Creating A Community of Mindful Learners

Creating A Community of Mindful Learners

Sometimes you teach what you know well, and sometimes you teach what you want to know better. Mindfulness is definitely a skill that is under development and I am learning right along with the students.  As a digital immigrant, my life has transitioned from simple face-to-face interactions and long conversations on the telephone to pop-up notifications and the buzzing dings that demand my attention. For me, mindfulness is not about meditation, it is about awareness; of inhabiting my body and my mind in a healthy and mature way.  As I think about the precious learners in our class, I think about their futures and how they might handle stress and relationships in this digital age that is ever evolving at such a rapid pace, a pace that makes it difficult to manage at times. That is why I wholeheartedly agree that mindfulness is not something you teach kids to “calm them down” but to teach them how to do as part of their daily habits, which I think of as mental hygiene.

Because I feel so strongly that this is a life skill, I have been more consistent in cultivating a practice in our classroom. It all started as experimentation and a curiosity into a line of inquiry (how we learn best) when we began our Who We Are unit, but then, due to the illness and fluctuation in our teaching team, the routine seemed important and necessary to send “well wishes” to people struggling with health issues. I feel quite fortunate because, at my school, I am not seen as the “kooky hippie”, but a fellow practitioner of mindfulness and receive support in teaching lessons. Members of our counseling team come to class 2 times a week to provide support lessons based on the work of the Mindful Schools program.And what I find most interesting was, in our recent student surveys, students put learning about their brain (which is something that I do as a component of the practice) as one of their favorite activities. So clearly, they are curious about how the mind works and want to develop this awareness of themselves and others. In our recent One World Day assembly, classes were invited to present ideas related to the United Nations’ Global Goals. We reflected on the goal of health and well-being and I interviewed a few of our students about mindfulness and who are the people they have compassion for, which I refer to as “well wishes”.  It was a supremely sweet and telling moment when I did this, as I learned a lot about what my students value and care about. You can see the video here in this post.

We also demonstrated a bit of our practice with the audience, as the ringing of the brass bell signaled a moment to breathe and reflect on who or what we want to send well-wishes to. Then we took turns sharing our well-wishes.

One thing that is both wonderful and terrible about mindfulness is that it is never “learned”. You can’t have book knowledge about this topic. It is a practice, a skill, a habit which is ongoing and evolving. I do believe that the residual effects of this practice may not be seen immediately, but I feel hopeful that this intention to have a culture of mindfulness will have a lasting impact. Becoming more mindful, creating space between thoughts, developing focus and awareness, and cultivating compassion for others and oneself is, I believe, something that all our students, young or old, can benefit from and need in order to cope with the transitions and challenges that their future holds.

Perhaps you too have been curious about implementing this sort of habit into your classroom. I strongly encourage you! And if others would like to share their experience in the comments below, I welcome your ideas and suggestions.

May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be safe.
May you be healthy.
May you be love.
And my students love to throw in…
May you be smart.

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Judy Imamudeen

Judy Imamudeen

Developing learners as leaders is my joy! As a highly qualified International Baccaluearate (IB) teacher and educational leader, I am committed and passionate about executing its framework and empowering students in creating a future world that works for everyone.

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