Sunday, September 23, 2018

Mindful Cell Phone Use, for Students and Teachers

The following is a guest post by Ira Rabois, author of Compassionate Critical Thinking.

How difficult is it nowadays to engage students in a deep discussion? Or if you’re a parent, how difficult is it to engage the whole family in a talk?

There has been much debate about the role cell phones and other digital media has played in making face-to-face in-school discussions more difficult in the last few years.

A colleague recently told me about the problems with phone use at her school. Some students even use their phones to order food to be delivered to the classroom!

When I asked why the teachers put up with it, she said they felt like they couldn’t do anything. Constant cell phone use is too engrained in the school (and national) culture. Kids do everything on their phones, and parents add to the problem by wanting 24/7 access to their children.

I was as frightened by this situation as my colleague was. How can anyone learn well, and engage with others in meaningful discussions, when their attention is constantly tuned to the expectation of a text?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Inspiring Videos of Service to Humanity

This video playlist focuses on individuals who are helping alleviate severe problems in the world, in some cases risking their lives to do so. 

As always, please watch the full video before sharing it with your class, and use your own best judgment about what's appropriate for your particular context. (I'd consider most of these appropriate for adults or mature teens. If you teach kids, you may prefer last week's collection of Inspiring Videos of Young People Serving the World.) 

In a remote Arctic village facing a youth suicide crisis, Maggie MacDonnell teaches her students resilience and self-belief through projects that contribute to the community in meaningful ways.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Inspiring Videos of Young People Serving the World

Here are videos about children, teens, and young adults who've made a difference in their own communities or communities in other parts of the world. 

I don't think there's anything here that would be offensive or inappropriate for most classrooms. However, as always, please watch the full video before sharing it with your class. 

Use your own best judgment about whether it's appropriate for your particular context, as well as what type of support your students might need in order to understand an unfamiliar accent or unfamiliar culture.

Ryan Hreljac was only 6 years old when he started raising money to build wells for communities who didn't have clean water.

Jimmy Akana was one of the children who benefitted from Ryan's Wells. Now Jimmy and Ryan are friends who work together to help bring clean water to communities around the world.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

An Interfaith Perspective on Compassion and Service

"What is Zen? 
Simple, simple, so simple. 
Infinite gratitude toward all things past; 
Infinite service to all things present; 
Infinite responsibility to all things future."

This is what Huston Smith's roshi  told him at the end of an intensive retreat, as recounted in Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine

If you're not familiar with his work, I encourage you to read Mr. Smith's classic textbook The World's Religions or to watch his series of interviews with acclaimed journalist (and former pastor) Bill Moyers. Huston Smith had an incredibly gentle and thoughtful presence, and was able to listen to and learn from other traditions while keeping his own faith. A Methodist Christian, he also did yoga every morning, prayed five times a day in the Muslim tradition, and participated with his daughter's Jewish in-laws in sitting shiva as a way of comforting each other when she died.

As he explains in Tales of Wonder
"The major religious traditions address the mysteries, but they have other business to do: widen understanding, give meaning, provide solace, promote loving-kindness, and connect human being to human being."

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Power of Intention Setting for a Mindful School Year

The following is a guest post by Holly Duckworth, host of the Everyday Mindfulness Show and author of Mindful Leadership: The A to Z Guide For Stress Free Leadership. 

At the beginning of every school year your desk is buried in the to-do list, the goals, everything that you want your students to achieve. All of these are very important.  However, there is one key aspect to planning the year that most teachers and school leaders miss: Intention setting.  

It takes just a few moments, and is the most powerful way to set in motion a successful school year.  

Intention setting is about how you want to be as you are caught up in all the doing.  

As a mindful educator, I invite you to step back from the doing/goals and pause long enough to think through your intention for this school year.  Intention in mindfulness practice means focusing our energy on our highest values.  By setting an intention, you invite your mindfulness to support your doingness.  

To set your intention this year:

Sunday, August 19, 2018

My Goal in Heart, Mind, and Body

How Yoga and Mindfulness Can Support Life Goals

Teens Share How Yoga Helps Them In Life

The following is a guest post by Abby Wills of Shanti Generation.

