The Conscious Classroom

Finding Your Center

December 02, 2020 Amy Edelstein Episode 26
The Conscious Classroom
Finding Your Center
Show Notes Transcript

When there's distraction in the classroom and students are disengaged or wound up, our inclination as teachers is often to clamp down, to try to control. We do that with greater or lesser degrees of success. But after that, how do we feel? Those are the days that usually leave us more spent, drained, and wound up. 

In this episode, Amy talks about establishing our own anchor as a way to coalesce our classroom community. Using mindfulness and other contemplative techniques, we ground ourselves and establish a compelling and safe space for our students that exerts its own gravitational pull. We can calm, focus, and redirect much more easily from here.

Guided meditation included, which you are warmly encouraged to do - for your own center and relaxation, so very important during this time of coronavirus spread.  

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Welcome to the conscious classroom podcast, where we're exploring tools and perspectives that support educators and anyone who works with teens to create more conscious, supportive, and enriching learning environments. I'm your host, Amy Edelstein, and I'll be sharing transformative insights and easy-to-implement classroom supports.

That is all drawn from mindful awareness and systems thinking the themes we'll discuss are designed to improve your joy and fulfilment in your work and increase your impact on the world we share. Let's get on with this next episode. Hello. Welcome to

the conscious classroom. My name is Amy Edelstein. Today. We're gonna talk about it. Finding your centre, what it means to find your centre, how we could lose our centre and how finding our centre as teachers in a classroom helps create a stable and calm and centring environment for the students we work with.

It's a really important aspect of educating. To, know ourselves and to be centred and focused on our strength, competence, trust, intuition, as well as all the learning and preparation that we've done to engage our students. Generally, when we feel. A little overwhelmed or scattered. We blame it on our lack of preparedness.

We were tired. We fell asleep. We didn't adjust our lesson plan. Given what's happened during the week, we didn't pull extra entertainment, education, videos, games, or something to freshen up, our student's experience in this very difficult online learning environment.  and we blame it on a lack of preparation, but whether any of those elements of preparation may or may not have been true for that particular lesson when we come in really anchored in our depths of the love of learning, the love of teaching our life, experience, our education experience, that centeredness.

Will enable us to overcome any lack of preparation. We may perceive. Usually, we're a little harsher and a little more critical with ourselves than we need to be. We have plenty to move forward with when we trust ourselves. When we let go, when we establish ourselves in that centre, our students respond on a gut level.

they feel that we're prepared. They feel that we're knowledgeable. They feel that we have a lot to offer and they feel that the quality of our humanity that's attractive and that makes whatever we're teaching attractive as well.  students need calm stability as well as boundaries to thrive. , you know, if we're scattered and we're loose and we're erratic with our boundaries and discipline and direction, then they flounder.

It's like walking through the quicksand or a marsh, or like a waterway and, and not knowing whether you're gonna put your foot on solid rock or you're gonna put your foot on a bit of mud and slip and sink. And when we have that very.  clear focus and anchor in ourselves. It allows us to express a kind of consistency in our nature that students respond very well too.

It's not a rigid discipline. It's not a rigid code of conduct that doesn't allow for changing at uncertain times. And you know, we're, we're in those right now, but. Anchor and centeredness give students, you know, it communicates to students what our boundaries are in a positive sense, and that enables them to trust their creativity and be easily pulled back.

If they get a little out of line and it allows them to be more accommodating both with themselves and with others. Because when our discipline is too rigid, because we're not, we're not anchored in ourselves. Oftentimes kids start to get petty. This one, you know, they complain about each other. This one didn't do this.

This one didn't do that. They're petty with themselves. They're overly critical. What we wanna do is free up their self-confidence, free up their sense of trust, and free their curiosity.  and that comes from feeling like we are all anchored. We're not bobbing around, like on the surface of the water and the wind without any kind of, mourning to our home base.

So when the atmosphere in our class is not what we want, when the kids are lacklustre, when they have difficulty paying attention.  when they are, angry or petty, before we look to how we're gonna react to them or control them, or, or point them in the right direction. First, it's helpful to, to more deeply rooted in our centre.

There are a lot of different ways to do that, but let's start with some mindfulness practice.

So take your mindfulness posture back tall, vertebrae stacked one on top of another, your head floating at the top of your neck, put away your foam, put away your papers, and put away the things that you're multitasking with. For these few minutes, let yourself experience the groundedness and centeredness that comes from this

practice on your next few breaths. Notice yours.

Are your eyes tense and tight from watching the screen too long without a break, do your eyelids feel heavy and dry?

Is your neck stiff on one side or your

back?

Make any adjustments that you need to. Do some neck rolls, do some seated twists, ring out your spine, and roll out your neck.

And take a deep inhalation, a real belly breath,

Imagine that your lungs are like an old-fashioned wine CAS wider on the bottom. Take a deep breath in feeling from the

bottom, all the way up to the.

Pause at the end of your inhalation and allow the air to just expand,

opening up your

lungs. And then when you need to exhale, letting the air out from the top of your lungs, all the way down to the bottom. Pulling your stomach in at the end. So you exhale all of the air and then repeat on your own.

Now

just breathe naturally,

allowing your attention to flow with the inhalation and the exhalation, letting

your thoughts settle.

And imagine.

Dropping a pebble in a still forest pool. So clear you can watch the pebble float down to the bottom and autumn and settle there.

Watch it come to still.

Watch the little ripples in the sand at the bottom of the pool, settle again.

Notice the stillness of the rock and the water around it. Settling, returning to stillness.

Now you can pause this podcast for as long as he'd like, allowing the reflection on stillness to just draw you.

