Mindfulness is all the rage right now, and for very good reasons. There are numerous benefits for educators and students. Studies have shown that mindfulness can help:
- Make your classroom a safe space
- Decrease stress and anxiety in students and teachers
- Increase performance in academics
- Decrease aggression and negative behaviors
- Create a positive class and school culture
Read even more about the wondrous benefits of mindful classrooms here 🙂
Ready to bring more mindfulness to your classroom? We thought so! Here are eight easy ways to have a more mindful classroom:
Start class with a mindful meditation
A short mindfulness activity or meditation can be a wonderful way to start your class/day off-centered and ready to learn 🙂 We even recommend you participate to model and also reap the benefits of mindfulness along with your students.
It’s definitely an investment of time, but well worth it! A few minutes at the start of class helps students prepare to learn and feel confident/positive about their day.
You might even find yourself getting even further in your lessons (or stronger lesson retention) than ever before, even while “losing” those first few minutes for a mindful meditation.
Extra bonus: you are adding coping skills and tools for your students to use throughout their lives. Thinking big picture about their happiness and success: these are invaluable benefits.
There are tons to choose from on Youtube (be sure to preview first to ensure appropriateness for your students’ levels and maturity). Play around with ones you like, ask for feedback from your students on which ones really worked for them 🙂
To get started, here are some of our favorites:
- 3 min Honest Guys Mindful Meditation
- 1 min Mindfulness Meditation
- 5 min Anywhere Meditation
- 1 min Meditation
- 4 min You are Amazing Honest Guys Meditation
Add yoga flows to your classroom routines
Yoga is also a great mindfulness tool. Yoga encourages deep breathing and connection to how you feel.
Help your students channel distracted/squirrely energy into something positive. Yoga moves the body while encourages comfort and confidence with who you are.
Being present in the moment while moving your body is such a powerful experience. Carve out some time during your weekly schedule to enjoy some mini yoga flows as a class.
We have many awesome and free yoga flows to help you with tricky situations/transition times that can happen during the school day. Here are a few to get you started:
Mindful brain breaks
Are you noticing your students getting restless or disconnecting from your lesson/their work? It might be time for a mindful brain break!
These brain breaks can be whatever would work best for you and your students (and can even be content-specific). Feel free to be as creative as you can!
Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started:
- Play a game! Apples to apples can be fun for ELA classes, Uno or Mighty Mathsters are great review games for Math classes
- Do a mini Meditation: here’s a fun one minute option
- Do a 5 min yoga flow together
- Wiggle/dance it out: put on a fun song and just let loose 🙂
You can even use breaks as a reward. When all students have finished an assignment/project, perhaps you play a classbuilder/teambuilder game. These games help develop prioritization, problem-solving, and leadership skills, so they’re full of their own benefits as well 🙂
Our Welcome to Mindfulness SEL unit has lots of fun class building and team building activities to choose from! These make fantastic mindful brain breaks!
Consider incorporating some lessons on Mindfulness. Perhaps show an informational video on the benefits of Mindfulness practices. This is a great way to get buy-in from students to participate in mindfulness practices.
You can also have students practice identifying their feelings. We have a great activity for practicing this. It even has an incredible list of potential positive ways to cope with negative feelings/experiences!
Help students to see It’s okay to not have mastered something yet. Growth Mindset is wonderful for developing this perspective. We have some awesome activities to help students learn the difference between fixed and growth mindset as well as the amazing power of yet 🙂
If you’re not sure you’ll have time for it, perhaps consider using our Just Press Play Sub Plan on Mindfulness for the next day you’ll be out of the classroom.
Create opportunities to positively process feelings
Things happen in and out of the classroom. Just like when a student cusses you out, it can help to talk about it or process the experience. And it takes some time to cool down and let it go.
Students can also benefit from time to process their experiences. Especially if it is new, scary, unexpected, or traumatizing.
If something happens and the whole class is shaken up, take the time to process as a class. You can model different mindfulness and coping strategies. Y’all can work through it together 🙂
If just one student is really feeling something, perhaps give them time and space to identify their feelings and process it positively. Our Identifying Emotions worksheet is an excellent tool to help students figure out how they’re feeling and it’s something kind they can do for themselves to feel better.
Giving students the time and space to feel their feelings and the tools to process them productively is huge for your ensuring your classroom is a safe place. Plus, these are essential life skills for them to begin developing with support and care.
Imagine if you had learned some of these things when you were younger?
Teenage years are hard enough. Anything we can do to help students feel comfortable and confident in who they are is a huge win!
Deep breathing / breath breaks
Don’t have time for a full mindful brain break activity? That’s okay! Take 30 seconds to do some deep breathing as a class
There are lots of ways to incorporate deep breathing, play around with what works best for you and your students. Here are some options to try first :
- Try 4-7-8 breathwork help to slow the heart rate, its great if something unexpected happened (like a fire drill) and/or the students are all riled up (like after lunch). To do this breathe in for a count of 4, hold at the top for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8.
- 4-4-4-4 breathwork is great to ground and calm silly energy. Inhale for a count of 4, hold at the top for a count of 4, exhale for four, and hold for four before inhaling again.
- 4-5 Breathwork is a quick and simple option as well. Inhale for four and exhale out the mouth for a count of five.
Allow it to be a process
Mindfulness is also about growing and evolving. It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact perhaps try to release perfection as a goal. I’ll offer you the goal of adventure/going with the flow instead.
Let mindfulness in your classroom evolve and grow along with your students. It can adapt to be what they need in that moment. In fact, that’s what it is all about 🙂
That way, it can support their needs as they grow and change. Mindfulness won’t get boring and stale if it keeps changing.
It’s okay if that feels scary at first. You don’t have to get rid of your tried and true routines. But feel free to experiment with new things.
It’s okay if something flops, maybe it will go great another time. Process with your students on why it didn’t quite work out.
Model for them your own growth mindset and how to handle situations that don’t work out quite as you expected. This is a great life skill as life events often surprise us.
Imagine how much better off your students will be if they feel confident to handle life’s little bumps and obstacles with a smile and a positive attitude.
Be prepared with resources
Mindfulness will help students connect with themselves. As they become more present in their day-to-day activities, it is possible for them to recognize some negativity, toxicity, or trauma. Some parts of their day they used to view as normal do not make them feel good and maybe are not okay.
It is an honor for your students to open up and share with you. This is a great opportunity to direct them to supportive resources.
Even though it can hurt your generous hearts to hear these traumatizing tales, your students will be better off in the long run with caring and supportive adults and supportive resources involved. And you helped get them there!
Be ready and prepared with potential supports if your students disclose things to you: your school is full of them. Some great school resources likely available at your school/district are:
- Social worker
- School nurse
- Behavior coach
- School counselor
- Free counseling/supports available in your community
If you’re noticing many of your students have experienced (or are experiencing) trauma perhaps consider some of these ways to include trauma sensitivity in your classroom.
Remember: you’ve got this! It’s okay if some of this feels a little overwhelming. It likely is for your students too. You can always process positively together 🙂