Education, Kids, Mental health, Mindfulness

5 Effortless Mindfulness Practices Any Teacher Can Add To Their Classroom Routine With Ease

The 2022/2023 school year is around the corner…

(Quite literally… NEXT WEEK! At least here in Canada… :P)

So, let’s get all you Educators out there motivated and ready to practice mindful moments this upcoming school year!

(Future you and your students will thank you for it!)

Are you ready…?

Time.

There just never seems to be enough of it.

Especially in a teacher’s day.

Always asking:

“How can I find the time?”

And understandably so…

Teachers have an extensive list of to-do’s!

An extensive, never-ending list…

HOW can we make time for Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is critical for students’ success, emotional intelligence, and for building life skills.

Mindfulness is essential for teachers’ success, peace of mind, and to prevent burnout.

So, where do we find the time?!

I have the answer for you!

Here are 5 EFFORTLESS Ways to Add Mindfulness into Your Classroom TODAY:

  1. Greet Students at the Door with Gratitude

    Many teachers greet their students at the door each morning. Instead of just saying hi… add a fun “Question of the Day” element by asking kids “What are you grateful for?” before entering. Not only is it a fun way to practice mindful gratitude, you’ll also learn more about your students’ lives!
  2. Take a Belly Breath In Between Classes

    When switching from Math to Science, or English to Social, take a quick moment to pause for a breath. Have students place their hands on their bellies and take one big deep collective breath together. Remind them they are breathing out the previous activity to make room for the next!
  3. Self Check-In’s

    First thing in the morning and at the end of the day, set a 30 second timer and have your students do a quick self check-in. Have students close their eyes (if comfortable) or gaze softly at a spot on the ground. Ask them to pay attention to any thoughts they are having, emotions that come up, or sensations in their body. Remind them not to place judgment on what comes up. Just notice it.
  4. Tapping Before a Test

    Before a test or any difficult assignment/activity, take 30-60 seconds to do a little tapping. Tapping is a wonderful way to decrease stress, it helps your students get into the right mindset before any nerve wracking activity. A quick minute is all you need. You can lead it or put on a tapping for kids youtube video! Try tapping in combination with positive affirmations too.
  5. Warm Up for Gym with Yoga or Mindful Stretching

    Gym is already part of the curriculum. And we already talk about the importance of stretching with our kids. Moving forward, add the mindful element to your stretching practice before beginning your gym class. Remind kids to stay focused and quiet. To pay attention to their bodies and the sensations from each stretch. 

Well, There You Have It!

Some simple ways to sneak mindfulness into your day, everyday!

Time is on your side with these simple classroom mindful moments!

Happy 2022/2023 School Year!

With love,

Miss T.

Education, Kids, Mindfulness, Mindset, self-development

Tim Ferriss or Eckhart Tolle? How About Neither! Why Picture Books Are The Best Form of Self-Education.

Self-Education – My favourite kind of education!

If you’re like me, you turn to a good book when you’re looking for answers.

We reach for the newest Self-Development, Spirituality, Finance or Business book on the shelf. Then, down it like a glass of ice-cold water on a hot day.

Books like:

  • The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
  • Daring Greatly by Dr. Brene Brown
  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • Or the classic: Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

I’ve read all of these books.

I learned something from each of them.

But let me tell you, none of these books were as impactful as the children’s picture books I’ve read…

Picture Books For Adults.

While picture books are written to entertain children, I am convinced that they are actually designed for adults.

The lessons to be learned in a good picture book are just as important for us to digest.

Why?

The thing is, adults get corrupted by life. We get lost along the way.

We have busy lives, stressful jobs, and needy families.

The magic of simplicity and childhood gets tossed aside.

Forgotten.

We only have time to focus on the “grown up” stuff.

We forget to nourish our inner-child.

Picture Books Pack a Punch.

All it takes is a 5 minute picture book to get whacked in the face with a heart-warming lesson. It hits us right in the feels

We learn about life. We learn about ourselves.

They make us think:

“Oh right… that IS important… I should value that more…I should make more time for that…”

They bring us back to our inner-child.

Our Brains Love Stories.

A human’s brain is wired to digest and break down stories.

We analyze them and search for the meaning behind them.

