How can we apply the philosophy of Mindfulness in the classroom?
The practice of Mindfulness or Mindfulness, more than a set of techniques to be in the present moment, is an attitude towards life. It is a coping style that fosters personal strengths, and within the classroom, brings benefits for both students and teachers.
The objective of Mindfulness in the educational context is that the participants acquire a state of consciousness and calm that helps them to self-regulate their behavior and get to know each other better, in addition to creating an environment conducive to learning.
Teaching with Mindfulness fosters the pedagogical community, in which students flourish academically, emotionally, and socially; and in which teachers make the most of the climate that is created within this educational environment. Mindfulness is a conscious and intentional way of tuning in to what is happening within us and around us, and allows unmasking automatisms and promoting integral development.
Mindfulness is increasingly popular in schools
Mindfulness became popular in the West thanks to the University of Massachusetts physician Jon Kabat-Zinn, who in 1978 began using Mindfulness with patients suffering from chronic stress. Since then, Mindfulness has been applied in different areas, such as clinical , occupational or sports.
Scientific studies show that regular Mindfulness practitioners have higher neural density, greater well-being, are more efficient in their work, and are less prone to depression or anxiety. In recent years, Google has trained its employees in Mindfulness with the Search Inside Yourself program , and many leading companies have followed suit.
In the educational context, Mindfulness has also been put into practice in many schools and institutes. In Spain, there are several autonomies that are participating in the development of this practice. The Government of the Canary Islands implemented for the first time a compulsory subject that is called Emotional Education, and that includes Full Attention as part of its agenda. In Andalusia, the trainer and researcher in the field of Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence, Olivia Recondo, teaches courses on Emotional Intelligence through Mindfulness for trainers in collaboration with the Junta de Andalucía. In Aragon the Happy Classrooms Program is carried out, in Catalonia the Treva Program, and in the Valencian Community the Conscious Schools Program.
Only a conscious educator can educate consciously
Teachers are people who play a fundamental role within society, as they carry out the important function of educating future generations. Their work is not only focused on teaching theoretical knowledge, but they are also in charge of promoting a series of values and skills in students for their development within society.
Being a teacher is not always an easy task, and the great demands that come with being a teacher can cause chronic stress, emotional fatigue and relationship problems with students. Mindfulness has proven its effectiveness in these situations. For example, reducing teacher stress, sick leave, depression, anxiety or burnout.
The regular practice of Mindfulness equips teachers with tools that allow them to face problematic situations and help improve their quality of life and well-being. This, in turn, has an impact on their performance and their relationship with their students, resulting in an optimal educational environment for learning.
Benefits of Mindfulness in teachers
Some of the benefits that Mindfulness brings to teachers are the following:
- Improves attention focus and awareness
- Increases responsiveness to student needs
- Promotes emotional balance
- Supports stress management and reduction
- Promotes good health in personal relationships at work
- Improves the classroom climate and fosters an optimal environment for learning
- Supports general well-being and self-esteem
Benefits of Mindfulness in students
The ability to reflect on one’s inner world, and on one’s own emotions and thoughts with a compassionate attitude towards oneself, brings benefits for the well-being of students, and is an essential part of Mindfulness training.
A meta-analysis carried out in 2011 by Joseph Durlak, and in which 270,000 students of all academic stages participated, concluded that those students who had completed social-emotional education programs in primary school, not only showed significant improvements as adolescents in behavioral issues (for example, being less violent), but also obtained an improvement in their academic results compared to those who did not receive this training.
But not only emotional regulation is an essential part of Mindfulness training, and there are many studies that have provided scientific evidence on the positive influence of Mindfulness on the so-called executive functions of the brain, such as attention, memory or mental flexibility, all essential for good personal and academic performance.
Regular mindfulness practice is beneficial to students for many reasons. Below are the benefits that Mindfulness brings to students:
- Improves academic performance
- Improves participation in the classroom by promoting impulse control
- Improve concentration and attention
- Encourages the willingness to learn
- Encourages self-reflection and self-reliance
- Enhance empathy and understanding towards others
- Encourages prosocial behaviors and healthy interpersonal relationships
- Improves social and emotional learning
- Durlak, JA, Weissberg, RP, Dymnicki, AB, Taylor, RD & Schellinger, KB (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82 (1): 405–432.
- Frank J. et al. (2015): “The effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction on educator stress and well-being: results from a pilot study”. Mindfulness 6, 208-216.
- Hassed Craig and Chambers, Richard (2014). Mindful learning: reduce stress and improve brain performance for effective learning. Exisle Publishing.