Research is increasingly demonstrating the powerful impacts of mindfulness, from improved focus to better sleep and reduced stress. Now more than ever, as students are increasingly stressed and anxious, teaching mindfulness in the classroom is invaluable. When students learn and practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation, mindful breathing, and body scans, this can help them thrive both in and outside of the classroom. This strategy supports teachers to embed mindfulness activities into the classroom culture to support students' social-emotional wellbeing.
Do some initial reading and research into mindfulness practices that can be used in the classroom.
If you do not already, consider building some regular mindfulness practices into your own life outside of the classroom, so that you can build your own expertise and experience to better support students. The resource section below includes a one-minute mindfulness activity that you can try right at your desk!
Decide how much time, and how often, to dedicate to students learning and practicing mindfulness. Even short "mindful moments" can give students the opportunity to pause and rest their minds.
Decide which mindfulness practices to introduce to students and how to prepare them for the activity.
Consider using a script or pre-made lesson, such as the lesson linked in the resource section below from Mindful Schools, to introduce the concept of mindfulness. For some students, the idea of focusing on breathing or being silent in a large group may initially make them uncomfortable, so it is important to roll out your mindfulness practices purposefully.
Engage in an initial mindfulness activity with students. See the resources section below for a wide variety of activities to try!
Before beginning, make it clear that mindfulness is a special time. Ask students to clear off desks, perhaps move to the carpet, or have all chairs face the front of the room. Ask students not to take bathroom breaks and refrain from talking and moving during the mindfulness acitivity.
Consider doing a short mindfulness activity the first time, such as a 3-minute guided body scan or 2-minute guided breathing. Then, build up to longer periods of mindfulness.
Continue practicing mindfulness in your classroom. Use the resources below to explore a variety of ways to embed mindfulness practices into students' lives.
Mindfulness is a critical part of distance learning, as we all face increased hours in front of a computer screen. Use the following strategies in either a synchronous or asynchronous setting.
Read the "Calm Schools Initiative" and the "Mindfulness Toolkits" resources in the resource section below about the benefits of mindfulness and tips for teaching mindfulness to students.
As you read, consider the importance of mindfulness in a distance learning setting. For example, many students are on computer screens for many hours a day, live in small spaces with a lot of people, or are not getting as much physical exercise as usual.
Explore the resources below. Many mindfulness and meditation apps listed in the resource section below offer free or reduced subscriptions for students.
Determine which resources you will use or offer to students in distance learning.
Introduce students to mindfulness techniques. If mindfulness is a new practice for your students, consider setting norms and expectations for how to engage in this work.
In a synchronous setting, norms might include everyone muting themselves and turning their video off and an agreement to respect everyone's practice.
In an asynchronous setting, norms might include finding a quiet space in your house or practicing mindfulness for a specific number of minutes.
Determine how you want to embed mindfulness into your distance learning instruction. Some ideas include:
Embedding mindfulness practices into your synchronous instruction. For example, beginning each synchronous setting with mindfulness techniques or breathing exercises or using a breathing or stretching exercise as a brain break for students. To do this, consider sharing your screen, playing calming music, and encouraging students to find a calm place in their homes.
Encouraging students to engage in a mindfulness practice asynchronously. Provide resources for students to engage in mindfulness on their own and require them to document what they need and reflect on how it helped them.
For students with limited technology, call students and talk them through tips and strategies to engage in mindfulness activities on their own.
Encouraging students to engage in mindfulness activities with a younger sibling or with a group of friends virtually and reflect on the process.
Consider using the Remind app to send a reminder to all students to practice mindfulness techniques daily. For more information about Remind, see the resource in the resource section below.
Have students reflect on how these mindfulness techniques have supported them in distance learning.
This reflection could be a Google Form, a video created with Loom, or a reflection in a Google document. See the Google Form tutorial in the resource section below for more information.
Students could access this reflection through Google Classroom or your learning management system. Consider having students share how their practice is going with their peers through a FlipGrid or a Padlet.
Incorporating mindfulness techniques into a classroom setting is a great tool teachers can use to better support all students with disabilities to become more engaged participants in their learning. In order to plan effectively to incorporate mindfulness techniques to support students with disabilities in the classroom teachers should consider the following modifications:
This strategy supports the whole learner by providing time, space and strategies to work on reducing stress, and making a connection for learners between the effects stress and academic achievement.
English learners are required to listen and may be required to read when employing this strategy. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:
Preview mindfulness activities. Describe in advance for learners at lower levels of proficiency the purpose and steps of mindfulness activities 1:1 or small group of similar learners. Field questions, ask learners about mindfulness practices or lack thereof in their home cultures and consider doing a shortened trial run for learners who share hesitance or confusion. Consider partnering with learners’ language specialist to use ESL class for preview and practice.
There are a variety of great, free meditation apps and websites available.
Many of the apps provide guided meditation activities of a variety of lengths that can be easily played in the classroom for whole-class mindfulness activity. Alternatively, students can use headphones to independently complete one of the online meditation activities.
Although some apps and websites will charge for guided meditations, there are many available for free, so be sure to look around before paying for anything. See below for a few popular examples.
Class Dojo - Mindfulness
ClassDojo is a multi-faceted classroom management tool focused on reinforcing classroom expectations and communicating those expectations out with the individual student, class, and families.
Recently, ClassDojo has created a series of online activities to introduce students to mindfulness practices. Students begin by learning about the power of emotions, and then practice a variety of techniques - including mindful breathing and movement - to deal with those emotions.
In the development of this strategy, the following research was consulted: