Have you ever noticed that it is harder for students to focus around lunchtime or right after recess? Students may struggle transitioning into a learning mindset, which might take a few minutes longer than usual. Work towards resolving this by utilizing calming, mindful strategies which can help students get into a more peaceful state of mind.
Mindful choices in the classroom start with educators having a willingness to improve mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, educators and students are no strangers to stress and anxiety. Signs of stress within a classroom can range from emotional, social, or physical signs. It is important to not only recognize signs of stress but also help students understand and manage anxiety, according to a Safe Search Kids 2022 article.1
Specific Calming, Mindful Strategies
Create a relaxing environment
Implement strategies to engage the senses and reduce distractions. The Inspired Treehouse blog has identified strategies that will address sensory modifications that will help any classroom environment.
Create a daily five-minute warm-up activity which allows for students to engage and prepare to learn the lesson for the day. Furthermore, it allows for students to release some of their energy before being expected to learn. There are many options for warm-ups, as seen in the New York Times 2021 article, “18 Warm-Up Activities to Engage Students Before They Read Nonfiction Texts.”
Low stakes journaling
Low stakes writing can be a great outlet for students, especially during the first few minutes of class. Think of it as a brief opportunity to reflect or to write informally. This typically is not done for a grade, but just used to prepare students to engage with class materials and allow for extra energy to be wielded into a purposeful and focused exercise. Purdue Today provides journaling approaches as a means to reduce stress.
Practice positive affirmations
Students and teachers can collaborate and create affirmations to put around the room. This Education To The Core blog provides suggestions for positive affirmations in the classroom.
Create opportunities for students to reflect which allows them to access appreciation and gratitude, as seen in this Edutopia article.
We Are Teachers provides great ideas for spaces that allow students to go if they want to take a break or need a safe space within the classroom.
By incorporating stress reducing and calming strategies throughout your day, educators can create predictable and safe spaces.2 Taking time to practice and model reducing stress will not only support a positive classroom culture but it will foster a sense of belonging for the students. Causton (2020) identifies belonging as an important factor that educators can influence attitudes and behavior because, “we are more likely to implement practices that will improve our own mental and physical health, as well as those of others (Carman et al., 2016 as cited in Causton 2020).”3
- How Teachers Can Recognize the Signs of Stress in Students. (2022, May 5). Safe Search Kids. https://www.safesearchkids.com/how-teachers-can-recognize-the-signs-of-stress-in-students/
- Fensterwald, J. (2022, September 27). Thousands of California teachers say they are stressed, burned out. EdSource. https://edsource.org/2022/thousands-of-california-teachers-say-they-are-stressed-burned-out/678737
- Causton, J., & MacLeod, K. (2020). From Behaving to Belonging: The Inclusive Art of Supporting Students Who Challenge Us. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. https://csu-un.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01CALS_UNO/lj2n3v/cdi_proquest_ebookcentral_EBC6263859.
- Kiedaisch, J. (2020, February 27). Why Safe Spaces Are Critical in Today’s Classrooms. We Are Teachers. https://www.weareteachers.com/safe-spaces-in-classrooms/.