Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Mindfulness Practices for an Equitable, Emotionally Safe Classroom

Mindfulness Practices for an Equitable, Emotionally Safe Classroom

Phe Bach, Ed.D, 
Chemistry teacher at Mira Loma High School  
Teresa Sanchez Tolbert, M.A., 
English teacher at Rio Americano High School

Intended Audience is teachers, counselors, nurses, classified employees, coaches, administrators, or anybody who is employed by the district and wants to learn about Mindfulness Practices.

Session Summary:

 Mindfulness transforms lives, rewires the brain, provides a relief from physical and emotional pain and enhances learning. Mindful practices in the classroom brings about a more respectful, tolerant and peaceful learning environment that is essential for the best quality teaching and learning for all students and even for those who might be struggling with conflict, trauma, or depression. Teaching our students how to live a mindful life and how to practice meditation gives them a lifelong skill for coping with the pressures of modern life in a turbulent world. 

Alignment to conference theme: Leading for Equity

Our sessions are aligned with the themes of fostering a Literate, Joyful and Stabilized Class which is well-suited to the needs of newcomers and refugees.  Mindfulness practices, such as meditation do not require any adherence to a religious value system or sophisticated communication skills.  Anybody, regardless of their language or ethnic background can meditate and live a mindful life.   Meditation in the classroom prior to the beginning of lessons or a stressful assessment relaxes students, and studies show, it helps them improve focus while diminishing anxiety.  A mindful classroom is joyful and stabilized as students learn to relax, feel appreciated, and relinquish anxiety about their lives outside of the classroom and/or about their academic tasks.  Teachers who show their student's mindful practices can incorporate short readings and writing assignments in their lessons, which we will show in the sessions. 


1.  Icebreaker (15 minutes)
Participants will quietly write about what they already know about mindfulness and meditation and how it can change the quality of life in or out of the classroom.  Then participants will find two people to share their ideas with and then we will share them out as a group.

2.   Next, we will do a guided meditation for 5 minutes as a whole group.  This will be led by Phe Bach. 

3.    Then we will go throughout PowerPoint with various pauses for reflecting, turning and talking, questions and answers, as well as ideas for how to apply or implement the mindful practices in the classroom.  We will pay special attention to Special Education and EL classroom applications in the course of the presentation, discussion, and reflection portions.  (1 hour)
 We will give participants a 10-minute break.

4. The first activity after the break will be another 7-minute guided meditation, more suited to older students (9--12th grades) and led by Teresa Tolbert. 

5.  Next, we will guide participants through a mindful eating exercise which can be done in any class with children from Kindergarten to 12th grade.   There is a written reflection portion of this as well, and participants will be asked to share their reflections aloud.  We will have time for questions about how to implement this activity with EL and Special Ed students, too.   (20 minutes)

6. Next, we will hand out excerpts from the book Teach, Breath, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom.   Participants will read the articles in pairs and annotate them, then participate in discussion with others about how to implement the practices in their own classrooms. We will also discuss how to use the article itself as part of a lesson in a high school classroom, or how to modify the article for use in a middle school classroom. There are also portions of the book with activities for elementary school students, and participants will have the option of choosing those portions.  (25 to 30 minutes) 

7. Participants will be given 20 minutes to form a small group and create a T-chart that represents what they've learned about mindfulness and what practices they plan to implement in their classrooms.   Charts will be posted and groups will be encouraged to go view other groups' T-charts as they're completed and posted.

8.  We will ask participants to complete a short feedback form to turn in as they leave. 

9.  We will end the three-hour session with a 10-minute guided meditation suitable and modifiable for students of all ages. 


The engagement strategies we will use think, pair, share; written reflection and sharing out; annotating the readings and T-charting.   During the PowerPoint, Phe will show some kinesthetic activities for younger students being trained in mindfulness.  These activities are also suitable for students with special needs and ELLs.  The beauty of mindfulness curriculum is that it is accessible to all students, regardless of color, special needs and/or level of language acquisition.   Mindfulness is a skill set that everybody already has; the skills just need to be honed with guidance.  Refugee students recovering from traumatic experiences can really benefit from mindful practices, which can be learned with limited ability to speak, write, or read English. 

Resources Needed: 
We will need the following items for our presentation:  a projector and screen, speakers, chart paper, pens, Post-Its, and small pieces of fruit for the mindful eating exercise. (Cuties work great because they are easy to peel and not messy.)

Dates we are available to present:
November 9th 8:30-3:30 or January 8th 8:30-3:30

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