1
Developing Mindfulness in the Mosaic Classroom by
Susan Bertolino
We have so many goals for the curriculum. But it all b...
2
Step 1: Just The Facts, Ma’am
Step 2: What’s going on?
Information: What do I need
to learn?
Knowledge: Do I Understand
...
3
Step 3: What can I do?
Of course, change is subtle or active. Mindfulness encourages subtle change—a
bit like evolution....
4
dominance of No Child Left Behind and standardized testing in public
schools. Our students are a product of that climate...
5
they like them and what in particular do they like to see when they
change.
Inform the students that they will now make ...
6
Repeat the exercise moving counterclockwise. Call out 12:00,
11:00, 10:00 and so forth. Do this 3 times. Close the eyes ...
7
1. Let’s Breathe: This section includes a variety of breathing
exercises that can be performed seated or standing up.
Am...
8
or class discussion, but it may not have the same effect on all students. A
direct experience is an encounter with somet...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Developing Mindfulness in the Mosaic Classroom

446 views

Published on

Published in: Education
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
446
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
2
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
1
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Developing Mindfulness in the Mosaic Classroom

  1. 1. 1 Developing Mindfulness in the Mosaic Classroom by Susan Bertolino We have so many goals for the curriculum. But it all becomes a waste of time if students fail to take away something meaningful to their lives. I began incorporating the idea of mindfulness in my teaching last spring when I joined the Community Based Learning Program. I wanted students to become conscious of their behavior and aware of their relationship to community. Since I was asking students to participate in various outside activities, I wanted them to see the connection and possibly develop habits that would serve them in their daily activities. What is mindfulness? It begins as an attitude. People have become numb to their environment, so they lose their own sense of consciousness about themselves. Many go through life not wanting to know things because those things may pose a threat to their own perceived harmony. Freud described happiness as the absence of suffering. People who live as Freud suggests are not living in mindfulness. We cultivate mindfulness by getting in touch with our thoughts and feelings without attachment. We develop an awareness of others. It is a subtle process. Some meditators call mindfulness “insight”. (See The Philadelphia Meditation Center.) Creating mindfulness in a classroom needs to begin right away. Students need to sense that the course isn’t just some Gen Ed requirement, but a path to the world around them and most importantly, themselves. Here is a model I have created to teach mindfulness in Mosaic 852, a class that is wrought with information. Students often resist what they see as an onslaught of facts, particularly in the science unit. When we read and discuss the readings, I ask them to follow this model:
  2. 2. 2 Step 1: Just The Facts, Ma’am Step 2: What’s going on? Information: What do I need to learn? Knowledge: Do I Understand What I Have Read? Emotional Reaction-How Do I Feel About this reading? Intention: What do I need to do with this reading? Perspective: Do I agree? Agenda: Does the author want me to think a certain way? Doubt: Should I trust what have read?
  3. 3. 3 Step 3: What can I do? Of course, change is subtle or active. Mindfulness encourages subtle change—a bit like evolution. Change is more effective when it is gradual. Then it becomes a habit as well as a point of view. Mindfulness in Mosaic happens when the students have a direct experience with the reading. This is why discussion is very important as it gives the students a voice. But it is better to give them an activity that is meaningful. This is why I chose to work with Community Based Learning as the program provided me with tools for the students to do something different and have a valuable experience that they could reflect back onto the reading. My students have taken yoga classes, proctored exams at KIPP schools, worked at tutors in some local churches, picked vegetables with Temple Community Gardens, tended crops at a local urban farm, cleaned out garbage in local neighborhoods and planted trees for neighborhood beautification. By reading and doing, they become more aware. I should add that it falls to us as educators to reach all 3 learning types. Most of university teaching works with audio and visual learners, particularly in the humanities. Mindful teaching, which can also be action based community-learning helps the tactile learner, who are often short-shifted in the education system, particularly with the Awareness: I see this reading in my daily life. Mindfulness: I know that I can apply this reading to my daily life. Change: I plan to practice________ because this reading affects my life.
  4. 4. 4 dominance of No Child Left Behind and standardized testing in public schools. Our students are a product of that climate. Something as simple as teaching 5 minutes of meditation or deep breathing can make all the difference in the classroom because we help bring the student back to where he or she is in the present moment, not to mention that it involves direct action on their part instead of reception. Here are some activities that I have used: A. (Developed by me.) This one is related to science, particularly Jenner. I show them a movie about smallpox that also includes the threat of biological warfare. Since I’m on a 50-minute schedule, I usually wait until the class period. I begin the class with these questions, plus I ask them to leave off their names so that they don’t feel some need to impress me. I read them the assignment aloud. Complete the sentences: 1. This movie scared me because______________________ 2. This movie angered me because____________________ 3. This movie made me think about__________________ 4. I trust science because_______________________________ 5. I distrust science because___________________________ Here is another I have done when I introduce themes related to power. For this one, I do ask them their names. I read the questions and ask them to answer them. 1. Do you like conflict? 2. Do you avoid conflict? 3. What is conflict? 4. Who or what controls you? 5. Do you believe you have free will? B. I got these from a mindfulness site online, but I cannot find the reference. Season Awareness and Non-Dominant Hand Writing Exercise (good for the environment unit, but this could be about anything) Give everyone a piece of paper or ask him or her to take one out. Put students into partners (the exercise suggest groups, so that is another possibility.) Ask them to discuss their favorite seasons, why
