Looking back to March and ahead to April

As I begin to think about our next conversations during the week of April 8, I can’t help but revisit a few phrases and ideas that have stuck with me since our last gatherings. I have been reminded of other resources (some on topic, others not so much) that I thought I would share.

Thinking spaces: Where and when are our own literal and figurative thinking spaces these days? Are they catch-as-catch-can or more deliberate? How can we discuss the idea of thinking space with our students? Certainly our classrooms are intended to be thinking spaces, but do we (the royal we, of course) honor this idea every day? What are other ways we can help students create their own thinking spaces?

Thinking fast and slow: Possibly because I just noticed the unread book of the same title in my Audible library (Dan Kahneman, 2011), but the pace of my class sessions has also been on my mind. How am I deliberately altering the pace to allow for space/time to think, for quiet, for reflective writing? An interesting exercise that I will attempt with my students is to collaborate and graphically represent the pace of a semester. How does the rhythm vary and how do we (faculty and students) respond as a result? Particularly for those new to (or returning to) college, anticipating and opening space for the varied external forces can be an adjustment. Practicing this myself, how can I set aside contemplative time?

Down with multi-tasking: In our last meetings at GV, we discussed cell phones and other classroom distractions. Here are two links that came mind: a Huffington Post piece about a multitasking research study and a video of one professor’s approach to a cell phone policy.

Compassion: We also discussed the role of compassion in teaching. Do we all have compassion for all students? I was reminded of a recent “Magna 20 Minute Mentor” webinar from Maryellen Weimer, entitled “What are the Three Worst Mistakes to Make in the Classroom?” Mistake #2: Make decisions about who can and can’t learn. I am happy to loan the DVD to anyone interested in watching it.

Learning from Others: Speaking of webinars, thank you Todd (and Patti for the reminder) about the webinars offered through The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. The latest offering, The Blue Pearl: A Research Report on Teaching Mindfulness Practices to College Students, is now available as a recording on their website.

I am looking forward to continuing to learn with all of you. Todd and I hope that the next two discussion articles on research studies incorporating mindfulness practice in the classroom – selected based on your request for additional implementation examples – spark your imagination.

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