So, as all good intentions have it, I had planned to write about all that I was doing in my classroom with mindfulness. As the year went on, I found myself feeling completely overwhelmed and preoccupied with all that I was trying to do. This past year was a big year. I implemented flexible seating and it was the first full school year where I was using mindfulness. So, in trying to live what I was a preaching, I decided to be mindful about what I was doing in the moment and the blog went to the wayside.
Now it is summertime! Oh how I love summertime! My plan is to update this blog weekly with the tidbits that I have learned from a full year of mindfulness in my classroom. Boy did I learn a lot! I will share what I did, what I chose not to do, and what worked and did not work.
Today, I want to share what some of my students told me as a result of an end of the year evaluation. This is where I learned the most. See, you don’t always know what your students are thinking by looking at them or listening to them talk to one another. That was my biggest take away from this year. I have been reminded that especially middle school students feel as though they have an image to uphold all of the time. Mindfulness should be something that helps them to learn to be themselves and not “worry” what others are thinking. However, they still do. I learned that the act of meditating or just taking time to sit with yourself is actually very difficult for them because the thing that is first and foremost in their mind is “what is everyone else thinking”? Many times when we would get done with an exercise or mindful minute, there would be giggles or comments about how they just wanted to fall asleep. I often took that as this was not working or it was something that they were just not grasping. I even gave up on mindfulness for a month just because I let all of this get to me. I can now admit that I was so very wrong!
If you read some of my earlier blogs, I mentioned how I would ask my students to write about their experiences with mindfulness. Often I would ask them how they were using it outside of school or if they were finding that it was helping them to relax and focus. If you are planning to use this with your students, I can tell you that asking them to write about their feeling about mindfulness is SOOO important! This is where I learned the truth from them.
At the end of the school year, I ask my students to reflect on the year, reflect on what we did in class and then write a true assessment of the class as well as my role in it. The last question on the survey asks them to write about what they will remember about the class when they are 50 years old. This is my favorite question because it gives some of the most colorful answers. To a middle school student, 50 years old seems ancient. Many feel as though they will be on their death beds or simply too old to remember anything. However, this year, I was so pleasantly surprised to find that more than half of my students wrote that they would remember learning mindfulness. Here is some of what they said…
“When I’m 50 years old, I will definitely remember our time together! Your mindfulness and positive spirit will stick with me all my life!”
“My best learning experience was not really learning but mindfulness was really helpful. Mindfulness helped me focus and do better with my grades.”
“Mrs Murphy you helped me to stay calm with the mindfulness and keep up with my work. I am very thankful to have had you as a teacher.”
“You helped me address mindfulness something that I think schools and people should practice more often. I was interested in this because everybody needs to take a moment sometimes and just relax and be mindful!”
“You showed me how to be mindful and stay calm in stressful situations. My best learning experience was that when I have big tests and I am stressed to be mindful.”
“You helped me stay calmer. I liked that we often did Focus Friday. It calmed me down and helped me a lot.”
“I will remember to take a deep breathe when I’m angry or nervous and just relax and be confident. I will spend time on mindfulness exercises that we did.”
“In the beginning of the year I was stressed but since you did the Mindful Minute I was way calmer.”
“You were a great influence on me this year because you taught me how to calm myself down and helped me in the times that I needed.”
So many of the students blew me away with what they had to say about our time doing mindfulness. Many of them who wrote about it were the exact students that I thought didn’t like it or found it silly. Oh how wrong I was! It seems that those who outwardly seemed to dismiss mindfulness really were the ones who took it in the most. They were the ones who needed it the most. I had an “ah ha” moment reading these responses because it was so clear to me that those who were the most agitated in class with the exercises were that way because they were the ones carrying the most worry about how they appear to others.
This study of mindfulness has taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. It has taught me about myself. It has taught me more about my students than I could have ever imagined. It has been the single most important change that I have made to my teaching practice. I look forward to sharing more of what I have done with you. I am still learning and have an even bigger passion for learning and sharing more about mindfulness after this year!