Using Technology to Access Wellbeing
Usually when we hear the word “technology” used in the context of well being, it’s a discussion on how technology is a threat to our well being, the need to limit screen time, or about the negative effects of social media, the news, YouTube, etc.
However, I believe that technology isn’t inherently good or bad, it is simply a tool that can be used in numerous way; and in my experience, technology has been the a great way to access information about, and a resource to aid well being. Plus, it has been the perfect way to introduce mindfulness lessons to my students.
I first became aware of mindfulness when I started doing yoga at University to help with stress and anxiety. I loved the practice so much that after I graduated, I traveled to India to become a certified yoga instructor. After a couple of years teaching yoga, I realized that it wasn’t just yoga I loved, but I really enjoyed teaching itself. I decided to go back to school to become licensed as a secondary English teacher.
Right away, I knew I wanted to try incorporate some of what I knew and loved about yoga and mindfulness into my classes, but even as a yoga teacher I was incredibly nervous to teach it. I was afraid my students and colleagues would think I was strange or silly or wasting time. Plus, my first year of teaching was so overwhelming that, even though I probably needed it more than ever, teaching mindfulness was shelved in favor of basic survival.
It wasn’t until my school received a grant for 1-1 Chromebooks, and I became passionate about incorporating technology into my lessons, that I realized I could use technology to provide my students access some of the mindfulness material that I was hesitant about teaching myself.
As I started to dig in, I realized that there are so many great videos, apps, and websites specifically designed to teach mindfulness and well being, and I didn’t have to take on the burden of planning and teaching it every week alone. Instead I could post a guided meditation or an informative video for my students on their Google Classroom once a week, and they could work on it individually.
This became what my students and I called “Mindful Mondays.” For the first 5 mins of class each Monday, my students knew they would do a mindfulness exercise with their devices as their “Do Now” activity. They would put on their headphones, close their eyes, and breathe.
Not only did it work, but it became my students' favorite part the class.
For schools that don’t have access to 1-1 devices, Mindful Mondays could still easily be done as a whole class by playing the videos or audio through the projector; but the great thing about doing it on an individual level is that because my students have the privacy of their own headphones to listen to the instructions to, it seems to take away the social anxiety of doing something a little odd and different.
I noticed that if I were to do a mindfulness lesson or exercise with the whole class, there would be a lot more nervous giggling and jokes and a general lack of focus. When the students had their headphones in, they would get comfortable, close their eyes, and put in sincere effort.
Below are a couple of the resources and websites I would pull from when planning my Mindful Monday lessons.
Taking Care of Yourself as a Teacher
As my mindfulness lessons became more popular with the students, I started to get requests from my fellow teachers for yoga and mindfulness lessons.
I started teaching yoga lessons once a week to my fellow teachers, and realized how necessary it is for teachers to take the time to focus on their own well being in order for us to truly lead by example for our students.
Today, when Monday Morning rolls around, I get out of bed and open up my Google Classroom app, and do the Mindful Monday lesson myself. It helps me get centered, focused, and excited for the week ahead.