Relieving student stress takes just minutes a day
- Mary Davenport, an English teacher, practices mindfulness, an activity aligned with meditation that focuses the mind on the present. She’s woven the process into her teaching with her high school classes. Some of her students have told her they’ve used the method to relieve stress, even outside of school.
- For her practice, Davenport reads research, attends events and also uses an app, like InsightTimer, as she writes in Edutopia. She lets her students and their parents know at the beginning of every school year that this will be a daily activity in her room. Practice includes sitting on the floor, or lying with legs against a wall, computers closed, and lights low for up to 10 minutes.
- Students sometimes push back, disrupting the quiet. But Davenport does not reprimand them, nor try and use the time as a way to control them. She believes that by practicing with her students, she offers another avenue for relieving tension and stress.
High school can be stressful time for students. While schools offer breaks, like recess, for their youngest students, older pupils are sometimes left on their own to relieve pressure. Mindfulness may be an option that requires little time and yet can still be effective. Studies have also indicated that mindfulness programs could help reduce anxiety with regular practice.
In a 2014 study that appeared in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers wrote that introducing mindfulness in classrooms can be “…a promising avenue,” helping not just students, but teachers in potential danger of “burnout.” But the authors also note that for the practice to be effective, teachers may need their own training before modeling the behavior with classes.
The Mindfulness Solution, a set of guided meditations created by Ronald Siegel, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, is one place online where administrators can find some resources. The free site has more than a dozen recordings, some shorter than 10 minutes, that can be played on a computer or downloaded helping classroom teachers launch the practice for themselves and their students.
- Edutopia Mindfulness in High School