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There is now ample evidence that mindfulness practice enhances positive emotions (PDF). Imagine the possibilities if we offered this to young people with developing brains! What if we helped all students make this simple connection and gave them the tools to strengthen their own inner knowing? What if we gave them permission to honor their true genius, even if we can’t measure it on a standardized test? What if we practiced full disclosure and acknowledged that there are many different kinds of intelligence, and that some cannot be measured by conventional means? What if schools gave equal time and emphasis to cultivating things like kindness and compassion?
It might just change everything.
Schools seem to be much more stressful places than they were when I started my teaching career. When teachers can do more, they will. Twitter has provided an infinite number of ‘e-Colleagues’ to learn from. One of the most important things I’ve learned in recent years is to embed mindfulness.
As a language and literature teacher, one of my core responsibilities is inspiring a love of reading, storytelling, and learning. When we think about world-class athletes, we might recognize the amount of warm-up time they take before competing or training. I believe our students need transition time too. In an effort to encourage students to find joy in our subject and to appreciate the benefits of transitioning, I’ve been experimenting with a new way to kick off lessons: “Drop Everything and Zen.”
“Drop Everything and Zen,” is a quick, ten minute transition: students are provided with ‘adult coloring pages,’ and we take time to check out part of an episode from a podcast. I’ve curated a list of podcasts meant to drum up some interest in a variety of stories. I’ve selected podcasts which make for excellent media-diet infusions. Here’s my list of great recommended listening:
This transition is about listening to an interesting story, and listening to ourselves: to that quiet voice that tries to remind us to slow down now and then, to stretch. How can you throw down a kinder ‘welcome mat’ to students? Please share your transition ideas as a comment below.