How long is your students’ attention span? For that matter, how long is your own?
According to one estimate, the average attention span in the year 2000 was 12 seconds; by 2012, it had dropped to eight seconds. By comparison, a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone in your class could manage to be mentally present for the entire class? What kinds of learning could take place if they were?
The answer is encouraging mindfulness. According to Kristin L. Roush, PhD, a psychology faculty member at Central New Mexico Community College, mindfulness “can improve mental focus and academic performance.”
In Everybody Present: Mindfulness in the Classroom, Roush explains, “Mindfulness mysteriously seems to cultivate emotional balance, kindness, and compassion. These qualities enhance the learning process.”
Practicing mindfulness and staying in the present will lessen anxiety, increase concentration, and improve creativity, among other benefits. But staying in the present can be a difficult task.
In her online seminar, Roush offers some techniques for encouraging mindfulness in the classroom. Some ideas include:
- Never tell your class they are getting out early, or they will spend the class period halfway out the door.
- Use pregnant pauses while speaking to focus student attention.
- Ask students to set an intention for the class and write it in their notes. For example, they might write, “If I were going to be distracted by anything during class, it might be [what?]. I choose to set this aside during class today.”
- As a reminder to stay present, ask students to look down at where they are standing. Remind them that they are usually currently located somewhere in the vicinity of their own feet rather than being wherever their minds take them.
Throughout her online seminar, Roush gives practical and actionable ideas for incorporating mindfulness practices into the classroom. She also leads the online attendees in mindfulness exercises, making this seminar a highly experiential one.
Being present in class requires more than just a physical body; Everybody Present: Mindfulness in the Classroom will help you assist your students in being present rather than simply attending class.