BLOG

BALANCING MORE THAN THE CURRICULUM

By waiting a minute

After reading Mindfulness for Teachers by Patricia A. Jennings last spring, I started to wait 10 – 15 seconds before I redirected a student.  I took that time to observe him/her to truly figure out what (s)he is doing. Sometimes this student was actually off task, but only for a matter of seconds.  Sometimes when I looked carefully enough I could see deep thinking, which would have been shattered if I interrupted.  Sometimes, they simply felt me watching, in a non-judgmental way, which seemed to give them the courage to ask me a question.  If nothing else, it gave me the time to center and, if needed, respond to the off task behavior rather than react to it.

                                                           

                                                                      Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

SETTING SUMMER INTENTIONS

To find your balance

Usually at the beginning of each summer, I make a list of tasks that I want to accomplish.  Typically, I set these goals knowing that I cannot possibly accomplish all of them in the amount of time I have.  This summer, I have decided to set a couple of intentions instead.  First I intend to practice living in the moment and do whatever I am doing like there is nothing else to be done.  Second, I intend to practice consciously choosing what I want to do rather than falling into mind-numbing activities (eating, computer games, channel surfing…just to name a few).  Because these are intentions of practice and not goals to achieve, it feels much less stressful to me.  When I do find myself living outside the moment or numbing my mind, I can gently bring myself back on course. I am interested to see if this practice helps me to not only enjoy my summer more, but also helps me to build the habit that can carry through the next school year.

                                                            Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

REEXAMINING RULES

To find your balance

The other day I was deciding how to start my day and I was not motivated to do the 3-mile walk I usually set out to do each morning.  Because I needed to mow the lawn, I started to rationalize not doing my walk at all by telling myself that mowing would be exercise enough to skip the walk.  However, there was a part of me that was really going to miss the early morning air and the quiet that comes with my walks.  It was then I realized that I didn’t need to do the whole 3 miles. Just because I made up that rule didn’t mean I had to follow it every day.  I was able to motivate myself to walk for two miles and was very glad to be out early enjoying the air, not to mention 2 miles of walking was better than no miles of walking.

                                                            Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

STOP LOOKING FOR WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN

To find your balance

I attended a talk given by Pete Sanders, founder of the Free Soul Method, and he asked us how many of us believe everything happens for a reason. Although most of us raised our hands, Pete stated, “I don’t believe everything happens for a reason; I believe s**t happens.” He went on to explain that he believes that there isn’t necessarily a reason for our troubling times, and that what we do with them up to us. We can choose to use them to build our anger or to help us grow. As I reflected on this thought, I found myself feeling a sense of relief. Instead of using time and energy to react and ask why something happened, I can use that time and energy to give myself space to center and weed out excess negativity so that I can respond in a more peaceful, rational way.

 

                                                                    Don’t forget to find today’s balance!

BALANCING MORE THAN THE CURRICULUM

By focusing on rhythm rather than routine

This summer I was able to “attend” an on-line Integrated Arts Conference sponsored by Education Closet.  One of the strategies Laura Wixon suggested to integrate art into the classroom is to focus on rhythm rather than routine.  When we focus on routine, we strive to “check off a certain number of boxes” in a certain amount of time; however when we focus on rhythm, although we still set goals to achieve, we become more mindful of the moment and pay more attention to student learning.  In this very busy time of preparation for the new school year, I have been practicing this idea of rhythm by taking notice of how I am feeling and how efficiently I am working.  If I feel focused and engaged, I continue to work until I start to lose concentration, then I change activity or take a break.  I find that not only am I able to get done what needs to get done, I feel calmer doing it.

         

                                                                                Don't forget to find today's balance!

BALANCING MORE THAN THE CURRICULUM

By normalizing uncomfortable feelings

 

I was fortunate to attend a talk given by Lynn Lyons about teaching skills to prevent anxiety and depression.  She talked about the fact that students, and adults, are often taught ways to avoid feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as worry, fear, and anger.  By accepting the fact that these feelings come up and are a natural part of being human, we cannot only move beyond them, we can also experience more that life has to offer. I have made an intention this year to practice and teach the understanding that uncomfortable feelings are normal and temporary.  As students encounter difficult concepts, I will remind them of things they have learned that were not always easy for them in hopes they start to understand the process of learning.  When students feel anxious about something, I will empathize, letting them know it’s ok to feel anxious now, and it will feel better soon.

                                                           

                                                                                         Don’t forget to find today’s balance!