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Mindfulness in the Classroom:
Five Skills That Influence Your Ability to Work With All Kinds of Learners

By Dr. Joseph Galasso and Elise Aportela

About the Authors

Dr. Joseph Galasso provides professional development and special interest consultation and training to schools, teachers, and educators.

Elise Aportela is the education coordinator with Head Start.

Skill 2: Be Present

Becoming self-aware will help create new moments and more opportunities to teach students, especially the child you might be feeling disconnected from, or in constant conflict with. Having greater self-awareness should help to make you more emotionally and cognitively available as a teacher, by keeping you present and in the moment. That concept often is referred to as being in the here-and-now.

Being present is an elusive construct because it can quite literally mean to be in attendance, or as applied to our model of skill sets, as being wholly there in a moment of time.

The ability to be more present hinges very greatly on your ability to become self-aware, because as you feel tension in your body, you notice greater reactivity and conflict between yourself and the children in your class, peers, or family. That awareness makes it easier to take the time to re-center yourself and the children in your class.

Read More

Be sure to read all six parts of “Mindfulness in the Classroom: Five Skills That Influence Your Ability to Work With All Kinds of Learners.”
* Part 1: Working With Diverse Learners
* Part 2: Be Self-Aware
* Part 3: Be Present
* Part 4: Be Connected
* Part 5: Be Creative
* Part 6: Teach Resilience

Being present becomes a tougher request as the demands of the classroom become more quantitative and achievement oriented, because it affects the pace and tempo at which activities need to be achieved and completed. How can one try to be present when there is so much to do?

The path toward increasing your ability to be more present in the classroom can be enhanced by taking the time to (a) pay attention/observe; (b) breathe; and (c) be gentle.

Paying attention and observing your class during an activity, while everyone is working, will help orient you to the nuances and flow of the classroom. Take a moment to take in the sounds, and to observe the class as if it were happening on a movie screen. Allow a moment to acquaint yourself with each of the characters in the scene. Then, when you are ready to be a part of the scene, focus your breathing (making sure to feel your diaphragm expand and contract with each steady breath), and release any tension. Finally, gently insert yourself into the scene and continue to remain attuned to the flow and movement of the class.