Kids’ brains do this. Adults’ brains do too.

Think about it…

The hieroglyphics in Ancient Egypt…

… Drawn-out stories!

The tales from Indigenous groups…

… More stories!

Classic moral-inducing fables…

…. All stories!

Stories Are Human Nature.

It’s how we make sense of the world.

So, the next time you’re reaching for the newest self-development or non-fiction book… I challenge you instead… to grab a picture book!

You never know what lessons you’ll find…

Or what lesson will find you!

With love,

Miss T.


Mindful Miss T’s Recommendation of the Day!

Maybe

By Kobi Yamada

A BEAUTIFUL picture book (That I am convinced is written for adults too!) about the endless potential in us all.

I received this book as a birthday gift last week and it reminded me of my purpose and reason for being here on this Earth. It reminded me that everyone has their own purpose. That everyone is here for a reason. Whatever that reason may be. And it is up to us to share our purpose with those around us. That WE are capable of anything.

Education, Kids

Student Celebrations: How I Spent My Time During The Last Week Of School

Last week was the LAST week of school for the year!

And…

Even though I’m no longer an Educational Assistant working in the classroom, I still made time to visit my students before we said goodbye for the summer.

In fact…

During the final 2 days of school….

I basically spent all day on both days with my students!

It was a busy week. With lots of events!

Events that I just could not miss.

Grade 9 Farewell

This year, I worked primarily with Grade 9 students. This was my first year ever working with this age group!

I couldn’t miss their graduation…

It made it even easier to attend the whole night because my boyfriend ended up DJ’ing their Farewell Dance! 😛

It was a special day – setting up for the event, visiting my students, and of course…

Encouraging them to get their booty’s on the dance floor for one final evening with Miss T!

It was so amazing to watch them let loose and not care about what others were thinking of their dance moves.

I had my worries…

For a grade of students who spent all of their Junior High Years navigating COVID… who never got to experience school dances… who spent the last couple years social distancing…

They were able to put the last 2 years behind them and celebrate their hearts out…

My heart was bursting..


In between the ceremony and dance, I gave my Grade 9’s a Farewell gift. Something to remember me by, and to help guide them over the summer and over their High School Years.

I gifted them with my Gratitude Journal for Teens.

I was waiting for this moment all year!

I created this journal with THEM in mind. They were my inspiration.

And it was so fulfilling to be able to present them with my journal and a personal note written to each one of them by me.

They changed my life. They helped me grow. I wanted them to know that before they took off to High School.

That they too, had made an impact on me…

The LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!

That meant more celebrations! We capped off the year with a Talent Show AND MORE dance parties!!

The day began back at my old school to watch the Talent show.

It was inspiring to see all of these kids muster up the courage to expose themselves on the stage in front of the whole school.

Kids are amazing. They surprise me each and ever year.

I got to watch kids of all ages from grades 4-9 display their talent for the whole school to see!

Tears were most definitely shed…

It was a beautiful ending to the crazy first year at this brand new school.

After the talent show, I headed over to our younger sister school for…

ANOTHER DANCE PARTY!!

That my boyfriend DJ’d once again! 😛

(In fact, he’s basically the Edmonton Public School Boards resident volunteer DJ :P)

When my Elementary School – Sherwood – closed down last year, the younger students (Kindergarten-Grade 3) went over to this school.

It was a beautiful reunion!

I spend the afternoon reconnecting with old students and dancing our little hearts out! Again… 😛

It reminded me how much a miss the younger grades…

I felt very grateful to be a part of their special event for the last day of school.

But… The Day Didn’t End There…

After the dance party at the K-3 school, I drove back across the street (good thing these schools are close!) and spent the last hour and a half wandering the halls of my 4-9 school giving out goodbye’s, see you later’s, and big bear hugs!

Some of my students would be returning, when others would not.

It hurts my heart a little not knowing when I’ll see them next (and if I’ll see them next).

But…

I’m grateful to have made an impact while I could.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be in some of their lives – even if only for a short while.

I know these kids will do amazing things one day!

If they continue to follow their hearts and live life with kindness in mind.

Happy Summer my friends!

With love,

Miss T.

