners is appropriate for all classrooms and ages and generally focuses on breathing exercises, visualizations, and focus-based meditation in themes like calm, focus, kindness, sleep, wake up, and tailored for age groups 9-12, 6-8, and 5 and under, with regular Headspace being appropriate for older kids (and teachers who need a midday meditation break!).
Three reasons mediation is effective
1) Exploring case studies is a great way to see how other schools have accumulated significant data showing the positive effects of incorporating mindfulness into education. Studies often show that their students are learning essential skills for handling stress, plus improving their memory, capacity to plan and organize, and to feel empathy, all the while improving their test scores.
2) Build better programs: “You wouldn’t ask a teacher who can’t swim to teach a swimming class from a textbook,” says Jamie Bristow, director of The Mindfulness Initiative. He suggests four ways to avoid poorly designed school mindfulness programs + how to get your community to help a mindfulness program thrive.
3) Don’t forget the teachers: According to recent research, training teachers in mindfulness can improve well-being in the classroom.
Getting started with meditation
Teachers can bring mindfulness practices into any classroom after some initial training. But first they must understand the different forms and techniques of meditation.
It is also important that teachers understand parental concerns that might be raised in trying to bring meditation into the classroom and how to address and avoid these concerns.
To learn some basic techniques that can be used in the classroom educators can start by watching a video that provides them with the basics of mindfulness practice.
Further assignments will entail mindfulness practice for at least 15 minutes each day for 5 days. It is best for instructors to set aside the 15 minutes the same time each day as this will help them keep to a schedule, knowing during that time they will practice the instructions. They can then write up a short summary of the experience.
Popular meditation misconceptions
There are a lot of misconceptions about meditation.
Although meditation and the benefits from it are becoming increasingly popular, “meditation”, can be a loaded term for some people. The same applies to “yoga”, “qigong”, or “tai-chi”.
Educators need to be aware of possible concerns for the population at their schools. The hope is that having properly learned best practices one can address these concerns or avoid them all together with just a few simple guidelines.
In terms of meditation, teachers must understand where mindfulness fits in with the other types of teaching.
The exploration of different types of meditation are important and teachers should examine the goals they would like to achieve by bringing meditation into the classroom, or just for personal benefit.
Pick one of the techniques you learn about and bring it into the classroom
Ready to learn more about meditation in the classroom?