Communication is at the heart of what we do as educators. Whether we are speaking, listening, writing or thinking, our verbal and nonverbal communication patterns have profound impacts on our relationships and interactions.
Discover how mindfulness can support us in changing communication habits and transform how we show up in the classroom and beyond.
What is Mindful Communication?
Mindfulness supports us in being present while communicating and interacting with others, including during those moments that are uncomfortable or challenging. Mindful communication includes the intent to be open and curious, while focusing attention on the experience, needs, and feelings of others (and yourself). Practicing mindful communication can support more compassionate, clear, and skillful actions and interactions. It is a laser focus on what really matters, here, at this moment in time.
Back to School Night: A Success Story
Recently, a teacher shared a success story about Back to School Night, after practicing new strategies she learned in our Mindful Communication course.
We know Back to School Night can be exhausting and stressful. It usually happens after a full day of teaching, followed by the rush to prep classrooms for multiple parent presentations. At this year’s Back to School Night, this teacher took a slightly different approach:
She reflected on her typical experience at Back to School Night:
- Feeling excited and overwhelmed;
- Going through the motions;
- Feeling disembodied, not even remembering what she had said, even though she had speaking notes;
- And at the end of the night, feeling certain that she had done a “bad job.”
This year’s Back to School Night was different.
She practiced grounding herself in the present moment. She felt the sensations of her feet on the floor. She noticed her standing posture by focusing on the centerline of her body.
She focused on her intention for the night. During presentations, she came back to what was really important in the moment: letting parents know how much she cared about their students; her excitement for teaching and the value of her class; her excitement to see students grow throughout the year.
“Best of all, I actually enjoyed myself for the first time in 30 years of doing these!”
She felt like she was able to connect with each parent. She enjoyed herself at Back to School Night for the first time in thirty years of teaching.
By changing a habitual response to a stressful situation, this teacher experienced Back to School Night in a completely different way. And she likely changed the experience for parents as well.
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Pause and Ask: What matters to you at this moment?
This teacher was able to enjoy an experience that for many years had felt grueling by focusing on her intention, while using practices to stay present.
When you find yourself in a similar moment:
- Ask: What really matters, right here, right now? For this teacher, she discovered what really mattered was to communicate how much she cared for students and how excited she was about what the class would be learning this year.
- Practice a pause. This teacher expressed feeling her feet on the ground and noticing the centerline of her body. These anchors brought her to the present moment and supported her in connecting to the parents in her classroom
We often say that mindfulness is simple, but not always easy. A short reflection on intention and finding an anchor for presence are simple concepts, but changing the habits ingrained in our nervous systems takes practice. We invite you to notice the patterns in your own ways of communicating in the classroom, and be patient and gentle with yourself as you practice something new.