Last month, two (awesome) colleagues and I led a "Week of Mindfulness" for our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. The goal was to have teachers and students practicing some form of mindfulness each day in their classrooms, for about 5-10 minutes. We kicked off the week by going into each classroom on Monday and teaching the teachers/kids what mindfulness is, how to have a mindful body, mindful breathing, and - if time allowed - a short mindful listening activity with the bell. For the remainder of the week, teachers could choose from various activities (scripts, online recordings, etc.) to bring mindfulness into their classroom each day, preferably at some sort of transition time. We pulled easy-to-implement ideas from resources such as The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland, The Impact Curriculum, and the Smiling Minds program.
The response from both teachers and kids was great! Specifically, most teachers have reported* that the mindfulness activities were beneficial to their class and they'd like another Week of Mindfulness next school year. Ten of the 15 teachers who responded to our survey said they have continued mindfulness activities in their classroom, ranging from 1-2 times a week to 4-5 times a week. Most teachers use Smiling Minds as their primary resource, although others use yoga breathing exercises and the Insight Timer. Teachers who have continued mindfulness in their classroom rate student engagement in activities at an average of 7.2 (on a scale of 1-10). One hundred percent of teachers who responded to our survey said they would like to learn more about how to bring mindfulness into their classroom. Open feedback included: "neat concept," "hugely beneficial practice for me and my class," "something we should be far more aware of," and "you guys rock!" We also got some great feedback on how to improve the Week of Mindfulness in the future, specifically having whole grade kick-offs, and implementing "continuing ed" where the three of us come to classrooms periodically to introduce new ideas and mindfulness activities. From my own perspective, I'd love to implement the Week of Mindfulness much earlier in the year, and involve all our early childhood students and all specialist teachers (e.g. PE, music, art, dance, drama, and library/tech).
The response from the kids was also fantastic. Comments were captured in Google docs, on post-its, and on classroom mindfulness board:
"When you're really angry or upset, it helps me to get calm."
"It cleared my thoughts that keep running through my head"
"After time, you get used to being calm"
"Once a day to get that feeling in you, it makes you really happy"
"You feel so relaxed when you can imagine"
Being mindful means to think before you speak or do something...“being mindful to other people or aware of something. I also think it means managing your distractions
I think that being mindful means to think before you do something and it means that having empathy plus staying calm.
...Sometimes just listen to the noises around you.
Mindful means being careful and being focused and noticing what’s around you and being respectful.
I think it means think what you're going to say before you speak because it might hurt other people’s feelings.
Being mindful means thinking twice before you do anything...being aware and learning from your mistakes
Mindful means that you are paying attention to the person that is talking and you are focus on the person & not thinking of something else in your mind , and you don’t get distracted.
* These results are preliminary and will be updated when/if more teachers respond to our survey :)