Using mindfulness in the schoolroom

by Vaughan Clark

There are two Mindfulness activities that I use often, with tutees and my divisions.  The first is an exercise to get the boys to become still and completely present when they begin a school with me in which I shall ask them to collaborate.  ‘please place the desks to the side of the room and form a circle of chairs in the middle…place your feet firmly on the floor and push your back into the chair, place your hands on your thighs and close your eyes.  Breathe slowly counting your breaths to ten…take three slow breaths in and out focusing on your mouth, throat and lungs; take three slow breaths in and out through your finger-tips, toes and head…listen to the noises in and around the room, feel the texture of the floor under your feet, keep your eyes closed.’  Whilst in this state, I then let them know that they are going to work together and contribute to a collaborative task.  With their eyes closed, I ask them to think of, for example, which ideas most help them to define The Cold War.  If they are my tutees I might ask them to reflect on what they have done that has been pleasant over the past week.  The beginning point for many mindfulness exercises is to root one’s thoughts and awareness in a sense of how one feels in one’s body.  The second activity I picked-up from JDN.  If I want to gain some quick but sensitive feedback from the boys about their confidence in their learning, I get them to sit still, close their eyes, and raise their hands to indicate how they feel.  This is useful information for me, and helps me to convey that I care about them.  They trust these moments.

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