Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Being Present and Invested: How Can We Get our Students to Commit?

Being present means feeling connected. Feeling connected means finding relevance, interest, and solidarity with those around you. Listen with intent not to simply wait for your turn to speak. How do we get this purposeful and immediate focus with our students. As teachers, we try to make lessons engaging and interesting even a bit edgy and surprising but even this may not get the true focus we are expecting from our students. We can sing and dance, tell jokes, laugh but even then the glassy eyes and distant expression may still be present on some students. We can not make them focus. We can not make them mindful. All we can do is provide them with strategies to help them teach themselves how to focus and stay focus, making sure they get what they need every day to be successful.

Mindfulness is not about changing any experience or even what is happening around you but simply it is how you choose to respond and interact with the experience. Your intention on what you expect to learn from the experience and how to make it meaningful to you. Attention and awareness are key. The teacher is speaking, am I listening to the words merely trying to make sense of them or am I distracted only hearing half of what she is saying? How can I focus more on the meaning not the words. How can I see the purpose and relevance to me personally? If I can pay attention, deeply, I know what I need to know but can I see the big picture? Can I see deeper meaning in this experience. Can I be aware of what is happening around me but still find a direct line to the focus, my focus? How can we be present and invested in our learning?

Commit- to bind to a certain course or policy. To be aware of this commitment is important. To choose this intention is what helps us commit, focus, become determined. Mindfulness: being in the present, breathing to calm and focus, relaxing during stress, listening and letting go of distractions leads to resiliency and enhances social interaction because it allows us to ignore the voices inside our head and hear the other person talking to us. It helps us with empathy, sympathy and trust. It is basically our instinct heightened and ready to guide us to calm and focus. There are many strategies that work for both adults and children it merely takes an open-mind, open-heart and intent to find them and implement them. The strategy I will share in this post is all about being present and invested, committing to the knowledge and learning within the classroom. It is simply, so simple that most people do this every day 24 hours a day. Breathe.

It sound ridiculous to many, paying attention to our breathing. But, believe me after using this strategy during stressful times, moments of pain, feelings of sadness or defeat I simply...take a deep breath slowly...1..2..3..4.. hold it in for 1..2..3..4.. and breathe out but not quietly but loudly and with force (like Lamaze or panting) then repeat 4 times. Yes a lot of 4's. But after the 4th time, seriously try it, I am calm. I teach this to my students when they are stressed before a game or test, angry and ready for an argument, even tired and unfocused and it works. They will tell you as I am it works. How do I get my students to commit? To be present and invested? A few moments of calm breathing.

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