Doesn’t a smile directed towards you make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve not always been the one to look to for a smile. I recall a time, I was young and knew everything, when I was too cool to smile. I was hip-hop. We didn’t smile. Besides, when I’m not smiling, my “normal look” looks kind of mean (I’ve been told). Needless to say, I grew out of that period and make a conscious effort to smile.

How about the person that is always frowning? I know a book can not always be judged by its cover, but we have to make a conscious effort to not “catch” the frown. Sometimes it’s contagious or downright unwelcoming. ┬áThink about young, impressionable people such as kids. A frown can make us look so uninviting that a student (or even another adult) is too afraid to ask a question or even approach us. I hate to admit, but I’ve had second thoughts about approaching someone because of a perceived scowl.

I’ve been through rough stretches in my life when strangers have brightened my day merely by smiling and speaking to me. They may not have realized the impact their nonverbal expression had on me…perhaps it was intentional. Either way, my heart was given a much needed hug. We can have the same impact on others. Smile and lift the spirit of others. I believe smiling in the midst of adversity lifts us as well.

Emoticons are so popular because of the emotions they emit. Send smiles and hearts and you usually get smiles and hearts back. Send a pile of crap, well that usually gets laughs, but you know what I mean. Smile!

So it begins…the journey

I decided to start a blog to create a platform for sharing and learning mindful teaching strategies. Through mindfulness, students gain the confidence to express themselves and give their best efforts with an expectation of a learning experience rather than failure.

“What is a mindful teaching strategy?” you ask. It is teaching and offering students positive, alternative coping mechanisms to deal with their negative thoughts and self-doubt. The list of mindfulness strategies is vast, but here are a few that I use:

  • yoga
  • tai-chi
  • cleansing breaths
  • quick writes
  • journaling
  • positive affirmation statements
  • aromatherapy
  • color therapy
  • music
  • art
  • poetry
  • positive posters
  • greetings
  • smiles

Where do you find the time to incorporate these strategies? Some are as easy as decorating the classroom. For some of the other strategies, you’re gonna have to be more intentional. It may be tough initially, but try and weave them into your lessons. Start as soon as school begins to set the tone.

Throughout the years, I have learned students perform better when they feel good about themselves. Test scores don’t even begin to define students. Getting to know them, creating a safe environment conducive to learning, giving them a voice, incorporating their gifts and talents into learning and using mistakes to teach problem solving will give you a more comprehensive picture of the student.

As a side note, it is imperative that teachers practice mindfulness themselves. Sometimes we pour so much into others that we fail to adequately take care of ourselves, thus leaving us not nearly as effective as we would like to be.

I honestly do not know where this journey will lead, but I welcome the new venture. I look forward to hearing from those who make learning an unforgettable experience in the most magnificent way. Your efforts are truly appreciated …thank you!