Education, Kids, Mental health, Mindfulness, Stress / Anxiety

The Hard Truth you Need to Know about Teaching: How to Create More Time

“I just don’t have the time…”

“How am I supposed to squeeze anything else into my day…?”

Things I hear in Education..

And I get it, Teachers have a lot on their overflowing plates.

They are more than just Teachers – they feed kids when they’re hungry and console them when they’re hurt.

Days become overwhelmed with to-do’s and then suddenly… its JUNE! And we’re cutting it close on deadlines.

But if we invest a little extra time, into the RIGHT things, it is possible to get some teaching time back!

Let’s take a quick peek into our classrooms…

Teacher’s at the front, attempting to get through her math lesson.

Attempting… because we know her lesson is not going according to plan.

We have Johnny in the front, raising his hand every 2 minutes to interject with a concern. Bianca is noisily tapping on her desk, frustrated because she just doesn’t get math. Will snapped his pencil and is this close to flipping his desk if he has to painstakingly sit through another minute of this class…

Classrooms are overrun with interruptions.

Sometimes, as Educators, we feel so short on time, that we push through our lessons and don’t necessarily deal with the underlying issue…

The Disregulation…

The stress, the frustrations and the anger…

And the truth is… Kids aren’t learning if they are not REGULATED.

To understand that, we need to know how our brains work.

When information enters our brain, either from something external (like a lesson) or from our internal emotions (fear, anger), this information travels from the bottom up.

  1. The Brain Stem, into

  2. Our Limbic System (Emotional brain), and then

  3. The NeoCortex (Thinking brain)


But… when students are disregulated, then information cant travel past our brain stem, our primitive brain…

Think of it as electricity flowing in a circuit. If our regulation “switch” is turned off… no electricity is getting to the “light bulb” part of the brain.

The upper parts of their brains aren’t on.

They can’t use their emotional brain to relate to your lesson… And they most definitely can’t use their thinking brain!

So, what’s the point in stressfully pushing through a lesson if our students wont remember or relate to it…?

We Need Regulation!

And how do we do that?

By taking a little bit of time to mindfully teach regulation strategies!

When our kids become disregulated, but are PREPARED in handing it. We can redirect back to our lesson quicker.

The interruptions become minimal…

And we have a more effective lesson…

All because we invested a little bit of time turning our students brains on.


Here Are Some Easy-Peasy Strategies To Get You Started:

#1: Deep Belly Breathing (and more breathing exercises)

#2: Journalling or Creating Art

#3: Gong for a Walk (even better if it’s outdoors!)

Wishing you the best of luck!
(I just know you can do it!)

With love,

Miss T.

Education, Health / Wellness, Kids, Mental health, Mindfulness, Stress / Anxiety

Education Problems 101: How To Practice Mindfulness When You Just Don’t Have The Space

I get it…

Space is limited!

We don’t all have cozy corners, or carpet spaces in our classrooms… Some of us don’t even have classrooms!

This was my challenge too…

As an Educational Assistant, I didn’t have my own classroom. No place to practice Mindfulness with my students. No place to put my Mindfulness “tools”.

But, I Had A Dream…

I wanted to teach students Mindfulness techniques and get my message out to the school.

I felt it was too important of a dream to just forget about because I was lacking one crucial aspect…

So, how did I overcome this challenge?

How did I bring Mindfulness to my students WITHOUT the space to do so?

I Got Creative…

Accepting that there was a challenge was Step #1!

CHOOSING to find an alternative and face it head on was Step #2!

We don’t often get past Step #1 – Our subconscious holds onto the message that there isn’t always a way around a problem.

BUT…

There is ALWAYS another way! There is ALWAYS an alternative!

All you have to do is a little creative thinking…

For me, this meant introducing…

The Mindfulness Bin!

The Mindfulness Bin was a lightweight bin that held all my Mindfulness tools.

Because I couldn’t hold Mindfulness in one classroom, this bin needed to go ANYWHERE I needed to go.

Sometimes Mindfulness Club took place in the music room, or outdoors. Sometimes it was help in the gym, or in a spare classroom.

Students LOVED to be “Mindfulness Bin Leaders” – They took such pride in hauling our little bin around.

