One of the most valuable lessons a teacher can teach is how to be a friend to yourself and to others. You teach this when your classroom functions as a mindful learning community and when students cooperate in their own education. It needs to be taught both through modeling by the teacher as well as through designed lessons.
Before giving these practices to students, practice them yourself. They must be real to you in order for you to make them real to others. And then close your eyes and hold in your mind and heart an image of your students doing the exercise. Notice if you feel comfortable leading the students. If you feel discomfort, is it because you are not yet ready, or the students?
For too many of our children, unconditional love, and a sense of security and safety, are more of a yearning than a reality. They need to learn how to be kind, compassionate and non-judgmental to themselves so they can more easily show it to others, and the classroom provides a golden opportunity to practice this.
A Classroom Practice of Mindful Questioning and Inquiry
After you enter the classroom and greet students, you might ask:
What do you want from a friend? What does the word ‘friend’ mean to you?
Then ask students if they would like to go deeper with this question. If they answer affirmatively, ask them to sit up comfortably and close their eyes partly or fully. Then:
Gently, place your attention on your breath. Breathe in, letting your body expand, be nourished by the air. Then breathe out, noticing what it’s like to let go of the air, tension, and settle down. Do that for another breath or two.
Then think of the word ‘Friend.’ What words describe for you what being a friend means or what marks a person as a true friend? What thoughts, images, feelings? Simply notice what arises and move on to the next word or breath.
Think of any books you’ve read or movies you’ve seen that describe a good friendship.What characters come to mind? What makes him or her a friend? How does one friend treat another?
Take one more breath and then return your attention to the classroom.
Write down what you heard or saw in your mind.
With the whole class, or in small groups, let students share what they feel comfortable sharing about the experience. List on the chalkboard the words that students say they associate with being a friend.
What marks someone as a friend? Did honesty come to you? Care? Stimulating conversation? Loyalty?
Loyalty can be a mixed bag. You don’t want yes-men or women. You don’t want fakes. Do you do want someone who values who you are, not who they want you to be? Do you want someone who will think of your well-being as being as important as their own?….
To read the whole post, go to Mindfulteachers.org.