Brain Talk!

It all starts with our brain… and realizing just how powerful that brain is can be vital when looking at ourselves, our stresses, fears and joys. Feeding ourselves a good, clear, clean, breath throughout the day, can help reset our brains and render a healthy, focused, stress-less person.  We can start by educating ourselves, and our kids, about the importance of our brain and our breathing.

 

Visit Ellen McHenry’s> here for a great brain learning template! For a better understanding of how the brain works – for the “non med student” – visit Geeks with Juniors,  a site for parents and kids.

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The Mind Up! series, from Scholastic and Goldie Hawn, is another great teaching resource for kids and adults learning more about the brain , breathing and mindfulness.

 

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Sparkle your Calm!

 

As part of my “mindfulness” work I talk to students about what their brains look like on a daily basis and how easy it is to allow too many ideas in… In fact, we have about 60-80,000 thoughts a day ! Trying to “see” those thoughts is , of course, impossible. But , sadly, many of them lead us to a lot of unnecessary stress.

I usually use the glitter/water balls or wands to show students just what this looks like. I also have a lovely little collection of holiday shakers too – but the jars are a great way to get kids involved too.

Our brains look much like these glitter jars… Tiny little thoughts floating all over, all of the time… If we allow the glitter to gently fall to the bottom, we can also visualize a way to, in fact, calm our minds and thoughts.

Making these jars is easy! Just follow the directions left here by The Untrainedhousewife! 

I used some mini glass jars for classes of 10-20 and got great responses! Some students love carrying these with them on test days too… Very inspiring minds……..

Being Mindful…

This weekend I had an amazing opportunity to attend a conference which integrates Mindfulness and Education… at the Omega Institute in NY – an absolutely beautiful little piece of paradise!

There were wonderful, well-versed, published speakers and experts… lots of great dialogue and best of all, a true sense of encouraging this movement into all of our schools!

I love all things visual SO, here are just a few “views” from my weekend… check out the omega link below for more great “views”! … as well as some of the other links ….

Making mindfulness part of anything you do can be a challenge, but with some daily work and practice, you can find strength and inner peace… It’s facing feelings head on, having no fear and taking that leap!

Go!

 

a few places to check out!

Omega – aka, little piece o’paradise!

MBA – mindful eduation inst.

MBA awareness project

Challenge Day 

CCMS – cntr for contemplative mind in society

 

The REAL Lessons

After thirteen years of teaching I got one. A student, a wise one, stopped and asked me something that I have felt and known for more than just my years of teaching.

“Sorry, I don’t mean for this to sound offensive,” she started, “well, I am learning a lot in your class, but I have to say it’s not like I’m really going to use most of the stuff I’ve learned over the past 4 years of my high school career.”

She was SO right. Someone else said what I couldn’t. Another student told her own classmates the same words I’ve wanted to tell them all, for so long, but, well, as a teacher, I couldn’t. The words wouldn’t come out the same way.

After a 30 minute class discussion, most of the students in the class shared their thoughts too.

“I agree with you,” I started, “I know it’s not the ‘norm’ to hear this, but yes, I am your teacher and I do agree with you.”

Of course I went on to tell them that our discussion wasn’t an “excuse” for not doing the work or even meant to keep them from coming to school – not at all.

“School is a part of your life, like it or not,” I reminded them, “but when you take away something that comes from beyond a chalkboard, textbook or worksheet, that’s when you’re truly learning.”

Reminding students that they’re there to learn is important. But I’m not a “Test” person. I’m not a numbers person either. I don’t like either. I don’t do well with numbers or tests. Knowledge can’t be based on those, it just doesn’t work.

“So why are we here?,” asks a classmate… And so, I gave them my little lecture, my opinion, of why they are “here” every day. It has nothing to do with the days of meeting in a one room school house. It has nothing to do with science, math or languages.

“In my opinion, after being a student myself and seeing so many others,” I started, “you’re all here to learn about yourselves, what’s in you. What do you enjoy? What don’t you enjoy? You’re also learning how to be more social, and interact with kids and adults. Along the way you may pick up some pieces of information you like, things you enjoy- store them. Retain those. Those are your interests, follow those passions.”

While I did add more to my little speech o’the day,  most of the students were content to hear my words. It gave them the “ok” to not worry so much about numbers and scores. Put those aside and you can enjoy the material, and learn it because you WANT to.

I should mention that most of these students are upperclassmen and honors students as well. They tend to do the most worrying about their GPA and SAT scores. They see a 85 on a quizz and break out in a sweat. I have other, younger students who feel and think the same, but maybe with some more discoveries, they too can start enjoying school more, fear less, and finding out a bit more about their true selves.