Mindfulness is a great practice for trauma-affected youth to develop self-regulation. To use it as a classroom management tool in support of students’ growing personal control, start by developing a daily practice so students know what tools they have to choose from and how to use them. Next, make all hardware and software students might need to engage in guided mindfulness activities readily available. Set up a set of expectations for how students access the activities, how long they can use them, and what they can expect if they misuse them. Finally, support students in decide when it’s the right time to use mindfulness to regain control. Make sure to be consistent.
Mindfulness is a great alternative to power struggles. You should use it to help trauma-affected students to self-regulate and remain in class without losing too much instructional time, making a scene, or embarrassing them. Also, it will help them develop self-regulation. But how do you do it? Keep reading to learn how to incorporate mindfulness as a classroom management tool.
1. Teach Mindfulness
First, students need to know how to use mindfulness. This tool won’t work unless you use a mindfulness practice every day (or as often as possible) with students. If you need to start there, read my blog post titled “How to Make Mindfulness a Consistent Part of your School Day.” If you’re already there, keep reading. By exposing students to and teaching them how to use several mindfulness tools, they will know how to use them and what they are. That way they can access them independently and even develop preferences and a sense of ownership.
2. Have Supplies Ready
Next, students might need physical objects to practice mindfulness. Some of these include technology and headphones (for guided meditations), a weighted blanket, a rocking chair, and/or a meditation jar. Have a consistent place where they always live so students can access them without thinking too much. If they don't put them back, ask them to do so later.
3. Set Expectations
Perhaps the most important part of making this work is to set up expectations and support students in following them. The expectations should outline when a student should plan on doing a mindfulness activity, how they should ask for that to happen, how long they can use the activity, and what will happen if they misuse the mindfulness activity.
Making mindfulness a tool for classroom management has a lot to do with prevention. You should work with students to develop several protocols and structures to start a mindfulness practice, learn when and how to use it as a tool for staying engaged, how to ask for it, and what might happen if students misuse it. Try your hardest to never be punitive or prescriptive around mindfulness as a tool for classroom management. Give students as much control as you can!
Check out the video that inspired this post!
My name is Erin E. Silcox. I'm working on my Ph.D. in Literacy Education, focusing on the intersection of trauma and literacy. I want to deepen our base of knowledge about trauma-informed practices in schools and help teachers apply findings right now.