/kənˈtājəs/ (of an emotion, feeling, or attitude) likely to spread to and affect others.
June 1st brings a new meaning to chaotic schedules in the education setting. As we prepare to wind down a school year, we fill the days with energetic, end-of-the-year events and nerve-wracking assessments. This welcomes a slew of feelings that can spike or drop at any given time...both for the educators, students and even our families.
If you don’t think that the stressful feelings of rush, rush, rush in our lives is being felt by our kiddos, think again. Dr. Dan Siegel (author of The Whole Brain Child, Mindful Brain and many more) has done extensive research to support the idea of emotional contagion-how one person’s emotional state impacts another. The end-of-year anxiety that we feel can be felt by our students and children. Their pops of relentless energy just may be a group response to the edginess that we feel as we scramble to fit everything in. (And we always do, don’t we? So what’s the use in worrying...)
The essential question: How can we keep the flow of our classroom (and home) calm, cool and collected through the end of the year chaos?
Happy last days of school!
It is mid-March and WOW are things ramping up at home and in the classroom. Talk about cabin fever!! I don’t blame them, as I think we are all feeling the need for sunshine, warmth and outdoor activity.
Movement and exercise is essential to a healthy mind space. Fresh outdoor air is a natural relaxant for many of us, too. It is no wonder that those of us in the chilly U.S. are feeling the restless winter blues.
If your home or classroom is anything like mine, you can feel the energy that is wound so tightly in the little bodies of our loved ones. They are ready to run free...but the weather just hasn’t quite cooperated for that yet. Rather we feel the energy level tides rise up high. And with all of that energy, despite the songs, dances, jumping jacks and mindful practices that we do, there is still so much zest that is left flowing; often uncontrollably. Because of this, it can come out sideways. Behaviors that are not typical for your kiddos will start to rear their ugly heads. As the teacher or parent mixed into the chaos, you may find yourself extinguishing mini fires all over the place due to these heightened emotions.
Today was that day for me. Both at home and in the classroom. This is the day that I had to engage my best “POWER POSTURE.” The talking was continuous, the bodies were energized, and the self-help skills were MIA. Maybe your challenging day was yesterday or maybe it will come tomorrow. Whenever it is, know that there is help. And that help lies inside of you.
It is your posture.
This posture is two-fold. It is in the way that you physically hold your body while standing or sitting, how you carry yourself. It is also in how you approach or deal with a situation. Combine the two in a mindful way and you can survive without losing it! (I can speak from experience! haha)
Tips to engage Power Posture on challenging days:
*shoulders back, chin up
Posture of the Mind:
*step away from the situation to avoid a knee-jerk reaction
*take a few deep belly breaths and lengthen the exhale upon release
*accept that this stressful moment is just that-a moment that can be released
*reflect on how you’ve responded to such behaviors in the past and apply what you learned.
Once your Power Posture is engaged, you can take on anything--even a roomful of energetic bunnies rustling around! And remember...this too shall pass. Stand tall, speak strong (yet calm) and be a role model for a mindful, caring response to a stressful situation.
Kindness given is kindness returned
Snowball Effect: descriptive of an entity or situation where something once small and relatively insignificant grows exponentially at a swift pace, engulfing everything in its path. As it descends down a snowy hill, it gathers more snow and whatever leaves, sticks, etc. are in its way. ~urbandictionary.com
Is this not something that we live for as parents? As educators? Moments when we realize that our children are empowering one another and creating a positive impact. If only were as easy it sounds! ;-)
As a pre-kindergarten teacher, we try our best to model acts of kindness and recognize them publicly when we witness tender actions being taken by children in our school community. However, often it comes primarily from the staff members recognizing the students, not necessarily the students recognizing each other. This was the path that my TA & I were on until December of this year when I came across an old picture. It was a photo of six of my fourth grade students speaking in front of a school-wide PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports) assembly. They held up a self-designed “SNI” logo, surrounded themselves with stacks of sticky notes and showcased smiles filled with pride and hope.
*SNI: Sticky Notes Incorporated. The idea that the kids were empowered to present to the school was one of student to student recognition. If you witnessed or experienced a random act of kindness, you were to jot it down on a sticky note and plop it onto the hallway walls. The goal being to cover the walls with kindness from end to end. And boy, did we do just that...and ensured a custodial nightmare for two weeks!
That memory challenged me. Yes, they were 10 year olds mindfully recognizing one another, but why couldn’t my 4 & 5 year olds try that, too? So we did. Shifting the ownership to the kiddos to cheerfully give and receive compliments took on a world of its own. Are they sometimes literal, such as “L told me that she likes my shirt,” and her pants, her shoes and her book bag...LOL. Of course they are! But they still make each other smile and they are purposeful moments created by being aware of the present.
As the days go on, the compliments and acts of kindness are gaining depth. Realizing that we were witnessing a true “snowball effect,” as new children joined in on creating moments of kindness each day, we don’t want to stop the descension on the snowy hill. There are still people to pick up along the way! With some basic white copy paper cut into circles and a bulletin board, our Mountain of Kindness is taking on an incredible slope of its own.
“Make an effort to live in cheerful kindness. When you are kind to others, you receive kindness in return.” ~Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
the blog space
I'm obsessed. This is fabulous. LOVE that you are doing this. The new way of being a student forces us to think outside the box and approach how we teach more dynamically.
~Derek, Father of 2 and Elementary School Principal
Just a girl with a dream to collectively build a healthy mind space for children, while creating a healthier mind space for ourselves.
Copyright Healthy Mind Space 2019