I have yet to meet a teacher who does not want the best for their students. They strive to do the best that they can with the knowledge that they have in each moment of the minefield they know as ‘teaching’. In addition, teachers tend to work long hours, struggle with exhaustion and burnout and they still have their own families to care for.
This can leave precious little time and energy to foster healthy, positive relationships with their students. Children thrive in relationships where they feel acknowledged, valued and heard. Being a mindful teacher simply means that you take the time to see, hear and understand your students, despite the challenges that life inevitably throws at you.
“I see you, I hear you, I get you” can transform your practice into one of deep meaningful connections and excellence in learning outcomes.
Here are some important points to consider:
- Each of your students is a unique individual with a unique set of life circumstances. Your classroom environment is only a small part of the complete list of influencing factors in your students’ lives, so it is very important to make it count. Every student is in some way influenced by the behaviour of others in their school, home and social environments. Creating a positive, uplifting environment at school where we, as teachers, take the time to listen – really listen– to our students, will result in them being more open to sharing what’s happening in their lives, and what they’re thinking and feeling.
- Don’t take it personally. Our students’ choices and behaviours can lead us to question our competence as teachers. However, their thoughts and emotions are sparked by a myriad of influences including social media, peer pressure and their view of themselves. If we don’t take their behaviour as a personal offence to our teaching, we are better able to take a step back and allow our students the space (with our gentle guidance) to navigate their own, more positive choices.
- Teach your students the art of making effective mistakes. Embrace, own, and learn from the (inevitable) mistakes that will be a part of our students’ learning experiences. Acknowledge that we are all on a journey of learning and to learn effectively, mistakes are excellent opportunities for ownership, expansion and growth.
- Set clear, but fair boundaries. We often teach the way we were taught. You can choose to do things differently with your students. Teaching an understanding of choices and consequences is essential. Don’t just talk- the -talk, walk-the-walk. Our students often do what we do, not always what we say.
- Try and organise activities which are fun, silly or even challenging. Be vulnerable, laugh with and at yourself and with your students. Activities which challenge our students physically and mentally, in teams and as individuals will give them opportunities to encourage and support each other while they learn and grow in confidence under your mindful guidance.