Mindfulness: A Natural Bridge to Inclusive Teaching

Without a doubt, being mindful, in any respect, is hard. Some Most days I am on autopilot. I just do what needs to get done so I can move on. Having mindfulness feels like it requires time. Time to be aware. Time to rethink the way you make your decision or reconsider the way you laid out your syllabus. The thought of using all of this time is daunting; so mindfulness is often let go and mindlessness ensues, because it seems easier, faster, and if it “works” why fix it.  With this attitude, you are sure to do a disservice to your students. When Deel says she thought teaching was just something you did to pay the bills while you did research, I was like, yea…that explains a lot about my undergrad experience.

After reading Deel’s Finding My Teaching Voice I see how important is to not only be mindful of your students, but of yourself. As a teacher, you want to encourage your students take pride in their individuality be themselves in all forms. So why should a teacher expect any less from themselves. Deel proves that understanding yourself and shining a light on your natural qualities will only improve your teaching abilities and experience. If you can be mindful of those traits and aspects that make you who you are, then who you are as a teacher will naturally start to flow and make sense. In turn, you will be more confident, comfortable, excited about teaching. Deel also talk about the freedom from doubting yourself as a teacher also allows you to focus more on improving the needs of students based on their individuality. She says:

They don’t enter my classroom with identical backgrounds and thy won’t leave it with identical understating, no matter what I do. In my individual interactions with students, I focus more on improving their understanding and I spend less time worrying if I’ve made the same particular statement to all the students in the class.

I think without the act of mindfulness, she would have never some to this thought. This moment of understanding the context of her classroom by seeing her students as individuals, she was able to create an inclusive setting. With mindfulness, we see inclusion from a personal perspective instead of just a box to check.  Deel also encourages the exploration of new ways of teaching as one’s voice will inevitable change. Not only your voice changes, but the student’s as well. The definition the article Mindful Learning uses – “A flexible state in which we are actively engage in the present…” – is a nice a way to think about teaching and learning. If both teachers/students became more open to new ways of teaching/learning, then maybe we could mitigate barriers that limit our perspectives of ourselves and those who educate. Being open to change, having awareness of multiple perspectives, and being aligned with the present allows for a more mindful relationship with yourself and your students.  I will try much harder to allow myself to stop so that I can be more aware of the present. I am reminded of someone’s post from the Online Teaching and Learning blogs, where they mentioned that with all of this “at-our-finger-tips” technology, it leaves our brains with these open shelves, cognitively speaking.  Maybe we can start filling those shelves with mindfulness and get the best of both worlds 😊

7 thoughts on “Mindfulness: A Natural Bridge to Inclusive Teaching

  1. It is so easy just to take every day on autopilot – wake up, drink coffee, research, eat, sleep. It seems like the whole world is fixated on having that perfect schedule for the day and then never deviating from it, never coming up with new solutions or ways to think. As full time faculty someday, it is going to get harder and harder. We need to learn to be mindful of our habits and to think about how WE can stick out and not become yet another member of the status quo. We gotta learn to rethink and actually be present.

  2. I love this quote from your post, Cristina: “If both teachers/students became more open to new ways of teaching/learning, then maybe we could mitigate barriers that limit our perspectives of ourselves and those who educate. ” Mindfulness is not just a concept that applies to teachers, but more so even to students since the latter are those who are acquiring knowledge and should be careful how they apply that knowledge to real-life situations for instance. And that’s what mindful learning teaches us.

  3. The quote about treating students as individuals also struck a chord with me. In the past, I’ve worried about giving each student the same information, to make sure I’m treating them fairly and giving them all equal access. In doing so, I failed to account for their different backgrounds and experiences.

    This section from Deel’s article reminded me of the baseball game/box cartoon illustrating the difference between equality and equity. Not all students need the same information to succeed. We need to adjust our teaching to each student, not the other way around.

  4. I really enjoyed your post and will definitely have a key takeaway “Mindfulness as a way of creating an inclusive environment “. And also I liked and agree with you in the fact where it requires not only the teachers but also the students to be open to new ways of teaching/learning. As I think myself of a student I do not know how much I have worked on this but as a teacher I would definitely want to work on this.

  5. I totally agree with your perspective on the mindfulness of teachers in the class. There are always situations that students might not be mindful in the class for several reasons and I think it’s partly the responsibility of teachers to change that. I wonder how teachers can improve students’ mindfulness in the class in those situations.

  6. I think teaching is a mindful process and it does not hurt to have mindful students. I have seen teachers to prepare their classes and plan to deliver a mindful message. However, there is always a possibility that a student may misinterpret the tone and/or message of the teacher; and vice versa. I think to avoid misunderstandings is important to clarify first, clarify again, and then proceed to decide if the process was intentionally tainted. There are teachers/students that present a problem for whatever reasons and they should be analyzed individually, trying to put prejudices aside to arrive to the most informed conclusion.

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