Search form

About The Blogger

Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
Back to Blog

Starting the New Year Off with Mindfulness


Educators, you have probably heard the term, mindfulness, thrown around a lot at this point. You might have even completed a workshop or training helping you bring mindfulness into the classroom (which is awesome).

However, getting started with becoming more mindful in 2023 and using mindfulness methods in your teaching and personal life can be confusing and outright daunting. There is so much information, some good, some bad, out there surrounding mindfulness and education.

First off, why would you even take the time to learn and practice mindfulness? What’s the point? Well, there is a lot of empirical research mounting around the benefits of mindfulness, including improved focus and memory, decreased stress, anxiety, and depression, more energy and better health, and greater empathy. Essentially, you might just feel scattered and want a way to be more present in the classroom (and life) and show up more for students.

In my workshop Mindfulness for Teachers,” I ask participants if they experience any stress, anxiety, negative emotions, feelings of being overwhelmed or scattered. Invariably, everyone ends up raising their hand. Teaching is demanding and can be very stressful. Thus, if you experience any of these conditions, mindfulness practice makes sense.

Mindfulness is generally defined as paying attention in the moment, with purpose and without judging (a definition coined by mindfulness pioneer, Jon Kabat Zinn). I like to say mindfulness is bringing awareness to what you are doing. For example, you are walking into the school building in the morning, rather than rushed, walking while busily checking text messages, perhaps you are walking a little slower (just slightly slower, otherwise, you may get strange looks from colleagues), aware of how your shoes meet the ground with each step, aware of the breath and how your body feels in the moment. That would be bringing awareness to what you are doing.

Understand that becoming more mindful doesn’t require huge amounts of time or making major lifestyle changes like retreating to meditate on the top of a mountain. It just requires a change in attitude and intentional cultivation—which is helped by having specific techniques (keep reading).

So where do you begin? How do you become more mindful this year?

Here are some tips I share in my workshops to help teachers cultivate their own mindfulness practice.

Tip #1: Begin with Yourself

Establish a personal practice. This might mean sitting quietly in the morning and observing your breath for 10-15 minutes or doing what is called body awareness or a body scan, or engaging in mantra meditation. Formal practice can lay the foundation for the rest of the day, helping to set a calming, centered tone. There are many guided meditation practices on YouTube and other online sites, but you may want to take a meditation class or learn from a mindfulness coach or teacher before practicing on your own.

Tip #2: Bring your Mindfulness with You to School

Don’t forget about mindfulness after your morning meditation. When going through your teaching day, bring it with you by infusing intentional awareness into your activity. For example, when walking to campus or walking to get the students from lunch or specials practice mindful walking. Before you start teaching, practice some mindful breathing to de-stress. Use mobile mindfulness techniques, like grounding, whenever you feel overwhelmed or out of sorts. Here is a mindfulness grounding techniques you can try.

Tip #3: End Your Day MindfullyAfter teaching all day, handling parents, completing paperwork, and other educator challenges, take some time to decompress with a mindfulness method. You can sit and observe your breath or lay down and complete a body scan before going to sleep. Incorporate some way to let go of the stress and busyness in the mind. Here’s a guided meditation video to try before bedtime:

Just following these three steps can be a game-changer in your teaching life, helping you to remain calmer and more present. For more information on the “Mindfulness for Teachers” workshop, please email me at [email protected]