Note: This lesson plan was originally designed for teaching youth, but it could also be appropriate if you teach life skills to adults who are preparing to go back to school or reenter the work force. 

Before explaining about this goal-setting lesson plan, I want to be very clear that it is NOT about setting goals FOR yoga practice. Instagram has done a fine job of instigating ‘pose goals!’

Yoga and mindful practices are non-competitive and process-oriented by nature. And that is exactly why yoga class can be a supportive environment to help students cultivate a positive vision for their future.

The purpose of this lesson is to:
1) help students set positive, conscious goals for their lives; and 
2) help them discover how their yoga and mindfulness practice can support them through the inevitable obstacles life will present.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Mindful Listening in a Noisy World

The following is a guest post by Ira Rabois, author of Compassionate Critical Thinking.

What happens to your thinking when you feel surrounded by noise? This is a particularly relevant question in schools today. The noise can be external—car horns, fire engines, people screaming in the halls outside your classroom. It can be your own internal voice, dictating what to do, or passing judgment on your character. It can be a combination of the two, as when you spend hours on social media or listening to news where there’s more yelling and attacking going on than listening and understanding. 

When you hear noise, you are not just hearing a sound you find unpleasant. You are hearing a sound with baggage. You are hearing dislike, resistance, or a threat.  It’s difficult to think when there’s noise because noise is a signal that your thinking is impeded or you feel under attack. And what’s attacking you is not necessarily someone external to you, but internal. Something is demanding attention, but it’s not simply the sound.

The same can happen when you meditate or practice mindfulness or simply want to focus on whatever you are doing. A noise can break your concentration. So, what can you do or help your students do? 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Self-Care Videos: Gentle Yoga, Mindful Movement, and Indoor Walking

One of the key themes here at Mindful Teachers is realistic self-care for educators and other helping professionals. It isn't about self-indulgence. It's about staying healthy and centered so you can keep helping others without sacrificing your own needs.

Here's a yoga practice especially for teachers, as well as a selection of mindful movement practices and gentle yoga and exercise routines, ranging from 3 minutes to 30 minutes. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Best Practices in Teaching Yoga to Teens (interview)

Abby Wills (MA, E-RYT) is a Movement, Mindfulness + Social Emotional Development Specialist for Full Circle Consulting Systems, Inc., and is on faculty at Barnsdall Arts in Los Angeles, where she delivers programming in middle and high schools. Abby is also the co-founder and program director of Shanti Generation, through which she has produced several yoga DVD's for kids and teachers. 

What are the special considerations in teaching yoga to adolescents, as opposed to younger children or adults?

Adolescence is a distinct period of development, marked by significant neurobiological changes that effect every aspect of a person’s life including social interaction, self-perception and world view. In yoga and mindful practice sessions, we honor the transformation teens are experiencing.
1) Teens generally want and need to rest more than adults and younger children. I often start with a resting activity and weave in more rest periods throughout class, always ending class with a full body relaxation.  

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Tales of Generosity: Lessons on Gratitude and Compassion

For these stories about giving and receiving, I've drawn from a variety of sources, including a Hasidic tale, a Sufi parable, and a couple of popular passages from the Gospels.

I invite you to consider perspectives from different traditions, and share them with your students if they seem appropriate for your particular context.  

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

Duck Soup

The Mulla Nasrudin is a 'wise fool' or 'holy fool' character in Sufi parables. You may not be familiar with his name, but you've probably heard the story of looking under a lamppost for a missing key: not because that's where it was dropped but because that's where the light is better. 

The following story is from a popular collection of Nasrudin tales compiled by Idries Shah:

"A kinsman came to see Nasrudin from the country, and brought a duck. Nasrudin was grateful, had the bird cooked and shared it with his guest.
Presently another visitor arrived. He was a friend, as he said, ‘of the man who gave you the duck’...
This happened several times. Nasrudin’s home had become like a restaurant for out-of-town visitors... 
Finally, Nasrudin was exasperated...