Teachers, How Stopping Can Actually Make You More Productive In The Cl
Jun 16, 2014 Teaching Methodology 5588 Views
Taking a few minutes out of our busy school day just to stop and be still can be hugely beneficial. Yet stopping feels counter-intuitive when we are rushing around - teaching, preparing for the next class during our break time, playground duty, catching up with parents, meetings after school and so on. It can be hard to find time for a quick coffee, let alone actually stop for a minute!
However, when we get into the habit of stopping for a few deep breaths, we can actually become more efficient, more focused and more energised. The hard part is remembering to stop.
As I sat down to write today my cat clambered onto me. She couldn't fit on my knees because my laptop was there, so she climbed onto my chest and rested her chin on my shoulder. I continued to type, trying to peer at the screen over the top of her, feeling frustrated because I just wanted to get on with my writing. She started to purr and I realised how I was rushing through the day just trying to tick things off my to-do list.
Even though I know taking time to stop is important, I was trying to push through to get my writing finished. My little cat reminded me to stop for a few minutes and just appreciate her. The writing would still be there afterwards, so I did just that. I put my laptop to the side, stroked her chin and closed my eyes, breathing in time to her purring. I only did this for a few breaths, but it was powerful. Although I wasn't thinking about anything in particular, just listening to my own breathing and her purring, I felt a sense of clarity at the end. I went back to my writing feeling rested and energized at the same time.
Can you stop for a few minutes right now?
Here are a few ways you can experiment with being more mindful during your teaching day. All of the exercises I outline below are great to do with your students too. Explicitly teaching students to relax and breathe is a wonderful life skill that can reduce anxiety and lead to better health.
- Stop whatever you are doing and sit down.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
- Counting the breaths in and out helps to stop your mind from wandering, but if it does wander that is absolutely OK, just bring yourself gently back to your breath again.
- Do this for a few breaths and then carry on with the rest of your day feeling more connected to yourself.
Sounds easy? It is - remembering to do it is the hard part!!
Here are some tips to help you to remember to stop and breathe.
- Write 'BREATHE' in your planning diary on a day you don't have playground duty. Sit in a quiet corner of your classroom while the kids are out at play.
- Sit with your class at lunchtime and eat together in a mindful way. You and your students can close your eyes, take a bite of food and chew slowly and mindfully, enjoying the taste and texture of whatever you are eating. Do this for a couple of bites. Great for calming the kids down.
- If you are about to enter a stressful situation such as dealing with a behaviour challenge or meeting an angry parent, stop for a couple of breaths before entering the room. You will be calmer and should feel more in control of the situation.
- When you feel overwhelmed with your workload and all that you have to get done, just stop for a few minutes and breathe. This does not make the work go away, but you should feel more clear-headed and ready to take the next step.
Practice these exercises regularly and you will notice that you become more productive, feel calmer and cope with stressful situations in a more thoughtful way, rather than just reacting.
I hope you found these tips useful, and remember to share them with your students.
Hi, I am Carolyn Aukafolau and I have been teaching for over 30 years. I have taught all levels from 5 year olds to teenagers, and have been a Deputy Principal for the past 15 years. My absolute passion is supporting teachers to be the best that they can be, ensuring they take care of their own wellbeing, reduce stress and overwhelm, and enjoy their chosen career.
I work with teachers who love teaching but are struggling with their workload, feeling like there is never enough time in the day or trying to balance their teaching with the demands of a young family.