In the classes that I teach, I get the children to become Mindful Child Classroom Detectives. All children and adults too are encouraged to focus on what they want to see. Too many times we train our children to tell us all the ‘bad’ stories through what we focus and give our attention to. So one day, I asked the children what would they like to focus on. Together we focused consciously on what we wanted to see.
In the process of becoming Mindful Child Classroom Detectives, we brainstormed qualities and behaviours that they wanted to see. Qualities such as being kind, helpful, a leader, persisting (not giving up), resilience (bouncing back), friendliness and many more. We discussed what that looked like and sounded like. Then the student’s role played some situations. I too began to step into being a more Mindful Classroom Teacher in being explicit in noticing and sharing examples of those qualities that we had decided upon. Soon students began to embody being Mindful Child Classroom Detectives as they reported back on witnessing other students doing one or more of the qualities. I tied this into a positive acknowledgement classroom system of giving ‘Hi Fives’ (to be discussed in a future Blog) For example, I nominate Jack for helpfulness because he helped me with my maths. ‘I nominate Sarah for being kind because she asked me to play with her at break time.
The new Mindful Classroom Child Detectives absolutely loved the specific feedback from their peers who had caught them doing one of the qualities. Importantly, attention was also drawn to how this made them feel when they were being acknowledged for what they had wanted to see, hear and do. This was much preferred than the opposite of someone noticing and commenting on doing the ‘wrong’ thing, like swinging on their chair or not doing their school work etc.
A culture shift was happening in the class, but as the adult it was so important to monitor my own focus too on what I wanted to see. I was the driving force for change. I discussed my process too. Being open and honest was part of the learning too! After all, we are all in a society that is focused on sharing the ‘Bad’ news in our lives. My own self training was needed to. I was just as much becoming the detective of the Mindful classroom Child Detective. So the children could nominate me too!
When commenting on any achievement I started to ask the students, what character strengths they had practised. Rather than just a well done or good work. If I did see something I did not like (unless a safety issue) I would train my focus on questioning or giving attention to how they could use a strength in a situation. Therefore, creating space for them to develop further into being Mindful Child Classroom detectives.
Knowing there is a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating system (RAS) which basically shows us more of what we put our focus on in our life, such as noticing more of the same new car we bought. Then surely it makes sense to model the qualities we want our focus on, and to provide a platform for where the mindful classroom can allow space for our children to practice this. We all wish our children to lead positive and happier lives by being empowered by realising the choice to where we are putting out attention. Could this be a one way in doing so? My evidence suggests so. Thus, surely this process could sow seeds from being mindful child classroom detectives to Mindful Adult detectives in creating workplaces and families to mindfully make choices to what they wish to see in their lives. The question I ask myself each day… How will I be a Mindful Adult Detective in this Classroom of life?
- Andrew Holt
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