This work is personal. If we can give ourselves the gift of being present and the ability to respond rather than react, this is one of main strategies we can use to de-escalate students and create a calm peaceful classroom environment.
What the research is showing is that mindfulness is one strategy that can be really helpful, especially for students who have a hard time self-regulating. JHU’s Destress Monday is a free online resource for staff and students. http://www.destressmonday.org/ I encourage you to watch the short video on the teachers program page that gives you an overview. http://www.destressmonday.org/teachers-program/
It is important that you have your own mindfulness practice. Do not underestimate the power and importance of self-care and the breath. To get started you may want to access http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations which has free guided meditations. Or, set your timer starting with only 3 min (then build up to longer) to do some deep relaxing breathing, perhaps focusing on different words as you breath in through your nose for 2 seconds, hold for 3 seconds and exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds. For example, inhale “joy”, hold “love”, exhale “peace”. You may want to do this before you get out of bed in the morning and/or right before the students come to school.
I start my day with a random virtues pick and often shake my phone to get another virtue throughout the day. I read the card and think about how I can use the wisdom in the moment and throughout the day. You can access the cards for the iPhone and the Android at http://www.virtuescards.org/
You may wish to share the video, Kids Explain Mindfulness, with your students and teach them the PBS Strategy, “Pause, Breathe and Smile “.
This is the Loving Kindness Meditation script you may wish to simplify and do with your students when they come back from a transition such as recess or when they get ready to go home. .
My shortened script is as follows:
o May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I live in peace.
o May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live in peace.
o May we all be happy. May we all be healthy. May we all be safe. May we all live in peace.
The roller coaster, high five breath and sharkfin are great to do throughout the day and you can teach your students that they can access utilize these strategies anytime. The Master of Mindfulness has the sharkfin activity, as well as other examples and resources you can share and teach your students. Teach students that when they see their classmates do their sharkfin or with the eyes closed to give them their space. Teach and model not to disrupt someone who is calming down.
These are resources from ASCD’s journal for Educators on Student Mental Health…and I feel are helpful for our own mental health and well-being…
The Mighty: We Face Disability Together – This blog features first person contributions by people telling their story.
PBISWorld.com: This site does not address mental illness directly, however it offers many interventions that address multiple student behaviors
The Child Mind Institute: A non profit committed to “transforming the lives of children struggling with mental health disorders and learning disabilities” and includes a section for teachers.
If you are interested in learning more about about mindfulness in schools, you may wish to explore the different Mindful Schools programs.
This is a link to my mindfulness resource page with a variety of articles, videos and activities
Finally, take a moment to reflect how you can maximize the ahh and yahoo moments for yourself, your loved ones and your students and minimize the uh-oh and yikes moments. Breathing and focusing on gratitude can do just that.
Serotonin: (N) Induces Calm (Ahhh!)
Dopamine: (N) Produces Pleasure (Yahoo!)
Cortisol: (H) Supplies Energy (Uh-oh!)
Epinephrine: (H) Alerts all systems (Yikes!)
Wishing you much joy, meaning, purpose, peace and the gift of presence.