Having noticed an increase in the frequency of ‘mindfulness’ in the press and social media, perhaps it wasn’t surprising that it infiltrated discourse in education. It has been well used for decades in the NHS to promote mental wellbeing. Although health and wellbeing is a priority in our curriculum, I wondered if mindfulness was deserving of this increased attention or if it was yet another initiative which would steal precious time then wither away in a few years. I have had a few uncomfortable moments recently, as I make my way back into the classroom after two years in a very different educational environment. I’ve described myself as ‘a fish out of water’ as I try to explain my chaotic thoughts to solicitous family and friends.
I’ve been informed more than once that I set unreasonable expectations for myself, causing needless pressure in trying to meet them. And I’m no stranger to sleepless nights and having a good old worry. I have worked silly hours for the past two weeks, only to feel as if I’m treading water and not achieving anything. (Despite my new HT warning me not to do this!) This is not good for me, my family or for the pupils for whom I am responsible. So, while filling my supermarket trolley with neon pencils and pens, rubbers, highlighters, the essential Sharpies and endless laminating pouches, I saw ‘Colour me Mindful’. A book that urged me to relieve stress and feel at peace. Since all my pennies had gone on stationery, it was fortunate that it had been reduced greatly. I decided to give it a go, to see if I could find this contentment.
I knew of colouring books for adults; I had thought they might involve the colouring of rude pictures, if I thought of them at all. These, however, were very intricate drawings of underwater scenes and I spent a pleasant afternoon completing my first. It was indeed relaxing and I let my thoughts wander. Benchmarks floated away as I decorated a starfish and planning vanished as a shell became gold and yellow. My mind calmed and I began to see the bigger picture of my teaching once more. The aches and pains have gone. This has been a timely reminder to slow down and take smaller steps. It will ultimately benefit the pupils and my family. Now, I feel ready to tackle the weekend’s tasks in a much more productive way and I was inspired to write this, my first blog. It occurs to me that mindfulness could be invaluable for many pupils. Too many children experience turbulent and troubled lives, and if it helps them to be ready to learn skills that will help them now and in future, then I feel it should jostle for a place in the busy curriculum. I look forward to finding out more about how I can support my pupils with renewed vigour, while remembering to take the foot off the proverbial accelerator, so I can be a better teacher.