Mindfulness as a Way of Life… Not Only When Being Mindful

Are you one of the mindful people?  I am.  Well, I try to be.  I love the ideas of presence and breathing and noticing and all those mindful things.  I know the best relaxation techniques; I use them personally and with my students.  I take time to notice those around me and the sensations within me.  Breathe.  Be present.

But what about the rest of the day?  If we can take 10 minutes to be mindful on purpose that is good.  How, though, can we keep mindfulness going as a way of life?

To begin with let’s stop being busy.  Some folks wear busyness as a badge of honor.  They don’t have time and can’t make time.  They fill their schedules and their children’s schedules with so much to do that there is no time to be bored.  I loved being bored as a kid- that’s when I was at my most creative, much to the chagrin of my parents.  We dug holes and drilled holes and played Evel Kenievel.  “Go outside and play” was never a punishment but a liberation: discover, wonder, create, and sometimes get in trouble.  How often do you go out and play, whatever that means for you now, with no plan nor agenda?

Then, let’s be aware of our screens.  How many screens do you have that keep you busy?  Computer? Tablet? Phone? Kindle?  Which Joneses do you feel a need to keep up with?  The news?  A TV show?  Facebook? Instagram? Twitter?  How much time does that leave for friends and family face-to-face?  In my case, not enough.  So, I am mindful of my screen time and am trying to reduce it.  It is hard, though, when the emails come at all hours and a friend is posting photos on Instagram of his new house in a new country.  With email at work I try not to send email from home or on weekends.  I cannot be present nor help others be present when I interrupt them with things that can wait.  Perhaps we can agree to fewer emails after hours and more face-to-face during hours.

Finally, let’s focus. We  know that multi-tasking is a myth yet we still try to do too much (if you are always busy you might be trying to do too much).  A Jack of all trades is a master of none.   Businesses speak of core competencies: what are the main products and services of your business?  If you try to do too many things you may do none well.  The core competency of schools is education.  Is your school doing too many other activities?  How many of them can be done by parents and members of the community so that teachers can focus on the education of the students?  Bringing in the wider community brings people together and actually builds community because it does take a village.

Let’s be mindful of how we live life: We only get one chance at today.  Name your priorities and live them knowing it is okay to say no.  Build community and make time.  Me?  I’m gonna go out and play and breathe and notice.

Unfair to Learn?

Is it unfair to learn?

As I teach my classes, four sections of the same grade level content, I become a better teacher-  I notice the mistakes that the previous class made;  I understand their misunderstandings; I see the gaps in my teaching.  I learn.  That being said, class #4 receives all of my learning from the previous three classes and produces higher quality work.  They may even receive, on average, higher grades (I will check to see if this last item is true).

Is this unfair for class #1?  Is it unfair that the teaching they receive, because they receive it first, will always be a little less complete and polished?  Is this like asking if it is unfair for the first child in a family to have to train the parents?

Now, I return to weave the threads of learning for that first class, perhaps with colors not as bright but beautiful nonetheless.

Recursos en español/ Spanish Resources

Here is a list of resources that I have been compiling over the years.  Most of them are links to texts and curriculum from all over Latin America.  Enjoy!

Son antologías que se usan en países de habla hispana de primer grado a 6to grado

 

Sick in Bed

a four-legged horse
with a very flat back
carried cereal and milk
which Jack will attack

with his sword and a slurp
he’ll devour his prey
this banquet for kings
will return him to play

My School, My Teacher

I hate it on the playground
when someone’s on the swing.
I wait and wait and wait my turn
but hear the lunch-bell ring.

I love it, though, in springtime
and my teacher I adore
when recess isn’t over
and she gives ten minutes more.

I hate it in the classroom
when we’re sitting down to write
and Rob blames me for punching Pete.
Teach’ knows I never fight.

I love ‘em, though, the stories
of future, present, past.
I wish those times of wonder
Could last and last and last

(Ending 1)
My school is like kitchen and
my teacher’s like a mother-
serving up the Lima beans
with cookies like no other.

(Ending 2)
My school is like a woodshop and
my teacher’s like a dad-
sanding imperfections of
rough edges that I had.

On the Threshold

From Beauty Is an Edge of Becoming by Krista Tippett and John O’Donohue:

“If you go back to the etymology of the word ‘threshold,’ it comes from ‘threshing,’ which is to separate the grain from the husk. So the threshold, in a way, is a place where you move into more critical and challenging and worthy fullness. There are huge thresholds in every life. You know that, for instance, if you are in the middle of your life in a busy evening, fifty things to do and you get a phone call that somebody you love is suddenly dying, it takes ten seconds to communicate that information. But when you put the phone down, you are already standing in a different world. Suddenly everything that seems so important before is all gone and now you are thinking of this. So the given world that we think is there and the solid ground we are on is so tentative. And a threshold is a line which separates two territories of spirit, and very often how we cross is the key thing.”

And where is beauty in that?
“Where beauty is — beauty isn’t all about just niceness, loveliness. Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming. And when we cross a new threshold worthily, what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition that were in us that had us caught somewhere. So I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”

Beautiful!

For more, you can read Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue.

Ways to End an Opinion Paragraph

Now it is time for the first graders- How do you end an opinion paragraph?  Here I offer three possibilities.

  1. Just Say It
    Dogs are the best pet.
    Vanilla is the tastiest flavor ever!
    Minnesota will be the best state you ever visited!
  2. Simple Summary Statement
    That’s why dogs are the best pet.
    Clearly vanilla is the tastiest flavor ever.
    For these reasons, Minnesota is finest of all the 50 states.
  3. Act! Do! Go! Try!
    Go get a dog!  You will see how great a pet they are!
    So try vanilla ice cream and you will see that it is the best flavor you have ever tried!
    Are you going to go to Minnesota? Yes!  You will love the lakes and trees and snow.