I am a middle school teacher. I teach reading to 11 and 12 year old boys and girls. Often when I tell people what age level I work with, they say the same thing…”ugh, what a terrible age”. The truth is, sometimes it is a tough age to work with. The students that I have are starting a new chapter in their lives (middle school) and they usually enter as babies and within a few months start acting like teenagers. They fluctuate between wanting independence and wanting their mom. They are full of hormones and anxiety.
What I have noticed the most in the last 16 years at this level is the ever increasing amount of anxiety that my students have. I know that kids this age have always been worried about friends, homework, sports, etc. However, when I talk to my students now, they are full of all kinds of anxieties that I thought were saved for adults. I have students who cannot even make it to school on a regular basis because their fears and stresses prevent them from even getting out of bed. During parent conferences, I have had more and more parents burst into tears because they do not know what to do to help their anxiety ridden children. They talk of sleepless nights and meltdowns that rival a toddler. It has been more than eye opening to see how this trend is getting worse and worse.
Not only do I see students with anxiety on a daily basis, but I am surrounded by colleagues and friends that are more stressed than ever. At work, my colleagues are dealing with everything that we have always dealt with as teachers, but are now juggling APPR, new state regulations, more data collection than ever, and the media scrutiny that blames us for the demise of society.
Enter Mindfulness! Earlier this year, I attended a workshop that was promoted as something that would help me to help my students who suffer from anxiety. I was very interested in the topic and was thrilled to be getting to leave the classroom to learn something new (we don’t get these opportunities often anymore). What I got out of the workshop was so much more than I could have expected. Not only did I leave with many activities and ideas for activities with my students, I left with many ways to better myself. I began reading every book I could get my hands on regarding mindfulness. I also downloaded every app, looked for every class, and researched whatever I could find.
I immediately began incorporating mindfulness into my classroom even before I had done all of the reading and research. This was very new for me since I tend to be someone who is very thorough and overthinks everything before I start anything. Most importantly, I began incorporating mindfulness into my everyday life. Within the first week, my husband was already complimenting me on the changes that it was making in me as a wife and mother. You know how things happen for a reason and happen at a specific time for a reason, well this is one of those things for me. It has happened at the perfect time for me!
I have started this blog to document the ways that I am sharing mindfulness with my students as well as how I am using it in my day to day life. I am NOT an expert and will never claim to be. Instead, I am learning about mindfulness every day and finding ways to share it with everyone that I can. For me it has been life changing. I don’t know if anyone will read what I have to say, but I hope if someone does, they will see the great benefits of mindfulness and look to add it to their life as well!