M1S3 and M2S1 Self-Awareness & Research + Self-Management & You
I was elated to be back at Barrow after five long weeks away from y’all! We opened our session with a brief illustration of the power of intention. We first practiced a simple balance post without intention. Then we invited balance and groundedness into our bodies by saying to ourselves “May I be grounded, may I be strong, may I be balanced, may I be unwavering” and tried the posture again. After a brief 5 minutes standing practice (Half Sun Salutation, ___ Spinal Rotation, Eagle Arms) a face massage for ourselves, and a short meditation, we discussed whether there was a difference between the two balancing sessions. It was not immediately evident from watching you that there was a difference because you’re all fairly experienced with yoga and fitness, and make it look easy! Nonetheless, almost everyone nodded and chimed in that they felt more stable after setting the intention for groundedness.
We talked about intentions as “a healthy bridge between where we are and where we want to be”. I shared these possible roots for setting intentions:
May I feel…
May I know…
May I honor…
May I connect to…
May I be…
We also had some great discussion about how intentions differ from affirmations. For the purpose of our discussion we talked about affirmations as statements that are made in the present tense such as “I am healthy”. Some participants felt that affirmations are less “honest” or less “gentle” than the same concept worded as an invitation “May I appreciate the health I have today”, for example. One participant had more familiarity with affirmations and she shared a more nuanced opinion that affirmations are meant to put you in a receptive or inviting space. It sounds to me that a mindful approach to affirmations can have similar benefits as intentions.
CASEL describes self-management as:
“The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.
We discussed how self-management often looks WITHOUT mindfulness. We talked about strategies, tools, and approaches such as calendars, incentives, timers, managing stress with practices like eating chocolate, etc. Then we brainstormed how self-management can look with a mindful approach -- “on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment”. Ideas like positive self-talk, taking healthy breaks, remembering the big picture, and breaking work into small chunks intentionally came up. We noted that there is a small but important difference in our mindset when we approach self-management from a kind and non-judgmental place. We strive to model that for our students and encourage them to develop self-management skills from a place of mindful awareness.
Lastly, we returned to the article I posted on the site last month by Black & Fernando.
We discussed how it was not surprising to us that more mindfulness sessions improved teacher-reported attention but not other outcomes. It’s possible that it’s easier for teachers to perceive this compared to the other more nuanced outcomes (engagement, social interaction, etc.) so their ratings may have been more accurate. But perhaps the most obvious explanation for this finding is that attention is most closely aligned with the mindfulness practices themselves.
I selected this article because it’s a great example of some frequent issues that come up in classroom mindfulness research. Issues related to self-selection, lack of controls, and the impossibility of blind or double blind research. Having some or all of these research features does make research findings more robust but they are not absolute requirements. In the early days of a new line of inquiry we do what we have to do, particularly working with the ever-changing and complex world of education!
On the topic of self-management...I want to get you all thinking about your professional goals and how I can help you! My contract includes time for classroom observations and/or individual consulting sessions for each of you as desired. To that end, please start this conversation with me now, via the SWOT analysis. This is a commonly used tool in the nonprofit sector and invites us to look at our strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats, with regard to a specific goal. The packet I provided includes space for you to write your intention for including mindfulness in your classroom, apply the SWOT analysis to that specific goal, and identify ways I can help you get there. We worked on it for 10 minutes during our session today. Please bring that completed by next session so that I can begin to offer specific consultation plans to each of you!
Before our next session, please practice a daily 5 minute meditation with an intention. It could be the same intention each day, or you may find it evolving on a daily basis. Report back to us how that goes!