City Silence

Stories from the Well

Educators Utilizing Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom

Posted on 01/07/20 by Abby in Mindful Music Moments

Brain Break in Potosi Middle School

Each weekday morning, 150 schools (and counting) who participate in Mindful Music Moments start their day with a mindfulness prompt focused around a 3- to 5-minute clip of world-class music.

This is an opportunity for both students and teachers to center themselves before jumping into the full school day. Our hope is that this brief routine integrates into every moment, but we acknowledge that this only the beginning five minutes of a seven- to eight-hour school day. So, we asked our educators how they extend these mindful moments into the rest of their class time and beyond.

In the classroom

Amy Siegert at Potosi Middle School in Wisconsin shares how her 6th grade homeroom takes turns spinning a “brain break” wheel to decide their mindful activity. (pictured above)

“I started at the beginning of this school year with it. I purchased it on Amazon. It has 14 spaces on it, and I have put a list of positive affirmations (14 of them) and a list of 14 brain breaks, a list of 14 ways to share/respond to what we're learning about etc. on the wall. We spin the wheel at the beginning of homeroom. Three spins. (I draw names for the 3 students who get to spin.) Each student spins and gets to lead us in one of the brain breaks or other class activities of their choice (depending on the number they spun). Outcomes: eases tension, builds positive energy and community in the class...sometimes it winds them up a bit too loud - ha!-but students know that they have been given time to safely and positively express themselves.”

Some students find calmness in reflecting on their own artwork during classroom transitions. Treva Pryor from Woodford Padeia Elementary in Ohio shares, “We loved the BLINK music by Adams. It was very catchy and relevant to the children. We made an art picture in response to it and said, "This is how I see the Light!" We use it as a calming feature for transitions after morning specials and after afternoon lunch periods.”

Brittany Mollett of Westside Elementary in Wyoming utilizes the buddy system to help students practice slowing down into quiet time, by “having the students find a partner that they want to be as quiet and still as. And, talking about the business of the day and how a moment to be mindful can change our day.”

Outside of the classroom

When we create Mindful Music Moments we are not only thinking about students, but teachers and administrators, too. Our educators are the direct line to the next generation of leaders, thinkers and healers. They are vital to our community and so is their own self-care. How are educators implementing restoration into their lives?

Emily Nutley of Madeira Elementary in Ohio sets boundaries to separate work and home. She makes it possible by having “open communication with colleagues, and trying not to be so available via email on evenings and weekends.”

Deborah Gibson of Barrington Elementary in Ohio, finds nourishment in the natural world by going on walks, ideally without devices, in the woods or in a nature setting. Also by sitting quietly for a few moments with an herbal tea, Deborah contemplates gratitude, a simple comfort that can make her feel calm. And gratitude can do wonders for your mental health!

Amy Horstman of Madeira Preschool in Ohio shared,”I try to get enough sleep! I know that if I don't get enough sleep, I am not at my best the next day.” Many share her sentiment that sleep is crucial to their well-being in and out of the classroom.

Most teachers shared a form of exercise, whether going to the gym or doing yoga, as their way to relieve the tension of the day.

Mindful Music Moments isn’t a solo activity—it is about engaging with the concept of mindfulness as a community. Whether teachers felt they had a sturdy self-care practice outside of classroom or knew they needed to do more work, every teacher we spoke to agreed that mindfulness is important to themselves and their students’ wellbeing. Here, we have aggregated some of the perspectives and thoughts of our educators. But, we encourage the conversation to be continued. Are you an educator? How do you use mindfulness in the classroom? Let us know!