The Power of Responding, instead of..

… Reacting.

“Responding” vs. “Reacting”. I want to differentiate between the two. What triggered this post was an article I read on NPR titled “When Teachers Take a Break, Students Can Bloom“.

It has been many years since I first started my yoga and mindfulness practice. And only recently have I realized the power of yogic principles in the K-12 classroom. 

Taking a moment to pause, be mindful, and select an appropriate response is something I continue to improve on each day. This technique of “responding” instead of the reflex of “reacting” is something I carry with me at all times, especially when I am teaching.

There is so much power in “Recognizing and Responding”, instead of “Rushing and Reacting”.

The article tells the success story of a teacher who is using mindfulness to become more attuned to her students. “For example, rather than be set off by a kid who is tapping on a desk, she can recognize if he or she is trying to cope with attention difficulties. “
Teacher meditates on her classroom desk.

My own success story happened when a kid in my math class crumpled up his assignment into a ball and shot it across the room towards the trashcan. While I could have immediately gotten angry at him for tossing his homework, I chose to not let it faze me and instead commented on how he needs to work on his basketball skills (he missed the trashcan). He was shocked I wasn’t yelling at his misbehavior. I let him shoot again, and then proceeded to ask why he threw his homework away. He admitted he thought fractions were pointless and too hard. This led to us discussing how I could serve him better, and eventually this student left with the feeling that I truly cared about his learning. From that day forward our relationship was much stronger and full of a greater understanding. 
Teaching, especially in K-12, is a stressful job. However, as teachers, we need to recognize that stress and having a reactive personality will not help any situation. When students see us as calm individuals leading emotionally positive and supportive classrooms, that is when true learning and growth can occur.
So please remember: When times get rough–pause and take a breath. Then, intentionally respond rather than instinctively react.
Share in the comments below: How have you been more mindful in your actions? What success stories do you have from responding thoughtfully instead of reacting hastily? 
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