Thursday, May 26, 2022

Mindfulness in District 35

“What happens when our patience, our resilience, our self-management reserves are depleted? We react instinctively, defensively, impulsively. We may blame others for our unhappiness and have less of a willingness to accept our own limitations or poor reactions to our emotions. We may react more from our reptilian brain (fight, flight or freeze) which offers us very limited choices. And our children and teens may be reacting in their own uniquely challenging ways.”
~ from Confident Parents, Confident Kids: Rebuilding our Social Intelligence

The last few years of pandemic learning and living have brought new challenges to our routines. As we re-establish our classroom communities, we also know that children and adults may be struggling to regain a sense of normalcy. It becomes even more important to regain our skills of social intelligence. Mindfulness is a research-based way to reset and strengthen our skills of self and social awareness.

One of the main goals of our Mindfulness sessions has been to give students a toolbox of different mindfulness strategies that they can access at any time.  Some of the strategies reviewed, taught, and practiced are:
3x3x3 breathing: take 3 breaths, identify 3 things using your senses, and use 3 words to name your feelings
Using our five senses: name something you can see, hear, smell, taste or feel
5 finger breathing: breathing up and down as you trace your fingers

Our spring three-week sessions of Mindfulness cover the following learning experiences:

• Review of the key concepts of mindfulness and why it works.  Discussion to raise awareness by “noticing” and identifying thoughts and feelings without judgment.  Practice connecting and listening to our bodies.

• Focus on empathy and connecting with others.  The practice shifted from self-compassion to compassion for others.  Practicing awareness, inclusion, and appreciation of others.

• Pulled all the concepts together; self-compassion, compassion for others, empathy, and gratitude.  The importance of creating a daily practice of gratitude, and introducing the idea of the “flame” to help quiet the mind. 

West School students completed their spring session in March.  Our South and Central students will reengage with our Mindfulness sessions in April.

While the sessions are targeted at student learning, we find our staff members enjoy engaging and they also benefit from the practice. We thank the Glencoe PTO for their generous support of the Mindfulness sessions across our schools.