The Mindfulness Tools that you’d be likely to find in my Mindfulness Bin were:

  • Sit Spots
  • Breathing Activities Book
    (Breathe Like a Bear by Kira Willey)
  • Mandala Colouring Pages
  • Pencil Crayons
  • Breathing Stars
  • Talking Stick
  • Sand Timer
  • Activity Cards (Breath Work/Yoga Cards)
  • Self Check-In Cards & Erasable Markers

Maybe that sounds like a lot to you… But all these items were small and easy to carry.

I’d sometimes switch them out for a little variety.

I NEVER Felt Limited with The Mindfulness Bin!

Although it was small, it sure was mighty!

It had all the tools we needed to get the job done.

My students saw the bin as this magical component to Mindfulness Club…

Remember Mary Poppins?

And the never-ending magical tote bag she would pull unlimited items out of?

Yeah…?

Well, that’s how I felt every time I had The Mindfulness Bin with me!

“What will Miss T. pull out next?!”

No Space, No Problem!

Don’t get discouraged if you have a space-limiting challenge in front of you.

Get creative: Think outside-of-the-box!

There is always a way. Always a solution.

I hope my Mindfulness Bin story will inspire you to take creative action on your next big challenge.

I know you can do it…

With love,

Miss T.

Education, Kids, Mindset, Stress / Anxiety

Teenagers: Treacherous Tiny Humans… But, Are They Actually?

“I will NEVER work with teenagers. You wont ever find me working in a Junior High School…”

– Young Miss T.

Said a young, naive Miss T.

But, Why?

Do you remember the kind of terror – I mean, kid, you were as a teen?

I never wanted to deal with treacherous teens, like myself.

I told myself, there was just no way…

… Until This Year Happened…

My little Elementary school closed down, and in its place, a Grade 4-9 school was built.

On one hand, I didn’t want to leave my students who would transfer to this new school.

But on the other hand, I remembered the promise I made to myself in my early days of Education.

The promise I made to never work with teenagers.

Why would I want to put myself through that…?

I don’t know what I was thinking when I said YES to the position at this new school….

I don’t know what I was thinking when I said YES when they asked if I’d work with a Grade 9 classroom….

But I did anyways.

I Was Paralyzed With Fear Back In September.

Surrounded by “kids” taller than I was.

Surrounded by cliques of teens.

How was I supposed to look confident? Unafraid?

When deep down, I felt like I was thrown back in junior high trying to prove myself to all these “cool” teens. Trying to “fit in”. To be “accepted” as one of their own.

I remember asking other staff members for advice.

“They’re Just Big Kids” – They’d All Say.

It took me a while to realize this was true.

It took me a while to look past their height and intimidating demeanour.

What it took, was me coming back to the school after my leave of absence…

I mustered up the courage to seek out my Grade 9’s again – worrying, yet again, if they’d be angry with me for leaving.

I worried that the kids I was scared of all along, would really give me something to be afraid of…

“Look! It’s Miss T!” – Someone Shouted.

I took one step through the door, and immediately was pummelled by student hugs!

Hugs so tight that it took me back to my Elementary school days…

These hugs felt exactly like my Grade 1’s and 2’s hugs did.

Except, this time, when I looked down, there weren’t tiny humans hanging on tightly to my legs…

Instead, there were beautiful tiny souls disguised as teenagers.

I learned a beautiful lesson that day…

Do not be fooled: Teenagers really are just big kids after all…


Thank you to the teenagers who changed my life and my perception…

I am grateful for all you taught me!
(Yes, I’m looking at you – My Homeroom 9-1‘s)


With love,

Miss T.

Health / Wellness, Kids, Mental health, Technology

A Must-Read For Parents: 3 Jaw-Dropping Lessons on Brain Development From a 7 Year Old!

The most powerful TED talk I’ve watched, was given by a 7 year old…

Molly Wright makes her way across the TED stage and begins…

“What if I told you a game of peekaboo could change the world…?”

Molly Wright

Molly is not your typical 7 year old.

She is a prime example of what happens when a child’s brain development is nurtured through the early years.

Not only is she a prime example, she’s also an advocate for healthy childhood development.

I learned more from this 7 year old in 7 minutes, than I did reading over 100 books (written by adults) about children and their brains.

