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Mindfulness

July 31, 2012 2 comments

A friend and colleague sent me a great article by Kirsten Olson called The Mindful School Leader.  She describes the pressures and stress of life as a school leader and emphasizes the benefits of becoming more present in each moment.  In particular, she suggests a few practical strategies for becoming more mindful:

“Try this practice:  Every day, every few hours, stop and take three deep breaths through the nose, feeling the belly rise and fall.  Notice how you feel.  This builds awareness of the body and breath, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, calming the body and mind, reducing stress.

Try this practice:  Next time you walk around the school building notice how you are walking.  Feel your shoes on the floor.  Feel your spine tall and strong, and your shoulders wide and relaxed. Allow yourself to become keenly aware of your surroundings.  This strengthens focus on the present, sharpening awareness and mental clarity.

Try this practice:  Next time you eat lunch, try just eating not reading, texting, or attending to anything else.  Notice the food.  Savor flavors. This enhances self-care and self-nurturance, and elements of self-compassion.

Try this practice:  Next conversation, practice listening.  Set aside the desire to fix, solve, correct or judge the other person.  Listen not just with your ears (to hear), but with your eyes (to see), your mind (to think), heart (to feel), and your attention (to focus).  What do you notice about yourself?  How does it feel to listen deeply?  Listening practice builds empathy and compassion, essential tools of emotionally intelligent school leaders, and promotes connectedness with others, a fundamental element of community.”

The summer months are great times to reflect on just how harried I had become in this past year – my first as a building principal.  Now is the time to begin to cultivate some practices that will help slow me down, keep me present, and stay more focused on our vision.

I would love to hear how others find calm in the midst of all that comes one’s way as a leader in education.

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My first entry

It’s been years since I last attempted to keep a blog.  However, a number of forces have converged to influence me to reexamine and reengage in the process.  First, I am entering my second year as a high school principal and am desperately searching for ways to become more efficient, more reflective, and more purposeful.  I found it ridiculously easy to be swept up in the tornado of the crisis of the day and want to move past that kind of reactive mentality.  Second, there is a new technology integrator at my school who has ever so gently pushed me to increase my digital presence and develop my personal learning network.  Third, it is now summer time, and I am enjoying the moments of leisure to pause and reflect and develop the structures that I hope will facilitate continued reflection as I go into this next school year.  Finally, I am asking my students to create e-portfolios to capture their learning and reflection ove rtheir four years of high school.  It seems only right that I would model the same.  Et voilà, my blog.  Look for more posts and updatesto the site as the summer goes on.  In the meantime, happy 4th of July!

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