Back
The Classroom

Taking on Remote Teaching: Mindfulness

Alexa Beechler
May 7, 2020

How can teachers find peace and balance during a time of unrest? 

One answer: Mindfulness 

Anxious. Fearful. Worried. Overwhelmed. Sad. These emotional states were the top 5 that educators shared they were feeling at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, along with the Collaborative for Social-Emotional and Academic Learning, set forth to uncover how teachers were doing in the midst of such unprecedented times. While these responses could be expected during this time in history, an earlier 2017 survey by these joint centers had yielded similar results. 

Due to the transition to distance learning, the pressure put on teachers within the traditional classroom setting has now been multiplied. While learning is not stopping, neither is the busy life of a teacher. The balancing act of the century has now begun. 

Though I may not have all the answers, as a former elementary school teacher, I have found powerful ways to help me find peace in the midst of the most challenging times of my career. These tips are simple to implement but come with two ground rules: You deserve to be happy and you are worthy of time on your calendar. Now that we have gotten those rules established, let’s talk about three tangible ways to bring peace and joy to your life.

1. Be mindful of the world around you. Have you ever noticed that happiness is a pursuit, that you have to chase happiness to get it? But negativity, well, that is sometimes simply just a click away. Research shows us that our brain is wired to react to negative experiences more than to positive ones. This means that we need to be intentional about what we focus on. So, I decided to become focused on finding joy, positivity, and peace. I decided to take pictures of everything that made me feel those feelings. Then, I posted them everywhere.


Try it for yourself

  • Perhaps it is your pet that brings you joy; take a snap.

  • Perhaps it is your family that brings you positivity; snap a pic. 

  • Perhaps inspirational quotes bring you peace; take a screenshot. 

  • Whatever it is, make it visible to you and feed your mind with that hope. 

Try it with students

  • Make this into a photography project and invite your students to share what brings them joy, positivity, and peace. Then, have them share it with each other. Spread the hope around; it’s contagious. 

2. Be mindful of your inner thoughts. Gratitude. We all have heard that one before. Be grateful for those around you. It’s good for you, they say. And yes, that is right, but let’s break down why and how. When you focus on things that you are thankful for, your brain begins to release stress-reducing neurotransmitters: meet your friends dopamine and serotonin. So, it is important to practice gratitude daily and often to keep the stress at bay. Find the good and shout it out. I loved what educator Chuck Poole does with his students, so I had to shout it out

Try it for yourself

  • Is a colleague rocking it at work? Let them know!

  • Did someone publish amazing content on social media? Give it a like!

  • Are your students rocking? Shout them out! 

 Try it with students

  • Implement an afternoon shoutout time, and have your students use a backchannel like Today’s Meet or posting platform to shout out one person who deserves two thumbs up. Kindness is free to give, yet priceless to receive. Let’s cultivate more of it. 

3. Be mindful of what you see. Can you see color? If so, that is a gift because many people are unable to see color at all. Research shows the uplifting effects that color can have on our emotions, so be on the lookout for it.

 Try it for yourself

  • Take a few minutes each day to write down a few colors and hues that you noticed. At the end of the week, take time to reflect on that and write a haiku. We know that poetry also elicits stress-relieving effects on our bodies, so go on, get your write on. 

 Try it with students

  • Invite your students to go on a color hunt and take note of the colors they find and the feelings that come with those colors.

  • At the end of their hunt, invite them to write a haiku about the colors they discovered. Once students feel more confident, have them create a painting or picture that corresponds to their work. When we allow our minds to create, joy abounds. 

To the tired, stressed out and overwhelmed teachers: I see you. I hear you. I value you. You inspire me. I hope these tips can help bring you peace in the middle of your most challenging year yet as a teacher. 