When kids are exposed to things like…

  • Connecting
  • Talking
  • Playing
  • A Healthy Home
  • A Sense of Community

… it contributes positively to their development.

Connecting with our family and community builds and strengthens relationships, encourages trust, promotes positive mental health, and teaches life skills.

I’m sure we can wait until kids are older to start teaching them these skills though, right?

WRONG!

So… When should we be connecting, playing and talking to our kids?

#1. First 5 Years!

Molly reminds us that these years of a child’s life are the most CRUCIAL years in their development.

Brains grow faster in the first 5 years than they do the rest of our lives. By the time kids are 7 years old, their brains have grown to 90% the size of an adults’ brain.

Do not underestimate those first 5 years…

So… What should we be doing those first 5 years?

#2. Serve and Return!

This is Molly’s scientific way of saying… CONNECT! TALK! PLAY!

Children’s mirror neurons are on alert! They learn through connecting and interacting with the adults they trust. Making eye contact and playing games with your child (yes, like peekaboo), are important for their development and for their learning!

So… How often should we be playing games like peekaboo?

#3. Early and Often!

Molly reinforces that we need to be playing these games and connecting with our child as often as we can, and as early as we can!!

Even a 1 year old is aware of the broken connection when our attention is diverted.

Diverted to technology… To our devices…

What would happen if we were distracted by our devices all the time?

When children are not receiving the positive interactions they need for healthy brain development, childhood becomes stressful – even traumatic.

It is harder for children to feel safe, to trust, and to regulate without connection…

Kids NEED positive relationships.

They need connection, to be spoken to, and played with.

They need a healthy and safe home.

To feel a part of a community.

And YOU have the opportunity to give them that.

So, thanks, Molly Wright (the smartest 7 year old I know), for reminding us that a game of peekaboo has the capacity to change the world…


Everyone!

Go do yourselves a favour and watch Molly speak right here!


Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

With love,

Miss T.


Education, Kids, Mindfulness

7 Life-Changing Lessons That We Can All Learn From Young Kids

Working in a school, it was my job to help teach kids.

But as I reflect on the last 7 years, I’ve come to realize they taught me too…

In fact, I might have learned more from them than they did from me!

We can ALL learn from kids… As long as we are open to the possibility.

We can look to our kids as teachers.


Here are 7 remarkable lessons that I learned from spending my days with kids:

#1: Be Fearless

Kids are courageous! They inspire me with their willingness to try new things. They don’t let failure keep them down. They get back up and try again. Those brave little beings…

#2: Look For the Good In People

Kids don’t judge others. They are always willing to put their trust in people. They are understanding. Kids give others the benefit of the doubt. I’ve seen more kids willing to help others – regardless of their circumstances.

#3: Its Always the Perfect Time For a Dance Party

Dance, play, BE SILLY! They understand the importance of playing and having fun. Oh, and their imaginations…! Imaginative play is wonderful for enhancing problem solving skills! I know a handful of adults who could harness their inner-child a little more… 😛

#4: Notice the Little Things in Life

Kids are super aware. They pay attention to all the minor details. They see things that adults don’t.“Look! A lady bug!!!” They will be enchanted with that lady bug for hours… They appreciate the simple things in life.

#5: It’s Okay To Cry

In fact, its okay to let any emotion out. Kids do this naturally. They aren’t afraid to cry or scream. They don’t bottle up their emotions. They are great teachers at letting it out and moving on.

#6: Trust Your Gut

Kids are wonderful at following their instincts. They listen to what their bodies are telling them. They don’t let misleading information distract them from making the right decision… They feel in their gut.

#7: Everyday Is a New Day

This is a big one… Kids don’t hold onto things that adults do. They forgive themselves and others with ease. They can move on. They understand that each new day is a fresh start and they don’t carry the past with them.


We could all learn a thing or two from the kiddos in our lives…

What sorts of things have kids taught you?

I sure am grateful for the lessons they taught me!

With gratitude,

Miss T.


compassion, Education, Kids, Kindness

Saying Goodbye To My Students: And What I Learned About Impacting Little Lives

January 7, 2022 was the last time I set foot in my school…

I’ve been on a leave for the last 3 months trying to gain some clarity about life and the kind of work I want to pursue.

I never planned to be an Educator forever.

