I have always prided myself on my ability to see the world through the eyes of a child and create a peaceful, warm, loving environment within my classroom. A few years ago I earned the title of ‘The Mindful Teacher’ because I work so hard to stay in the present moment and I actually teach a mindfulness practice in my classroom for at least 20 minutes a day every day after lunch and recess-
Yet, Friday was truly a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day because my 1st graders just wouldn’t listen to a word I said.
This behavior had been building from about the middle of the week but on Friday I literally stood there at the front of my classroom wondering if I was stuck in a Charlie Brown cartoon because as I gazed at my students it appeared that they were simply hearing ‘wha wha wha wha wha’ (just like the cartoon) instead of the actual words I was saying. At one point I actually raised my voice (which never happens in my room) in order to get their attention. I was then quickly heart broken as I noticed that this was the only way that the kids respond to adults-when their voice is loud and they know they’ve crossed the line. That was the worst feeling ever and certainly not how Mrs. Savini’s classroom runs on a daily basis!
I decided to take a step back, ask some questions to my audience and go within. And here’s what I found-
Step 1: I asked this question on my facebook page, ‘Why do you think children are not good listeners in today’s society?’
And here are some responses:
‘Technology and chemicals in food have negatively changed the physiology and essentially rewired our brains.’ -Nicole
‘Too much technology not enough out doors and simply playing learning and exploring.’ -Cheryl
‘Because the world is so rushed and no one teaches them to stop and listen, to quiet their mind and hear what is being said before responding. Many children and adults are so busy forming their response in their head that the don’t listen well.’ -Teri
‘Probably because adults are poor examples – at least its one reason.’ -Elizabeth
Step 2: I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths and asked for answers from my higher self.
‘Dear Higher Self,
What the hell is going on? Have I lost my magical touch? Is it a full moon?’
The answers came…
No it’s not a full moon and no you haven’t lost your magic touch. The truth is our kids are growing up in a hectic, busy society where everyone is a bit disconnected. Yes, the chemicals in the foods and environment are a factor and yes too much technology adds to their brains going astray, but the most important factor is YOU.
Hmmmmm. Well that’s certainly something to think about isn’t it?!
Have you ever gone out to dinner with your family and noticed the tables where parents are scrolling through their smartphones and kids are on electronics while waiting for their meals to come? I’m sure you’ve stood and watched people texting back and forth while they are sitting in the same room as well.
I remember a time when I was waiting to board a plane in a major airport. I noticed that many people were on electronics, busying their minds until their time was up. Then I turned and noticed a family of four sitting at a table; Mom was on her laptop, dad was on a kindle, the teen boy was also on a laptop and the youngest child (likely 8-9 years old) was on his iPod. They were not looking at each other, nor were they talking to one another. They were sitting in the same space, at the same table as a family, yet they were totally disconnected. Their flight was called and everyone packed up and walked away together, still not interacting. I had tears in my eyes as I watched this because it reminded me just how precious childhood is and that we are wasting it away by not connecting with the kids.
Where’s the connection nowadays (omg…did I just say that? I’ve turned into my mother…lol)? When do we look into each others eyes and share a moment of tenderness? When do we stop and truly listen to what the other person is saying? We need to get this back-we need to CONNECT and if we want our children to be better listeners, then we need to listen better and model better.
After all of this pondering about the problem, the solution finally hit me-
My students need more mindfulness training than 20 minutes a day and I need to be more mindful to model this behavior for them!
The truth is, our kids have difficulty listening and are seemingly careless about life because they are growing up in a disconnected society where everyone is on the run and our minds are never in one place. We are running to a meeting, running to a practice, running to the grocery store, running-away.
We all need to STOP, BREATHE and just BE.
Here’s my new plan for Monday;
Instead of just practicing Mindfulness for 20 minutes or so after lunch and recess, I will practice throughout the day. I, myself will stay in the moment and serve as a strong model for my students. Each and every day moving forward, I will remind myself that the gift of life is the present moment. I will do this by posting this simple sign in my home, my car and of course, my classroom.
Why breathe? Because when we take a deep breath, we are brought back to the present moment.
My students aren’t deliberating ignoring me and we aren’t deliberately ignoring the children, but we are all disconnecting in some way, shape or form. It’s time to connect again. It’s time to breathe!
Mindfulness in Action: If you like what I have to say and want to stay in touch go on over to my webpage and sign up for the FREE newsletter. You’ll get all of my blog posts, newsletters and upcoming events/classes.
Lots of Love & Tons of Light,