Learning to Think: Part Three – Continuing Mindfulness Throughout the Day
By: Courtney Kowalczyk, M.Ed.
Fall is well underway here in Michigan, and the beautiful fall colors can be seen for miles around. It is such a wonderful sight to see children, young and old, out and about enjoying the wonderful scenery. My young son has become increasingly aware of the seasons, and it has been amazing for me to watch him make discoveries about the changes in his world. During this time of change, I continue to think about the mindfulness that is so important for every child. Watching my son think, learn, and process information related to the changing seasons has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined.In my last article, I discussed two strategies to increase students’ mindfulness throughout the school day. It is so important for our students to be learning to think independently, and not just learning rote skills that they cannot apply. Here are a few more strategies that I would like to share with you that will help increase the mindfulness of your students.
- Play “I Spy” with your students. Students at any age love to play games. The “I Spy” game can be adapted for any age of students. This game consists of one person visually locating an item within a room, and then providing clues to his or her peers about the item. You could spy a small plant growing on the teacher’s desk, for example, and then provide clues like “this is green” and “it continues to grow”. The audience then guesses what the person is spying, and whoever guesses correctly gets to be the “spy” next. This game provides students with opportunities to practice basic problem solving skills and information processing.
- Rearrange the daily schedule. As teachers, we often get into a rut of doing the same thing at the same time each day. Consistent schedules are often positive elements of an effective classroom; however, the same thing day in and day out can become monotonous, static, and even boring for the students and the teachers. Providing simple variations to your classroom schedule can be an effective tool for increasing the flexibility and mindfulness of your students. For example, if you consistently have a snack before doing math, try having the snack during or after your math lesson. By providing a schedule that is fairly consistent yet flexible, you will be providing your students with opportunities to increase their abilities as well.
- Vary the way you teach lessons. Often as teachers, we have a favorite spot of two from which we prefer to teach. These may be in front of the class, by the white board or projector, or walking amongst our students. There are, however, many different places within the classroom where you can teach from. For example, you could teach while sitting at a student’s desk, sitting in the back of the room, or sitting on the floor together as a group. By providing variations to the way you deliver instruction, you can provide students with variations and opportunities to do think independently as well as get a glimpse of what may be happening in other portions of your classroom.
By providing your students, and yourself, with some simple variations and opportunities to be mindful individuals, you will be setting the stage for a community of lifelong thinkers. I look forward to sharing more thoughts with you regarding learning and thinking in the months to come!