The Latest from @Newsela

Visit our virtual ☕ Teachers Lounge to exchange teaching strategies with other educators and discuss the most pressing challenges you’re facing this fall. https://t.co/w8w5zWHZkj https://t.co/U1lPoQf7ct
September 29, 2020, 8:03 PM
In the ocean's depths, it might take more than a little light to illuminate some of the planet's darkest fish. A newfound mechanism called "ultrablack skin" can soak up almost all light that hits it, which makes these deep sea fish nearly invisible. https://t.co/bn2Elhrlq9 https://t.co/xe9OZfya4R
September 29, 2020, 3:29 PM
Should Supreme Court justices serve lifelong or limited terms? Some argue that life terms give too much power, others counter that they protect justices from political pressures. Students can consider their own perspective on the issue using this set: https://t.co/NsBk4PzoTF https://t.co/avuMlhUWt8
September 29, 2020, 1:45 AM
The very first woman to serve on the Supreme Court was appointed just 37 years ago, in 1981. Here is an overview of some of the remarkable women who have left their mark on our country's highest court, despite the many obstacles they faced. https://t.co/9pcPIJxVPb https://t.co/EgNHQHWbdP
September 28, 2020, 11:30 PM
Racist housing policies are creating some oppressively hot neighborhoods, with temperatures more than 10 degrees hotter than the cooler areas. This article explores how this stark difference resulted from 100 years of exclusionary city planning decisions. https://t.co/lhV9owbqfd https://t.co/LolIlC8N8i
September 28, 2020, 9:34 PM
The justices on the Supreme Court decide what the Constitution says is legal. They are kind of like the referees for the country.  Help students understand why it is important who gets to serve on the Supreme Court using this resource: https://t.co/xjqaJ6wF54 https://t.co/QdH0HGxwE3
September 28, 2020, 9:27 PM
Our Election 2020 Student Poll shows that race in America is the most important issue for students in the 2020 election. Find out how other issues, like COVID-19, stacked up: https://t.co/aUATJp1geh https://t.co/T5nQCCkC8A
September 28, 2020, 8:07 PM
Recently, a committee called to "remove, relocate or contextualize" the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument. What are historians saying about the decision? Are those who study our founders and their monuments similarly outraged? Let's explore: https://t.co/hjPU2NfJQK https://t.co/zcb5aB7zzo
September 28, 2020, 7:04 PM
Ready to teach the election? Our free Election 2020 content includes tips for addressing complex election-related topics and guiding meaningful classroom discussions. https://t.co/KaimJO4TRD https://t.co/L3WFRXsw0f
September 28, 2020, 5:06 PM
Shadia and Imran Nakueira opened their ice cream business, Sikia Cafe, with one thing in mind: They wanted to work alongside people with disabilities. Read the inspiring story of how it's breaking the stigma and highlighting the skills of deaf people: https://t.co/xljVXN8xYZ https://t.co/7T6QQTLUBA
September 28, 2020, 3:04 PM
With no sign that concerts will return any time soon, the music business faces an unsteady future due to the pandemic. Read this Q&A with Louis York, a songwriting duo based in Nashville, on how music can be a "lifesaving tool" during times of distress. https://t.co/acBY5A6cmy https://t.co/ANaElyoBF9
September 28, 2020, 2:17 PM
The best lessons—at home or at school—start with the best content. This school year, access to high-quality instructional content can make all the difference. https://t.co/i7enF9qALO https://t.co/ciyRoueCOA
September 28, 2020, 1:11 PM
A strange chemical discovered in the clouds of Venus is defying explanation for scientists. Could it be a sign of life? Here's what researchers are saying: https://t.co/Bxi0agsNRO https://t.co/ogqiAj0pKE
September 27, 2020, 11:42 PM
For some bottlenose dolphins, finding a meal may be all about who you know. Recent studies highlight the importance of social networks, suggesting that dolphins rely on learning from their peers more than anything else. https://t.co/I8xviMgHBq https://t.co/T9x1rzR3j8
September 27, 2020, 8:05 PM
Why does "Avatar: The Last Airbender" still have such a strong appeal among millions? After all, it was released more than 15 years ago. This article uncovers five likely reasons for the show's loyal fanbase 👉 https://t.co/YoYnjrrDxQ https://t.co/i29JzxDVFY
September 27, 2020, 7:05 PM
As the 2020 presidential election nears, knowing where a candidate stands on key policy issues is paramount. This collection helps students familiarize themselves with policy issues like the environment, pandemics, race, education, and more. https://t.co/kzskB5UhWO https://t.co/8lmsacOjI2
September 27, 2020, 5:09 PM
Newsela student polls are now open! Engage future voters at all grade levels with a mock election to gauge their opinion on the most-discussed election issues. https://t.co/kb5CeNbf8O https://t.co/sbQcdopHQC
September 27, 2020, 2:28 PM
Join us for a teacher event about solving tricky distance learning challenges. You'll hear from other teachers and education experts as they share solutions backed by cutting-edge research. RSVP: https://t.co/hAQXYMnNMQ https://t.co/GMfZzRPS1P
September 27, 2020, 1:20 PM
Finding a healthy balance of screen time can be challenging in this season of distance learning. Yet right now, screens are the only safe way for many young people to learn or socialize. How should kids and teens navigate this dilemma? Let's explore: https://t.co/pyIyT3E94R https://t.co/oP1I8wWkoj
September 26, 2020, 11:39 PM

The best lessons start with the best content.

Ready to bring great instructional content to your students?

Contact Sales