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Mindfulness digital resources abound

New York Teacher
Teaching mindfulness

The MindUp website can provide ways of bringing its social-emotional strategies to your classroom.

As anyone who has been in a classroom in recent years knows, this is a challenging moment. Between the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of social media, many students are dealing with anxiety, lack of focus, tumultuous emotions or depression.

Thankfully, there’s a proven strategy that can help: mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment, free from distraction or judgment, and being aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. This state can be achieved through meditation, deep breathing or yoga. It can be practiced anytime and anywhere by students as young as preschool age and can be done for as little as a few minutes at a time. Mindfulness can improve concentration, reduce stress, help emotional regulation and increase self-awareness.

These digital resources can help teachers bring mindfulness practices into the classroom:

The Calm app features guided meditation, calming sounds, ambient music and sleep stories. Calm has resources specifically designed for educators for both classroom use and their own self-care. UFT members can access premium content on the app for free through NYSUT. Check the UFT website’s member discounts section to learn how.

MindUp is a social-emotional learning program that in partnership with the UFT is introducing its strategies to New York City public schools. Whether or not MindUp is at your school, you can use its online resources, ranging from mindfulness courses to brain-break classroom activities. From the MindUp website, you can also access materials from Headspace, another excellent meditation and mindfulness app.

The Child Mind Institute has a repository of short, engaging videos that teach mental health skills like relaxation techniques, managing emotions and understanding feelings. Videos for elementary school students feature characters and stories, while middle and high school videos show teens speaking about the challenges they face as well as the solutions they’ve found that have helped them.

Mindful Schools has been a pioneer in bringing mindfulness to K-12 schools across the country. It has a wide range of free materials available online, such as how-to articles, a video library and research on the many benefits of mindfulness. It also offers a monthly online community practice space with virtual discussions and a guided program for educators.

For younger students, conducting a mindful walk during recess is an easy way to begin. Mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing, can be done at the beginning of class, during transitions or whenever students need a short break. You can also teach students about their brains and neurons and how they affect our everyday emotions.

These digital resources on mindfulness will help you integrate the practices that best for you and your students.

Sandy Scragg is an instructional technology specialist with over 15 years of experience in New York City public schools.