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Simple Breathing Exercises Helped Teachers Improve Their Classrooms

Simple Breathing Exercises Helped Teachers Improve Their Classrooms

According to a recent study from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, having a few breathing exercises in a teacher’s bag of de-stressing tricks can significantly help said teacher improve his or her classroom.

"A forthcoming study has found that giving teachers simple breathing techniques to calm themselves down and regain focus led to improvements in student behavior and academic performance,” said Business Insider of the study.

The study’s leader, Patricia Jennings, said in a statement according to Business Insider, that teachers’ ability to be aware of an increased instance of stress allows them to de-escalate it, therefore resulting in a more controlled and calm classroom.

Specifically, the study involved "224 teachers from 36 New York public elementary schools to participate in five, six-hour-long CARE [Cultivating Awareness and Resilience for Educators] sessions. The sessions taught teachers how to identify specific emotions and stay aware of how their physical behaviors — clenched jaws, slouching posture — might affect their stress levels. They also learned to practice empathy and compassion,” the article said.

Deep breathing, Jennings said, was one of the most successful techniques teachers learned and used. By the end of the study, teachers who had participated in the CARE program "were rated as more emotionally supportive compared to those who did not do the program. The interactions in the classroom were more emotionally positive and the teachers demonstrated greater sensitivity to their students’ needs than controls,” the study found.

Further, the "study also showed the CARE program directly impacted students, as the students in the CARE classrooms were rated as more productive than those in the control group. CARE teachers made better use of instructional time, resulting in students being more involved in learning activities.” 

Many educators are convinced that being more mindful in the classroom can overall create better classrooms.

In May, one ASCD Smartbrief member and veteran educator shared his thoughts on how important mindfulness in the classroom is.

Not only does Patrick Delaney used mindfulness for himself to remain calm and collected, but he teaches mindfulness practices to his students to do the same for them.

"I collected data every two weeks through the use of surveys specifically designed to measure stress and anxiety in adolescents. Twelve weeks later I returned. The data confirmed that teaching students about the brain and nervous system along with practicing mindfulness each day for 10 minutes was making a major impact in reducing their stress and anxiety. A year later, I was asked to teach mindfulness to a group of incoming general education freshman along with teaching two classes to students with disabilities,” he said.

"Going through life in the present moment is so much better than living in the past and worrying about the future. Armed with mindfulness, I’m now able to help others experience this difference for themselves.”

Education World would like to know: Do you use mindfulness techniques to de-stress? Take our survey below.

Read more about the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education’s study here.

Related content:

Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

8/24/2016

Do you use mindfulness techniques to de-stress?

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