Getting in the Present Moment Clippings 2015 .pdf

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Original filename: Getting in the Present Moment - Clippings 2015.pdf
Title: 15-GHS_Clippings_Summer201_web(1)
Author: Robin Schneider

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GREEN HEDGES SCHOOL

16

getting in the Present

MOMENT

IT IS FRIDAY MORNING IN GRADE 2,
time for the weekly spelling test. Before
students pick up their pencils to write
down the dictated words, their teachers
help them prepare, relax, and focus.
“Give yourself a big gift,” instructs
Robin Schneider in a soothing voice.
“Close your eyes or look down, but don’t
put your head down. This is not rest time;
wiggle into your chairs; get comfortable;
get settled and still.” She strikes a chime
that looks like a miniature xylophone
and instructs, “Hold onto the sound
of the chime. Don’t let that sound go.
Pay attention to nothing but that sound.”

Relaxation, concentration and focus are mindfulness
skills that can be improved through practice, just like
spelling can. This morning’s exercise builds on a neardaily Grade 2 classroom practice that got its start at
the end of the previous school year, when Ms. Schneider
read A Mindful Nation by Congressman Tim Ryan.
She thought that the book’s subtitle, How a Simple
Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance,
and Recapture the American Spirit, might be applicable
not only to adults, but also to her students.
Back in Grade 2, the sound of the chime has faded
into silence. The teacher’s voice continues, “When you
can’t hear the sound anymore, make your hands into
tight little flower blossoms as you breathe in through
your nose, and then let them bloom as you breathe
out. Breathe in through your nose, out through your
mouth. And if there is another slow movement you
would rather do, do that, instead.” Hands open and
close slowly, shoulders visibly relax, and a sense of calm
pervades the room. Even the students whose eyes and
attention still seem to be in motion have slowed the
pace of their movements. Other instructions follow,
helping the students attend to their thinking, “What
mental images are you giving yourself? What feelings
come from them?”
After reminding them of choices they have in adjusting
their internal state, the teacher suggests, “Put your hand
on your PFC, the wise leader in your brain that helps
you make good decisions all day long.” A poster in the

trends, in relationship to its effectiveness, usefulness
and compatibility with the overall program.
Grade 2 co-teacher Emily Weber hopes to learn more
about the brain science behind mindfulness. “It is
helpful for students to have these strategies that calm
them and focus them, both in academic and in social
situations,” she says.

Mindfulness meditation has become increasingly
popular in schools and in society as its benefits have
been demonstrated by research. Publications lauding
its merits include The Washington Post, Washington
Parent, Independent School Magazine, and Harvard
Magazine. The role of mindfulness at Green Hedges
continues to be weighed, as are other educational

It is time for the spelling test to begin. Led by their
teacher, students say, out loud and then in a whisper,
“I will do my best on this test.” Then they pick up their
pencils and begin writing the spelling words that sound
out in the classroom. Not only are they better prepared
to take the test, but they now have a tool that they can
call upon for years to come.

REFLECTIONS ON MINDFULNESS
BY GRADE 2, edited for spelling:
“I think being in the present moment feels like a
silent moment where everything is calm and no one can
disturb my peace. It’s the best gift someone could ever
give to you but you don’t realize it at first. It’s a gift that
doesn’t break and lasts as long as you live and you
carry it around everywhere and no weight
gets added.”
“I think that getting in the present moment
really helps me to calm my body down.
I really am thankful that I learned how to
get in the present moment at the age of 8.”
“When I am getting in the present moment
at home, I like to go in my Mom and
Dad’s room because it is very peaceful
and quiet. I always like to close the door
so I can focus on my breathing. In school
we use a chime at home I use a light box.”
“It helps me put my worries away. I feel like I am
going to do breathing when I get older.

17
CLIPPINGS | SEPTEMBER 2015

classroom shows the PFC, also known as the prefrontal
cortex, along with other important brain structures like
the amygdala and the hippocampus. Studying brain
function gives students and teachers a helpful tool
for addressing classroom issues. If students need their
actions redirected, they can call up mental processes to
help them shift their own behaviors.


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