SAMS is implementing a few new techniques this year to teach students healthy alternatives in dealing with stress. Life is busy and it can be difficult to juggle the demands of work, family, and everything else that comes along with living in the 21st century. It can be overwhelming. Middle school students feel the same way as they are learning to navigate social situations, academic stressors, and responsibilities as they head into a new level of independence. Mindfulness is being aware of ourselves and others so that we can choose our behavior rather than react negatively as the typical knee jerk response. Taking time to notice how our actions are affecting others can have an incredible impact on our decision making and how others respond to us in return. Simple techniques like stretching and taking a deep breath is sometimes all it takes to “reset” a reactive response into a responsive action. At SAMS, teachers are practicing mindfulness in the classroom through discussions, breathing, and simple stretching as needed. This might include simple stretches to energize and engage the brain in the morning or may involve a calming breath before a long project or assessment. The goal is to practice mindfulness activities so that students can self regulate for themselves as needed.
Recently in Mrs. Muth’s classroom, the daily lesson included a lot of writing so she chose to prepare her students by doing Posture Prep. This exercise stretched and relaxed chest, back and arm muscles. Students were shown the example card and then Mrs. Muth guided the students through the brief exercise.
In addition to the Posture Prep, students also engaged in the Warrior stretch to further relax. At the end of the stretch the students were focused and ready to begin their school work.
All teachers at SAMS have been trained on this approach thanks to a grant written by Mrs. Palmer and funded through COMMON V.I.E.W. COMMON V.I.E.W. is a Common Vision for Improved Education and Wellness. This collaborative is funded by the United Way of Greater Lorain County and is conducted through the Lorain County Public Health (LCPH). Firelands schools, specifically SAMS and district representatives, have been working together for 2 years to identify learning opportunities and healthy options for our students.
Special thanks to Mrs. Palmer and Mrs. Muth for bringing Mindfulness to SAMS. These two teachers took the time to complete the 15 hours of training and then they taught the program to their colleagues over an additional 6 hours. Many of our teachers are customizing the program to benefit their students and we appreciate the creative methods that they are using!