What kept me there so long was the kids.

The lives that I touched. The lives that touched me…

Saying Goodbye Isn’t Easy.

I never really had a chance to say goodbye.

My leave was sudden and it happened just before the kids came back from Christmas break.

I spent the last 3 months worried and wondering:

“Do they think I abandoned them?”

I didn’t want to leave them with that impression.

I wanted them to understand how much I love and care for them.

Just, this departure was something I had to do… for me…

Is that selfish?

I don’t believe so. But I still struggled with this question in my mind.

I spent the last 7 years of my life putting my students well-being ahead of my own.

It was time for me to care for myself.

But, I needed to see them. To explain to them myself.

To be real with them.

So Yesterday, I Went Back.

I spent the afternoon volunteering at the school.

I got to see so many friendly faces!

I heard my name echo in the school hallways…

“Miss T!” You’re here!”

My heart filled with joy of all the beaming little faces.

Happy just to see me.

I spent the afternoon helping out and catching up.

I finally had my closure.

And I realized something while I was there.

I realized that just because I love these kids, it doesn’t mean I need to WORK at the school to be with them.

To help guide them. To make a difference in their lives.

I can still be that person – a role model for them – by being my authentic self.

Even if that authentic self is no longer an educator. No longer their Educator.

It’s Not The Title That Matters.

It whats in your heart and what you do with it that really matters.

And so, I decided to go back every second week to volunteer.

To give them the love they deserve.

I don’t want the job. But I want the kids.

I want to show them that they can always count on Miss T.

That I will always be there for them.

Educator, or not.

With love,

Miss T.


Education, Kids, Mental health, Mindset

Creatures of Comfort: Why It’s Important to Rethink our Decisions and Change Directions

Today, is my official last day of employment with the school board.

Technically… my last day of work was back in January. But this last school year has been frustrating. I took a leave to gain some mental clarity and figure life out.

Well, I’ve figured something out…

I Figured, It’s Time for a New Adventure.

But let me tell you, it was not an easy decision.

In fact, I’m still fighting an internal battle over it….

I am a creature of comfort.

I originally began my journey in education because I was forced to pick something.

I was 19 with no direction. No plans. No ideas.

I needed something for the time being.

Until I figured out my next move.

It took me 7 years too long to finally make a move…

Education is Not Something I am Particularly Passionate About…

Well.. not the kind of education our schools teach.

I love the kids.

I love helping them grow.

I love having the opportunity to mould and shape little brains.

But I don’t care for academics….

I don’t care for the way our school systems force education onto kids.

I don’t care for the way that they teach kids what to think instead of how to think.

Instead of sparking curiosity…

Despite all of this, it was hard to finally make the change.

To leave my kiddos and school community behind.

But today, on my last official day of employment, I found some reassurance in the final chapter of a book I was reading.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant.

“What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?”

Adam says, this question is the worst possible question we can ask our kids.

This question promotes a FIXED MINDSET.

It’s underlying message is that you’re a failure if you quit at something…

… Even if that something is something you hate…

I grew up in a world where adults asked this question continuously…

I can see the flaws in myself – the struggle to quit education – because this question was imposed on me as a child.

I see this question imposed on our students everyday in school…

I do not want to contribute to more fixed mindsets..

I want to break free from that cycle.

I want to be an example of a growth mindset.

It’s Time to Re-Think my Life.

My career.

Time to move on.

“The simplest way to rethink our options is to question what we do daily…”

Think Again – Adam Grant

In January, I began re-thinking my days.

I re-thought my life as an Educator…

I don’t want to have to put academics above mental health or personal growth.

I don’t want to waste anymore time in a broken system.

A system that I don’t care for. A system that doesn’t promote change.

I DO want to make a difference.

I tried my hardest to make a difference within the system.

But I could only do so much.

I realize now, I have an opportunity to make more of a difference, to help more kids, more families, more educators, by getting OUT of the system.

I Don’t Regret Anything.

I am grateful for all I learned. For my experiences.

But now, I’m ready for more.

Bring on the next adventure.

Remember: It takes strength to quit. To quit things that aren’t suited for us.

As long as you live & speak your truth, you can’t go wrong…

With love,

Miss T.