Sometimes as a high school teacher I feel that I'm just rushing through curriculum and then every once in a while I have the chance to do something truly cool.
As a Humanities teacher I deliver the Respectful Relationships curriculum which covers different topics to help prepare students for today's world. One series of lessons was about identifying stressful situations and developing coping mechanisms.
Included within this we did a trial meditation session. I ran the lesson with year 9s and it didn't go over very well, and when I repeated it with my year 7s it went much better. The next week we had some time left before lunch and some of my year 7 students asked for meditation and half the class were really concentrating and practicing it. Afterwards I asked if they wanted us to do this regularly and I had a huge positive response, even from the ones who didn't seem to be practicing the meditation aspect, but it still seemed they loved the opportunity to have some quiet time to just be.
So I've introduced this as an embedded part of my lesson every Friday for the past few months. Every week I've been noticing that more students are getting engaged and involved. Today we did the session and the 5 minutes felt like 30 seconds. I've had one student mention it to a coordinator that he's using it as a strategy for anger management.
I had always thought that there was value in meditation, but now that I'm doing it with my whole class I'm feeling the benefits myself. I walk out of class feeling so much lighter and calmer, and I see it with my students. They are getting a little more centred and focussed, and better at being in the moment.
I've been using Smiling Mind which has educational programs and am just in the experimental phases, and yet I'm seeing so much positivity. I'm so excited because next year I'm going to introduce it from the get-go with my classes and really have the chance to track its positive effects, and I really want to explore some PD or research to support me. There's so much potential to support students with assessments. Everything they do these days is under exam conditions or involves some sort of testing and I can see that this could be a great tool for their educational journey and beyond. Will keep you posted on my progress, and would love to hear about anyone who uses meditation either in the classroom or in life.
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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