Unit 5:Mindfulness and Brain Processes

Breathe in. Breathe out. Again, breathe in. Breathe out. By taking just 5-10 minutes a day, we can all become more present in the moment. Mindfulness gives us the time and space to learn more about how our brains and body react in certain situations. We become aware of the amygdala’s response to fight, flight or freeze and can begin to regain control of ourselves as we learn to recognize the things that trigger the reaction. Daily practice teaches practical techniques to appropriately handle emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety, excitement and stress.  Our learners will begin to understand balance in their lives by becoming aware of the responses of the brain to certain stimulation. These findings allow us to step away from our initial reactions and consider what our brain is saying in all situations. This relationship between understanding of our brain systems and triggers is the final part of the circle in the development of Learner Agency. As this article highlights, this mindful agency empowers the learner to engage with challenge, risk and uncertainty to be able to grow with purpose.  

Unit Outcomes:

  • Develop an understanding of what mindfulness is and is not

  • Learn about, and how to support, executive brain functioning

  • Research mindfulness in the classroom to understand its benefits

Read, View and Review:

Activities:

  • Read through this article and choose 3 that would work in your environment.

  • Find this sample of a mindfulness practice at innerexplorer.org.  There is a free example session about 1/2 way down the page.  Chose your learners age band so you can experience what sessions are like for the appropriate age.  

  • Consider making your own mindfulness jar for your learning environment or have each person make their own!

  • Do you think a school-wide movement around Learner Agency is possible with your guidance?  Here is a worksheet for your team as you discuss ideas to work together to build support for all levels.  

Assignments:

  1. Share your experience with the mindfulness exercise.  What were some points you see that learners would struggle with and what are some of the potential growth opportunities?  Share with your instructor a 2-3 paragraph reflection of thoughts on mindfulness in the learning environment.  Remember to label the work with your name and Unit 5, Assignment 1.  

  2. Using your understanding of mindfulness, and the need for fostering the environment for our learners to embrace this everyday, choose 3 activities from the things you have read or find new ones to add to your 10 day curriculum that you plan on implementing in your learning environment.  Remember these activities should focus on understanding the areas of the brain, sourcing a mindfulness session, and reflection ideas for understanding the value.