And then when you're ready, begin to become aware of the surface of the pool of the surroundings of your surroundings. And when you hear the bail, we can finish.

The metaphor of the still forest pool is the metaphor of our classroom. So that's how we want our classroom to be stillness, even in the middle of intense activity and positive learning and commotion and sharing and discovery and C.

When things get out of control and we take our centre as that pebble dropped in the pond. At first, the water has to move out of the way there are little ripples and disturbance, and then the water settles, the classroom settles, and we can all kind of experience that field.  of stability together.

Online teaching is very difficult. As I was thinking about talking about creating this kind of stability. I'm aware that when we're in the same room, our students will model us. And when we're watching our students all in their separate. Many of them struggle to focus with younger siblings in the background, playing cartoons or video games, running around, eating, and walking into the other room.

It's very hard to share and transmit the kind. Commands for attention and stability that we do, nonverbally just in the classroom when we're together using active mindfulness exercises. Like the one we just did with language appropriate to whatever age you're teaching will help the students experience that centre even amidst the chaos.

Invite them to put on headphones, invite them to close their eyes, and invite them to sit on the floor if that's comfortable for them so that they remove themselves from the distraction around them. And they can come into your world. They can start resonating with that stability.

It may take more pros as their cameras are turned off or pointed at the ceiling where you're wondering if they're even there and invite them to open up their cameras for five seconds to wave. Hello. So you can see their beautiful face, inviting them to do that. Invites them into a relationship.

And if you're finding the online learning increasingly difficult and you're feeling like you need to entertain more, resist the temptation to feel like you are not doing enough,

engage your students with a simple question.

Asking them to share one rose, one, thorn invites all your students into meditation so that they're all reading the rose and thorn in the chat or listening to the rose and thorn from each student and holding and holding what they're learning and stillness so that they're still they're attentive.

They're listening. They're connecting

invite each student by name to do that.

When we call on them by name and invite them into the activity, we're creating that environment. We're organizing around that centre.

Rash. She. Think about Kayla's Rosen, thorn, John, read to yourself. Naomi's Rosen, thorn. Sarah notices Brittany's Rosen. Thorn. Do they sound like yours? Can you relate? Let's all share this moment. Hearing about each other's week, one rose, one thorn just silently to yourself. Think about each student as they share their rose and thorn,

just cycling through the class, calling them by name, inviting them in creating a centre of attention. That's not just you commanding attention, but a centre of attention that includes the whole group will help corral the energy it will help pull the attention back.

Centring is, is more than just. A surface layer action. It does help us feel like we have more strength and our mindfulness practice helps establish that strength. Maybe you're a Walker. Maybe you're a reader. Maybe you're a journaler. Maybe you're. Maybe you are, playing with your dog or cat or pet those moments that create our centre.

Tap energy in us, and attention, is a quality of attention. We wanna pay attention when we're doing those activities, feeling how our body lets go, feeling, how our mind gets refreshed, feeling how a smile curls on our lips, feeling how our heart lightens.

The trick is noticing awareness, mindfulness being mindful and being easy with ourselves, letting them experience and letting our own experience of attention, create that feeling of groundedness and centeredness.

We don't need to add a lot of extra attention, but if you're finding yourself during this time frustrated or lonely or just empty, because of that lack of social interaction, if you find yourself scrolling through Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat or TikTok too many times a day, Set yourself a little reminder that instead of scrolling through someone else's social media algorithm, you do some centring breaths.

You cultivate your intimacy with being intimacy with resting intimacy, with that centre. That feeling of centeredness. So you get to know it, you get to become familiar, becomes welcome. It's gonna be far more renewing and rejuvenating and uplifting than passing those 3, 5, and 12 minutes on social media

over the next couple of weeks as students return.  from a Thanksgiving break. And as they have those weeks before winter break, I encourage you to use this time to see how active your reflection on centeredness

can create a shared community, a shared sense of connection, and a shared focus. And a shared kind of orderedness in your class

and when you're irritated or frustrated or you can't get participation, know that it's not, you it's these times. It's just hard for everyone and create that feeling of room and acceptance through the mindfulness practice. You can use the guided hand meditation where you focus on your breath, but you watch your hands flowing in and out with the inhalation and the exhalation.

You can use the star breath where you hold your hand in front of you and you trace the fingers inhaling. As you trace up a finger exhales as you trace down.

When you start practising these small tools that help you pay attention with calm, and curiosity, they help you nurture and feel positively towards yourself.  you will be verbally and non-verbally training your students on how to find their centre amid chaos. And during this time, perhaps more than anything, what they need is that sense of safety and stability.

And you can bring that into your C.

So I wish you all health and well-being. I hope that you can keep practising as much as possible during this time in whatever way calls you

value the poll.  for this kind of attentiveness and whether you use mindful breathing practice or any of the variations, or you use your form of gentle walking or painting or playing music, whatever it is, the value that centeredness you're creating lets your whole system. Your emotional system, your physical system, and your mental system drink in that experience of feeling at home and grounded in yourself, in the present tense in your life so that you can help carry that into the C.

No doubt online teaching blended learning during coronavirus is challenging rather than just trying to make it through let's cultivate good habits during this time, let's make this time one of renewed commitment to what life is all about, which starts with taking care of ourselves and taking care of our students through that.

Let's make this a time so that when we look back we'll know that this was the time that we made great changes. I wish you all well. Stay in touch till next time. Thank you for listening to the conscious classroom. I'm your host, Amy Edelstein. Please check out the show notes on inner strength and foundation.net for links and more information.

And if you enjoyed this podcast, please share it with a friend and pass the love on. See you next time.