  5. 5. 5 they like them and what in particular do they like to see when they change. Inform the students that they will now make a list of all the things they like about their favorite season. You will give them 3 minutes. The catch is this: each student must compose the list with his or her non-dominant hand. They are asked to write slowly and deliberately while paying attention to the legibility of the writing. That exercise can be tough or it can be a blast, depending on the rapport you have with the class. It makes them aware of how much we all take for granted our motor skills. Some feel more empathy with those who may have physical limitations in which the simplest activity can be a chore. C. Here are some other mindfulness activities that I have done. Many come from my background in yoga. Each one can be done independently. 1. Breathe normally while closing your eyes. Find the gap between the exhalation and the inhalation. 2. Guided breathing exercises: Put your hand on your abdomen and begin a 5-part breath. Have your hand follow the inhalation. Feel the breath leave the abdomen, go through the lungs, up the throat and out the nose/mouth. Then exhale using the same counting to 5 but without the hand gestures. For each inhalation, use the hand gestures. 3. This exercise I got from the Integral Yoga Program: Eye Exercises. Ask the students to sit in a comfortable position. Close the eyes and relax. Each exercise should be performed carefully. Begin slowly, gradually increasing the speed of all movements. Exercise 1: Move the eyes vertically, up and down, as far as they can go. Do this for about a minute. Close the eyes and rest. Exercise 2: Move the eyes horizontally, from right to left (or left to right) for about a minute. Close the eyes and relax. Exercise 3: Move the eyes diagonally, starting up with the right side and moving down to the left for about a minute. Then switch to the left side and move the eyes down to the right. Close the eyes and rest. Exercise 4: Move the eyes clockwise just like a clock. Count 12:00, 1:00 and so forth. Do this three times. Close the eyes and relax.
  6. 6. 6 Repeat the exercise moving counterclockwise. Call out 12:00, 11:00, 10:00 and so forth. Do this 3 times. Close the eyes and relax. Ending the exercises: rub the palms vigorously for about 15 to 20 seconds. Palm the closed eyes with the hands. This brings soothing heat to the eyes. Discuss the exercise and ask students about their experiences. I find that writing about it is not a good option as some find the experience a bit agitating so they prefer to talk about it. Others simply feel tired of doing something mandated by the teacher. These exercises exercise the mind and help with vision, but they also bring the participant into an awareness of the fragility of our vision. Depending on the group, I make these exercises a metaphor for insight into our reading. D. I also use exercises from a lesson plan book I got from summer training from a program called Yoga 4 Classrooms. These exercises are intended for elementary school kids, but I have found some of them helpful. One doesn’t have to be a yoga teacher to learn how to do these exercises. I am forbidden from making copies of this book (it also comes with cards for each exercise). The exercises are numerous, so I will describe the categories:
  7. 7. 7 1. Let’s Breathe: This section includes a variety of breathing exercises that can be performed seated or standing up. Among them is Balloon Breath in which the student imagines his or her abdomen blowing up like a balloon. Another one is called “Count Down to Calm”, which is similar to the exercise I described earlier, but the hands are used to count off numbers. 2. At Your Desk: These poses are variations of yoga postures that can be performed at the desk. I’ve taught poses like “Sitting Mountain” and “Open Heart”. It is probably best to use these if you already have some familiarity with yoga. 3. Stand Strong: These are standing yoga poses. I have been able to do some of these in a classroom setting, but it usually works better for an80-minute class. I’ve never done it for a 50-minute class. Again, it is helpful to know some yoga, but the instructions in the book are very clear. 4. Loosen Up: These exercises are designed to motivated students to do their best and alleviate stress. For these you really have to know your group. I have done exercises like: “Washing Machine” in which the students stand up, think of something they would like to wash out of their system, then they turn their bodies from the right to the left as though they were flinging out the problem. It feels really good. 5. Imagination Vacation: There are a lot of good exercises listed here, but the ones I do are called “Mindful Mediations”, but I variate on the directions. One is called “Candle Gazing” which is done a lot in yoga to improve focus and concentration. Since I don’t bring candles to class, I ask them to find something on the wall and stare at it for a minute. Then I ask them to find another point to do the same. We then share their experiences. All of these exercises are meant to create what in yogic thought is called “Direct Experience” I even write about it on my syllabus. Here is the section: Direct Experience: The academic goals for the course are quite clear, but they will not take root without direct experience with the ideas within the texts. A direct experience is what is personal to the receiver: it is unique to the individual. Something may resonate with one person in a particular text
  8. 8. 8 or class discussion, but it may not have the same effect on all students. A direct experience is an encounter with something that rings true, often intuitively. Much of what we will do in this course will come from an awareness of direct experience with a particular emphasis on mindfulness in terms of external surroundings and personal insights. So I hope you find these suggestions useful. It isn’t for everybody, but it does work for me. Feel free to contact me at sbertoli@temple.edu with any concerns.

×